DNA: Heredity’s Molecule


How are our genes transferred from generation to generation? How are the biochemical processes in our cells controlled? Deoxyribonucleic acid – or DNA – can help us answer these questions. Fifty years ago, in 1962, Francis Crick, James Watson and Maurice Wilkins were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for having clarified the structure of the DNA molecule.

Photo: Gabriel Hildebrand

Knowledge of the structure of the DNA molecule has enriched and opened the door to a range of research in biology and medicine. The structure of the DNA molecule – a long double helix – provided a key to understanding how the genetic material of organisms is transferred. Among other things, the structure explains how a molecule can copy itself. The molecule's structure also provides clues to understanding how DNA controls the formation of the proteins required for the life and development of organisms. This knowledge about DNA has also made possible new opportunities for artificially altering the genome of organisms. This has played an important role in the production of pharmaceuticals and foodstuffs. Our growing understanding of DNA requires us to address scientific, technological and ethical questions.

Using four display cases, the Nobel Museum presents this and other Nobel Prize-winning discoveries that have increased our understanding of the chemistry and biology of heredity:

  • DNA – heredity's molecule
  • Road to the structure – X-ray crystallography
  • From DNA to RNA to protein
  • Genetics and Gene technology

An audioguide is available in Swedish and English.

Circa 70 Nobel Prize Laureates have been awarded for works relataed to the discovery of the DNA molecule and its structure. Read more about these in the touchscreen which is available in the exhibition.


The Nobel Museum hosts both permanent and temporary exhibitions, on the Nobel Prize, the Nobel Laureates, Alfred Nobel and related topics.

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