Frederick Sanger: Two-Time Nobel Laureate in Chemistry


Frederick Sanger: Two-Time Nobel Laureate in Chemistry





Frederick Sanger, British biochemist, won two Nobel Prizes in Chemistry. The first, in 1958, was for being the first person to sequence a protein molecule, namely insulin. That finding led to the idea that there must be a genetic code. He conducted his protein research at the Biochemistry Department of the University of Cambridge. The second Nobel Prize, in 1980, was shared with Paul Berg and Walter Gilbert. Gilbert and Sanger’s half of the prize was for developing DNA sequencing techniques. Sanger conducted his nucleic acid research at the Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge. Sanger’s technique became the basis for the human genome project, whereby the entire DNA sequence of a human was deduced. DNA sequencing has transformed both biology and medicine. This biography covers the early life, the protein period, the RNA period, and the DNA period of Fred Sanger. It also offers a glimpse of family life and a portrait of the man and his legacy. Fred Sanger was the fourth person to win two Nobel Prizes.



Publication Date


Document Type



Springer International Publishing


Cham, Switzerland

Publication Title

Part of the SpringerBriefs in Molecular Science

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Copyright 2017 Springer.



protein sequence, RNA sequence, DNA sequence, dideoxy sequence, Fred Sanger, Laboratory of Molecular Biology, biography, British biochemists, double Nobel Laureates, history of proteins, history of DNA


Biochemistry, Biophysics, and Structural Biology | History of Science, Technology, and Medicine | Molecular Biology


Publisher's comment: In this Brief, Joe Jeffers uncovers the life and works of two-time Nobel Laureate Frederick Sanger. Following Sanger’s early life to retirement, Jeffers describes how this celebrated British biochemist became the first person to determine the amino acid sequence of a protein for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1958. Highlighting Sanger’s remarkable career, Jeffers describes Sanger’s later change in research direction to investigate deoxyribonucleic acids (DNA), work for which Sanger also received the Nobel Prize jointly with Paul Berg and Walter Gilbert in 1980. Joe Jeffers conducted twelve interviews with Sanger over the period of 1999-2009 and he has also spoken to more than 40 of Sanger’s colleagues and family members. This brief provides a rigorous yet concise view of Sanger on a personal and scientific level and is suitable for biochemists, historians or the interested layperson.

Frederick Sanger: Two-Time Nobel Laureate in Chemistry