Vitamin B12 Turns Competitors into Colleagues
When Dorothy Hodgkin (1910-1994) was given a red vitamin B12 crystal to characterize by the Glaxo drug company , Merck & Company had given the same task to John G. White from Princeton University. The race was on to work out the structure of this complex molecule so the winning company could synthesize this life saving cure for Pernicious Anemia. "When we were dreadfully bogged down..." Hodgkin later commented, "... we went into collusion. I think we were regarded as totally unreliable by the firms to which we were attached and we ended up publishing jointly." The structure of the largest molecule ever characterized had been solved by 1956 - by collaboration and not competition.