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Frederick Sanger OM (born August 13, 1918) is an English biochemist and currently the only person who has been awarded two Nobel prizes in Chemistry.
Sanger was educated at Bryanston School and then did his Bachelor of Arts in Natural Sciences at St John's College, Cambridge. He originally intended to study medicine, but became interested in biochemistry as some of the leading biochemists in the world were at Cambridge at the time. He obtained his PhD in 1943.
Sanger determined the complete amino acid sequence of insulin. In doing so, he proved that proteins have specific structures. He began by degrading insulin into short fragments by mixing the trypsin enzyme (which splits protein) with an insulin solution. He then applied a spot of the mixture to a sheet of filter paper. He passed a solvent through the filter paper in one direction, and passed an electric current through the paper in the opposite direction. Depending on their solubility and electric charge, the different fragments of insulin moved to different positions on the paper, creating a distinct pattern. Sanger called these patterns “fingerprints”. Like human fingerprints, these patterns were characteristic for each protein, simple and reproducible. He reassembled the short fragments into longer sequences to deduce the complete structure of insulin. Sanger concluded that the protein insulin had a precise amino acid sequence. It was this achievement that earned him his first Nobel prize in Chemistry in 1958.
In 1975, he developed the chain termination method of DNA sequencing, also known as the Dideoxy termination method or the Sanger method. Two years later he used his technique to successfully sequence the genome of the Phage Φ-X174 ; the first fully sequenced genome. He did this by hand, without any automation. This has been of key importance in such projects as the Human Genome Project and earned him his second Nobel Prize in 1980.
In 1992, the Sanger Centre in Cambridge, named after Frederick Sanger, was founded by the Wellcome Trust and the British Medical Research Council, the purpose of which is stated on their website as "to provide a major focus in the UK for mapping and sequencing the human genome, and genomes of other organisms."