Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin. X-ray analysis of biomolecules

Dorothy Crowfoot was born to an English family of archeologists and spent her childhood in Egypt, participating in the excavations of the ancient town of Jarash. But eventually she chose to be a chemist, and devoted her life to X-ray analysis – determining the three-dimensional biomolecular structures with X-rays. In many cases the forms of biomolecules go hand in hand with their functions. In 1948-1956 Crowfoot’s X-ray analysis of vitamin B12 led to discovering its role in the body. Crowfoot also determined the spatial structure of insulin, a complex molecule of 800 atoms, and gave numerous lectures on the importance of insulin for diabetic patients.  In 1964 Dorothy Crowfoot was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. She was married to Thomas Lionel Hodgkin, a member of the Communist party, and all her life she campaigned against social inequalities.  From 1978 to 1988 Dorothy Crowfoot was in charge of the Pugwash anti-war movement of scholars.