Famous 20th Century Molecular Biologists

This ranking is based on an algorithm that combines various factors, including the votes of our users and search trends on the internet.

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 1 Francis Crick

Francis Crick.
Famous As: Co-discoverer of the Structure of the DNA Molecule, Nobel Prize Winner
Birthdate: June 8, 1916
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Weston Favell, Northamptonshire, England
Died: July 28, 2004

Nobel Prize-winning British biophysicist Francis Crick is best known for his ground-breaking work to determine the structure of the DNA, along with James Watson, Maurice Wilkins, and Rosalind Franklin. He taught at various institutes, such as the Salk Institute, and was also awarded the Order of Merit.

 2 Matthieu Ricard

Matthieu Ricard.
Famous As: Molecular biologist, Photographer, Bhikkhu, Writer, Translator
Birthdate: February 15, 1946
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Aix-les-Bains
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 3 Arthur Kornberg

Arthur Kornberg.
Famous As: Biochemist
Birthdate: March 3, 1918
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: New York City, United States
Died: October 26, 2007

Nobel Prize-winning biochemist and doctor Arthur Kornberg is best remembered for his research on DNA synthesis. Born to Jewish immigrants in New York, Kornberg assisted his father at his hardware shop as a child. He had also been a ship doctor for the U.S. Coast Guard.

 4 Carol W. Greider

Carol W. Greider.
Famous As: Biologist, Molecular biologist, Geneticist, Physician
Birthdate: April 15, 1961
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Davis

Carol W. Greider is a molecular biologist who discovered the enzyme telomerase in 1984. Her discovery was honored several years later when she received the 2009 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine, along with Blackburn and Jack W. Szostak for their work on telomeres.  The trio also shared the Albert Lasker Award for Basic Medical Research for the same work.  

 5 Jack W. Szostak

Jack W. Szostak.
Famous As: Biologist, Molecular biologist, Geneticist, Physician, Professor
Birthdate: November 9, 1952
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: London

Nobel Prize-winning Canadian-American biochemist and geneticist Jack W. Szostak revolutionized medical science with his research on the manipulation of genes. The Cornell alumnus is credited with creating the first yeast artificial chromosome. He has also taught at the Harvard Medical School. In spite of being Polish, he doesn’t speak the language.

 6 Walter Gilbert

Walter Gilbert.
Famous As: Biochemist, Physicist, Molecular Biologist
Birthdate: March 21, 1932
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Boston, Massachusetts, United States

American molecular biologist and Nobel laureate Walter Gilbert pioneered research on the sequence of nucleotide links in DNA and RNA molecules. The Harvard and Cambridge alumnus later taught at Harvard. He also co-established firms dealing with genetic engineering and pharmaceutical research and was part of the Human Genome Project.

 7 Susumu Tonegawa

Susumu Tonegawa.
Famous As: Immunologist, Molecular Biologist
Birthdate: September 6, 1939
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture, Japan

Susumu Tonegawa is a Japanese scientist known for his discovery of the genetic mechanism that produces antibody diversity. For this work, he received the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1987. Even though he won the coveted award for his work in immunology, he is a molecular biologist by training. He now studies neuroscience. 

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 8 Max Perutz

Max Perutz.
Famous As: Molecular Biologist
Birthdate: May 19, 1914
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Vienna, Austria-Hungary
Died: February 6, 2002

 9 Peter Agre

Peter Agre
Famous As: Chemist, Molecular biologist, Professor
Birthdate: January 30, 1949
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Northfield

 10 Shirley M. Tilghman

Shirley M. Tilghman
Famous As: Molecular biologist, University teacher, Biochemist
Birthdate: September 17, 1946
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Toronto

Shirley Marie Tilghman, the nineteenth President of Princeton University, currently the Emeritus Professor of Molecular Biology and Public Affairs, is considered to be one of the most influential female scientists of our time. Although she is no longer involved in active research she is known for her contributions in the fields of molecular genetics, especially in genomic imprinting.

 11 Philip Allen Sharp

Philip Allen Sharp.
Famous As: Geneticist, Molecular Biologist
Birthdate: June 6, 1944
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Falmouth, Kentucky

Philip Allen Sharp is an American molecular biologist and geneticist best known for co-discovering RNA splicing. In 1993, he received the prestigious Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine along with Sir Richard John Roberts. Philip Allen Sharp has also won several other awards, such as the National Medal of Science, the Benjamin Franklin Medal, and the Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize. 

 12 Richard J. Roberts

Richard J. Roberts.
Famous As: Biochemist, Molecular Biologist
Birthdate: September 6, 1943
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Derby, England,

 13 Sidney Altman

Sidney Altman.
Famous As: Molecular Biologist
Birthdate: May 7, 1939
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Known for his independent work on ribonucleic acid (RNA), molecular biologist Sidney Altman co-won the 1989 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for discovering that RNA, which was thought to be a passive carrier of genetic codes, is also capable of taking up active enzymatic functions. The discovery is significant in that it forced scientists to reexamine traditional theories on cellular functions.