Dorothy Mary Hodgkin was born on the 12th of May 1910 in Egypt. Her father was an archaeologist and a student of the classics. The first 4 years of her life she spent in Egypt.
Her parents were based in Egypt even though she attended grammar school in England.
Even though her teenage years were spent more away from her parents than with them, they taught her and influenced her in many ways that showed later on in her life.
She had a fondness for chemistry, which her mother encouraged from her childhood, and she pursued chemistry at university too.
When she was studying at the University of Cambridge she learned about how x-ray crystallography was used to study the makeup of proteins.
In 1948, she and her colleagues made an important breakthrough when they made the first X-ray photograph using crystallography, of vitamin B12 and also its atomic arrangement.
Vitamin B12 is considered a very complicated non-protein compound and therefore very difficult to study. Her discovery was thus considered very important.
Besides studying vitamin B12, Hodgkin studied the molecular structures of steroids, penicillin and the chemical cholesteryl iodide.
Her work in crystallography was conducted around the same time that Francis Crick and James Watson were making breakthroughs in the study of human DNA.
In 1953, Hodgkin became one of the first people to see this structure of DNA, along with a few other important research scientists.
She was fascinated by the chemical structure of insulin even before the technology of crystallography had developed.
She did not give this up, and about 35 years after she first saw insulin she finally understood the complicated structure of this hormone.
Her work was important because it influenced the understanding and treatment of diabetes, a condition where a person’s blood sugar is high.
She won the Nobel Prixe for Chemistry in 1964 and many other great prizes for all her work and contributions to science.
Her face was one of 5 women to appear on a British postal stamp in 1996 and was also concerned about social problems that affected many people.
From around 24 years, she was diagnosed with a crippling bone condition called rheumatoid arthritis which deformed her joints and was extremely painful.
Both her hands and feet were affected by this and she even ended up in a wheelchair. However, this did not stop her from continuing her research and teaching.
She passed away on the 29th of July from a heart attack in her home in England.