Winner Of 2 Nobel Prizes, Fred Sanger Dies At 95

Nov 21, 2013
Originally published on November 21, 2013 6:55 am
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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

And let's take a moment now to remember a man who did much to advance health care and medicine. Fred Sanger is the only person to win two Nobel Prizes in Chemistry. The second one came in 1980 for his work in sequencing the human genome. He died this week in Cambridge, England at age 95.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

At the 1958 Nobel Banquet for Sanger's first Nobel Prize for sequencing proteins, he said he hoped the award would be an encouragement to scientists. Sanger noted that, so often for researchers, days, weeks, months can pass in the lab when it appears that nothing has been achieved.

INSKEEP: But Fred Sanger later said he thrived on the satisfaction of solitary research. He'd been brought up a Quaker, he said, which led him to search for fundamental truth.

FRED SANGER: And I think this is very important for a scientist, because a scientist is really studying truth. And you've got to very certain about what you say is truthful. I have a sort of fixation about it rather. Even when somebody asks me, you know, they say to me: How are you, Fred. And I say oh, I'm terrible.

(LAUGHTER)

SANGER: You know, I should have said I'm fine, thanks. That's the standard thing. But if I'm not, I find it a little difficult to say that.

MONTAGNE: And with that in mind, we can assume Fred Sanger was telling the truth, precisely, when he gave his reasons for retiring. He left research in the 1980s and spent the final 30 years of his life gardening and, quote, "messing about in boats."

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