Nobel Prize for Chemistry Awarded for Discovering the Structure of Vitamin B12
Dorothy Hodgkin (1910-1994) was only the third woman to be awarded a Nobel Prize (1964) for working out the molecular structure of vitamin B12. In 1948 she was given some red crystals of the vitamin by Dr. Lester Smith of the Glaxo drug company and asked if she could characterize it. She did, using X-ray crystallography and it took her 13 years to figure out the complex structure, which she finally completed in 1961. This allowed the compound to be synthesized to be used in the treatment of Pernicious Anemia.
In 1985, the National Gallery commissioned Maggi Hambling to portray this remarkable woman as one of the most important chemists of the century. The foreground of this impressionistic painting is a model of the chemical structure of vitamin B12 and the subject is given four hands, holding a pencil, magnifying glass, piece of paper and pointing in a text. This 'artistic license' was a touch to emphasize her firm 'grip' on science and endeavor despite severely deformed hands as result of aggressive and severe rheumatoid arthritis.