Friday, September 17, 2010

#womeninscience - Dr. Margaret Oakley Dayhoff

Anyone who is in the large (sub)field of biology / bioinformatics heck probably even chemistist who work on biological materials know the one letter codes for the 20 essential amino acids. How many of you know who came up with code and why?

Well it was Dr. Margaret Oakley Dayhoff, biochemist / biophysicist and one of the pioneers of what is now known as bio-informatics. I only learned of her this summer when I was figuring out a way to relearn all the one letter codes. I am sad that it took me so long to learn of her. Some one so accomplished really should be better known and the cynic in me thinks that if she was a white guy, she would be. She is the Grand Dame of Bioinformatics.

Some of the highlights from her website:

  • Among Dr. Dayhoff’s many contributions to science, the one she is most known for is the creation of computerized protein and DNA sequence databases, (Who doesn't use those?!) which were developed because of her research interests in bio-molecular evolution.
  • Her work produced statistical and computational methods for studying protein and nucleic acid structures that were critical to a large number of practical applications in the healing sciences, including the production of useful substances through genetic engineering

Well now you all know her too.


Cath@VWXYNot? said...

I'd never heard of her either :( Thanks for sharing your discovery!

ScientistMother said...

Cath - makes me wonder how many other great women their are? the biophysical society is a real boys club, especially back in the day. She must've been made of steel.