The first time I saw Dorothy Hodgkin’s name was in a chemistry textbook, talking about her work on the structure of insulin. It was one of the first things that interested me in structural biology. The more I learnt about structural biology the more I found out that her work was integral to the field. What I do for a living would not exist in the present format if it wasn’t for Dorothy Hodgkin. The structural biology of proteins is used to understand how they work, to design targeted drugs, and to try to make the ones we do have work better.
Hodgkin worked on the first protein structure to be determined by X-ray crystallography, that of pepsin, and used the knowledge gained to study more complicated structures, including the first structure of a steroid (cholesteryl iodide), penicillin and vitamin B12. She won the 1964 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for the B12 structure and for her work developing the technique of X-ray crystallography, and then five years later, helped to solve the structure of insulin, a project she had been working on for 35 years.
Her work was what first interested me in the field I now work in, she created and pushed forward the boundaries of the field and showed the power of perseverance in science.