Behind the Double Helix: The Complicated Life of Rosalind Franklin


  • Roberto Arrigoni CNR Institute of Biomembranes, Bioenergetics and Molecular Biotechnologies, Bari, Italy
  • Rosa Porro Department of Informatics, University of Bari “Aldo Moro”, Bari, Italy
  • Mario Dioguardi Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, Università Degli Studi di Foggia, Foggia, Italy
  • Filiberto Mastrangelo Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, Università Degli Studi di Foggia, Foggia, Italy
  • Angela Pia Cazzolla Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, Università Degli Studi di Foggia, Foggia, Italy
  • Francesca Castellaneta Independent Researcher “Sorriso & Benessere, Ricerca e Clinica”, Bari, Italy
  • Ioannis Alexandros Charitos School of Medicine, University of Bari “Aldo Moro”, Bari, Italy
  • Stefania Cantore Department of Emergency and Urgency, National Poisoning Centre, Riuniti University Hospital of Foggia, Foggia, Italy
  • Michele Covelli Interuniversity Research Center “Population, Environment and Heath”-CIRPAS, University of Bari “Aldo Moro”, Bari, Italy



Rosalind Franklin, Women in science, DNA structure, Biological molecules cristallography, precision medicine


BACKGROUND: Rosalind Franklin was a British scientist in the 1950s, that in her short career covered a lot of important scientific topics, ranging from coal structure porosity, to biological molecules cristallography, and finally to viruses structure definition.

AIM: This article aimed to underline the important role that she had for the elucidation of the DNA structure, and to reiterate the difficulties, she had to face – prominently as a woman – to be fully accepted in the world of scientific research.

METHODS: An historical research was conducted and summarized, regarding the life of Rosalind Franklin.

RESULTS: This myth overshadowed her intellectual strength and independence both as a scientist and as an individual.

CONCLUSION: As one of the twentieth century’s pre-eminent scientists, Franklin’s work has benefited all of humanity. The 100th anniversary of her birth in 2020 was prompting much reflection on her career and research contributions, not least Franklin’s catalytic role in unraveling the structure of DNA Franklin’s premature death, combined with misogynist treatment by the male scientific establishment, cast her as a feminist icon.


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How to Cite

Arrigoni R, Porro R, Dioguardi M, Mastrangelo F, Cazzolla AP, Castellaneta F, Charitos IA, Cantore S, Covelli M. Behind the Double Helix: The Complicated Life of Rosalind Franklin. Open Access Maced J Med Sci [Internet]. 2022 Aug. 29 [cited 2023 Oct. 3];10(F):758-62. Available from:



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