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Tribute to Professor Raymond Gosling

Posted on 20/05/2015

Professor Raymond Gosling

Professor Raymond Gosling, who worked closely on the discovery of DNA, has died 

We have been informed that King’s Alumnus, Professor Raymond Gosling, who worked closely on the discovery of DNA at King's in the 1950s, has died.

Professor Gosling worked alongside Maurice Wilkins, Rosalind Franklin, Alec Stokes, Herbert Wilson and other colleagues at the Randall Division within the Department of Physics at King's where they made crucial contributions to the discovery of DNA's structure in 1953.

Born in North West London in 1926, Professor Gosling was a British physicist who is best known for producing ‘Photo 51’, the first clear picture of the crystalline pattern of DNA. His pioneering work on x-ray diffraction research led to the building of the first correct model of the DNA molecule. 

He started his work on DNA as a research student at King’s in the summer of 1950, after completing his Physics degree at University College London and a two-year stint as a hospital physicist at the King's Fund and Middlesex Hospital.

Collaborating with Maurice Wilkins, Professor Gosling obtained the first clear image of DNA with an X-ray diffraction camera, before taking ‘Photo 51’ at King’s in 1952 with Rosalind Franklin. Arguably one of the world’s most important photographs, the image demonstrated the helical structure of DNA and, with their own deductions, enabled James Watson and Francis Crick of the University of Cambridge to build the first double-helix model of the DNA molecule which is now recognised as a global icon of science.   

Ray Gosling, as he was then known, left King’s soon after he completed his thesis in 1954 to become a Physics lecturer at Queen’s College, which was formerly part of the University of St Andrews, and at the University of the West Indies. He later returned to the UK in 1967 to take up the position of Lecturer and Reader at Guy's Hospital Medical School, and then Professor and Emeritus Professor in Physics Applied to Medicine from 1984. 

Professor Raymond Gosling is survived by his wife Mary and four sons. Our thoughts are with his family at this time.

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