June M. Lindsey
June 7, 1922 (age 96)
|Residence||Ottawa, Ontario, Canada|
|Alma mater||University of Cambridge|
|Institutions||University of Oxford |
National Research Council
June M. Lindsey (née Broomhead) (born June 7, 1922) is a British-Canadian physicist. Whilst working on X-ray crystallography at the University of Cambridge, Lindsey was influential in the elucidation of the structure DNA. She solved the structures of the purines, adenine and guanine. Her depiction of intramolecular hydrogen bonds in adenine crystals was central to Watson and Crick's elucidation of the double helical structure of DNA.
Education and early career
Lindsey joined the University of Cambridge in 1941. She completed her degree in 1944, but World War II forced her to leave her research career. She was encouraged to become a teacher, and spent two years teaching science in a school. She returned to Cambridge in 1946. She completed undergraduate courses at Newnham College, but Cambridge did not give women undergraduate degrees until 1948. She was awarded her doctorate in 1948. She solved the crystal structure of a complex of adenine and guanine. She delineated the shape and dimensions of the two nitrogenous subunits of DNA. She proposed that complementary nucleobases are bound together by hydrogen bonds, work that was expanded by Bill Cochran. Her research, particularly the prediction of hydrogen bonds, was used by Watson and Crick to determine the structure of DNA. They created cardboard models based on the dimensions from Lindsey's crystal structures. Francis Crick worked opposite Lindsey at the University of Cambridge. They did not recognise the contributions of Lindsey in their discovery of the molecular structure of nucleic acids.
After graduating, Lindsey moved to the University of Oxford, where she worked as a postdoctoral scholar with Dorothy Hodgkin on Vitamin B12. Lindsey moved to Canada in 1951. Before she left, Lawrence Bragg wrote to her requesting that she join him working on experimental and theoretical crystallography. In a letter, he wrote: “We badly need your hands to tackle knotty crystallographic problems, both experimental and theoretical. I wish all these things had come up while you were still with us; they would have been just in your line.” She worked at the National Research Council on the structure of codeine and morphine. Her husband, George Lindsey, was stationed in Montreal.
Lindsey left her career in crystallography to look after her two children, Jane and Robin. They moved to Italy on a NATO mission in 1961. Today, Robin is a Professor of Business Management at the University of British Columbia and Jane is a biostatistician at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Lindsey collected her bachelor's degree in 1998, 50 years after completing it.
Alex MacKenzie, a pediatrician at the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario in Ottawa, who knew Lindsey as friend of his mother in law inquired of her work at his mother in law's 90th birthday party. She told him about her 1940s work on crystallography, which inspired him to research her scientific contributions. MacKenzie was amazed by what he found and did not want her work to go unnoticed; it is "something we should shout from the mountaintops".
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- MacKenzie, Alex (2019). "The determination of purine crystal structures: an overlooked prequel to the discovery of the double helix". Genome. 62 (1): 43–44. doi:10.1139/gen-2018-0165. ISSN 0831-2796. PMID 30485127.
- Kass-Simon, Gabriele; Farnes, Patricia; Nash, Deborah (1993). Women of Science: Righting the Record. Indiana University Press. ISBN 9780253208132.
- White, John G.; Robertson, John H.; Pickworth, Jenny; Lindsey, June; Hodgkin, Dorothy Crowfoot; Brink, Clara (1954). "Structure of Vitamin B 12 : X-ray Crystallographic Evidence on the Structure of Vitamin B 12". Nature. 174 (4443): 1169–71. doi:10.1038/1741169a0. ISSN 1476-4687. PMID 13223773.
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