Insulin was one of her most extraordinary research projects. It began in 1934 when she was offered a small sample of crystalline insulin by Robert Robinson. The hormone captured her imagination because of the intricate and wide-ranging effect it has in the body. However, at this stage X-ray crystallography had not been developed far enough to cope with the complexity of the insulin molecule. She and others spent many years improving the technique. Larger and more complex molecules were being tackled until in 1969 – 35 years later – the structure of insulin was finally resolved.
In 1935 Dorothy Hodgkin put a crystal of insulin in fron of an X-ray beam and obtained a X-ray diffarction pattern that held out the prospect of solving insulin’s structure. She and others spent many years improving the technique. Larger and more complex molecules were being tackled until in 1969 – 35 years later – the structure of insulin was finally resolved.
Structure of Rhombohedral 2 Zinc Insulin Crystals. M. J. ADAMS , T. L. BLUNDELL, E. J. DODSON, G. G. DODSON, M. VIJAYAN, E. N. BAKER, M. M. HARDING , D. C. HODGKIN, B. RIMMER & S. SHEAT. Nature 224, 491 – 495 (01 November 1969); doi:10.1038/224491a0
On the routine use of soft X-rays in macromolecular crystallography. Part IV. Efficient determination of anomalous substructures in biomacromolecules using longer X-ray wavelengths. C. Mueller-Dieckmann, S. Panjikar, A. Schmidt, S. Mueller, J. Kuper, A. Geerlof, M. Wilmanns, R. K. Singh, P. A. Tucker and M. S. Weiss. Acta Cryst. (2007). D63, 366-380 [ doi:10.1107/S0907444906055624 ]