Frederick Sanger

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Frederick Sanger, OM, CH, CBE, FRS (born 13 August 1918) is an English biochemist and twice a Nobel laureate in chemistry. In 1958 he was awarded a Nobel prize in chemistry "for his work on the structure of proteins, especially that of insulin". In 1980, Walter Gilbert and Sanger shared half of the chemistry prize "for their contributions concerning the determination of base sequences in nucleic acids". The other half was awarded to Paul Berg "for his fundamental studies of the biochemistry of nucleic acids, with particular regard to recombinant-DNA".

He is the fourth (and only living) person to have been awarded two Nobel Prizes, either wholly or in part.


Early years

Frederick Sanger was born on 13 August 1918 in Rendcomb, a small village in Gloucestershire, the second son of Frederick Sanger, a general practitioner, and his wife, Cicely Sanger née Crewdson.[1] He was one of three children. His brother, Theodore was only a year older while his sister May (Mary) was five years younger.[2] His father, Frederick Sanger senior, had worked as an Anglican medical missionary in China but returned to England because of ill health. He was 40 in 1916 when he married Cicely who was 4 years younger. Sanger’s father converted to Quakerism soon after his two sons were born and brought up the children as Quakers. Sanger’s mother was the daughter of a wealthy cotton manufacturer and had a Quaker background but Cicely herself was not a Quaker.[2]

When Sanger was around five years old the family moved to the small village of Tanworth-in-Arden in Warwickshire. The family were reasonably wealthy and employed a governess to teach the children. In 1927, at the age of nine, he was sent to the Downs School a residential preparatory school run by Quakers near Malvern. His brother Theo was a year ahead of him at the same school. In 1932, at the age of 14, he was sent to the recently established Bryanston School in Dorset. This used the Dalton system and had a more liberal regime which Sanger much preferred. At the school he liked his teachers and particularly enjoyed scientific subjects.[2]

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