ASBMB Nobel Prize Winners

1958, 1980 – Frederick Sanger



Frederick Sanger (1918-present) was awarded the 1958 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for determining the structure of insulin. He determined the complete amino acid sequence of the molecule in 1955, proving that proteins have specific structures.  He began by degrading the insulin with trypsin, and then applied the fragments to filter paper.  He then passed a solvent through the filter paper in one direction and an electric current through the paper in the opposite direction.  This caused the different fragments of insulin to move to different positions on the paper, creating a distinct pattern.  Then he reassembled the short fragments into longer sequences to deduce the complete structure of insulin.  In 1975, Sanger developed a DNA sequencing method called the “Dideoxy Termination Method” or the “Sanger Method.” Two years later, he used this technique to successfully sequence the genome of bacteriophage Φ-X174, a virus that infects Escherichia coli (gut) bacteria.  This was the first organism to have its genome sequenced, which earned Sanger a second Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1980.