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Yes, they did deserve to win the Nobel Prize. However, Franklin does not get enough credit for ther work on x-ray crystallography that lead Watson and Crick to discovering the shape of the DNA Helix. Many people believe that Franklin would have also won the Nobel Prize, but she died of cancer before getting awarded the Nobel Prize. Since the Nobel Prize is not awarded to people who have passed away, we can't award her the Nobel Prize.
The discovery of the DNA Helix lead to the development of the technology that allowed for sequencing the human genome. With knowing the sequence of our genome, we are able to get a better understanding of how genes in our body work and how mutations in genes can lead to the development of disease.
Despite Watson’s portrayal of the shady side of research in The Double Helix, I believe that their Nobel Prize was deserved although credit probably should have been shared with Franklin for her contribution to the discovery. The discovery of the molecular formation of DNA was one of the greatest scientific breakthroughs of the century and was the beginning of modern genetic research. It was a key scientific question that had stumped many of the great scientific minds of the times including Linus Pauling. Whatever Watson and Crick had gotten from others along the way, it was still their analysis that actually answered the question correctly. Their years of work and their persistence in the face of scientific naysayers as well as financial frustrations was admirable. The implications of the discovery for medicine in the possibility of cures for genetic diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Cancers, cystic fibrosis, made the discovery a major breakthrough in how we recognize and treat disease. Such a key breakthrough in our understanding of science deserves the recognition of a Nobel Prize.
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