The discovery of DNA – the very building blocks of all life – is arguably the most important discovery of the 20thcentury. DNA, the acronym for deoxyribonucleic acid, was first discovery in the late 1860s by a Swiss chemist named Friedrich Miescher, though much of our understanding of DNA comes from the work of James Watson and Francis Crick, who explained the double helix structure of a DNA strand in 1953 [source: Nature]. Watson and Crick won the Nobel Prize for their work.
In just a few decades, we've come to rely on DNA for such diverse things as paternity testing and criminal investigations. Food production has also benefited tremendously by the discovery of DNA, as scientists have developed methods for growing more nutrient-rich and disease-resistant crops through the use of DNA-based technologies [source: Life in Discovery].
Perhaps most significantly, the discovery of DNA has lead to the identification of genes responsible for countless diseases as well as gene-based therapies designed to prevent or cure them [source: NIH]. While our environment and how we choose to live our lives play a significant role in the person each of us will become, there is no denying that much of what makes up each individual is dictated by DNA.