Skip to main content

Together we are beating cancer

Donate now

Portrait of Francis Crick’s DNA to be auctioned as part of campaign to fund biomedical research centre named after him

The Cancer Research UK logo
by Cancer Research UK | News

2 October 2015

0 comments 0 comments

Kindra Crick and her DNA sculpture.

A portrait of Francis Crick’s DNA, and a sculpture designed by his granddaughter, Kindra Crick, are to be auctioned at Christie’s as part of Cancer Research UK’s campaign to raise money to help build the Francis Crick Institute, a world-leading centre of biomedical research due to open in 2016.“This artwork is dedicated to my grandparents, my aunt, and all who have battled cancer.” – Kindra Crick

The family of Francis Crick were given the unique artwork, which maps the genetic sequence of one of the greatest scientists of the 20th century, Francis Crick.

The Crick Genome Portrait, created and signed by visionary geneticist Dr J Craig Venter, compares Francis Crick’s unique genetic sequence with a standard ‘reference’ genome. The artwork features two world maps that track his parent’s genetic lineage, and also highlights interesting genes, including ones that suggest an inherited cancer risk.

Francis Crick’s co-discovery of the structure of DNA made it possible for Dr Venter to sequence the human genome 47 years later.

Kindra Crick has designed a DNA sculpture for the auction entitled What Mad Pursuit, which is inspired by her family’s contribution to the discovery of the structure of DNA.  Her grandfather, Francis Crick, is best known for his work elucidating the structure of DNA and her grandmother, Odile Crick, is the artist who first drew the iconic image of the double helix molecule.  

Kindra Crick said, “One strand of the double helix sculpture uses imagery from my grandad’s letters and his many chalkboards. The complementary strand draws on abstracted cellular imagery I have been using in my artwork as a metaphor for infectious ideas. Not only can people pass on their genetics, but also their ideas, which metaphorically spread and grow.

“This artwork is dedicated to my grandparents, my aunt, and all who have battled cancer. The Francis Crick Institute’s mission is to speed the pace of discovery through collaboration and improve the lives of real patients. That’s important to me.  It’s an inspiring vision and in line with my grandad’s philosophy of tackling fundamental problems.”

The items are being auctioned alongside 11 other pieces online, and 13 pieces which appeared in a live auction.  It is the culmination of Cancer Research UK’s DNA art trail, which saw 21 DNA-inspired sculptures take to the streets of London over the summer, designed by leading artists and brands.  They are now being auctioned, and the money raised will go towards the charity’s campaign to raise money to help finish the Francis Crick Institute.

When it opens in 2016, the Francis Crick Institute will see more than 1,200 scientists coming under one roof to accelerate the rate of progress in tackling the major diseases, such as cancer, facing the global population.  It is a visionary collaboration between six of the world’s leading medical research organisations: Cancer Research UK, the Medical Research Council (MRC), the Wellcome Trust, Imperial College London, King’s College London and UCL (University College London).

Francis Crick was one of the people to discover the DNA double helix, alongside James Watson and Maurice Wilkins, and based on the work of Rosalind Franklin.  It is thought to be one of the most significant discoveries in modern science and has transformed our understanding of the human body and disease.  Crick was noted for his intelligence, openness to new ideas and collaborations with scientists working in different fields of expertise which are founding principles for the institute.

The online auction will run from 30 September until 13 October. To bid or register interest, please visit: For more information on Cancer Research UK’s campaign to raise money for the Francis Crick Institute, visit   


For further information, please contact the Cancer Research UK press office on 0203 469 8300. Out of hours, please call the duty press officer on 07050 264 059.