If you don’t know about Fred Sanger, it’s not surprising. He was a quiet man, far more interested in his work than in recognition. In today’s world of media hypertrophy, that work generally gets a one-column, three-inch obituary, or about fifteen seconds of airtime.
Here’s a question. How many people have won more than one scientific Nobel Prize?
Three: Marie Curie (Physics, Chemistry), John Bardeen (Physics), and Fredrick Sanger (Chemistry)
I mention this because it is so rare and it indicates a contribution to science that is arguably more important to humanity than the contributions of all but a few political, military, cultural and sports figures. In the case of Fred Sanger, his work earned him the sobriquets (plural) among his peers as “The father of genomics,” and “The father of proteomics.” In other words, he did foundation work in the areas of genetics and proteins – the foundations of life. He was a great biochemist.
You could say that Sanger’s work (and life) was about getting things in order. His genius (and it was genius) was to look at something so complicated that it seemed either impenetrable or chaotic and find order – not only find it, but through painstaking laboratory techniques, many he developed himself, prove the existence of the order he saw (or suspected). More