Frederick Sanger R.I.P.–Just the Facts



“Sequences, sequences, sequences” and just the fundamental facts

Frederick Sanger won two Nobel Prizes in Chemistry for figuring out how to link together (or sequence) first proteins and then DNA.

I am no chemist but that kind of dedication to the truth given an infinite set of wrong answers is inspiring.

Sanger spent most of his days in the lab running his own experiments rather than out hustling up glory.

His most cited paper was in 1977 in PNAS and has 65000+ citations, which is about 2-3 orders of magnitude beyond most really good papers.

Sanger Citations

sorry–this blurry, but you will get the gist:  on the vertical axis is citations per year (ranging from 0-6000) and the horizontal is years (green lines start at 1945-2013).

most scholars will be lucky to get to 1000 citations in their career.   Just the facts.

In his own words, “[o]f the three main activities involved in scientific research, thinking, talking, and doing, I much prefer the last and am probably best at it.   I am all right at the thinking, but not much good at the talking.”

Fred Sanger, ‘Sequences, sequences, and sequences’, in ‘Annual Review of Biochemistry’, 1988


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