Frank Davis still recalls with clarity the discovery of the double-helix structure of DNA by two Cambridge scientists in 1953. It was a watershed moment for Davis and countless others. "The race was on, not only at Berkeley, but across the country at all the big research universities, to learn everything that could be known about the genetic code," said Davis, who at the time was studying the still-young field of nucleic acid chemistry at Cal. "It was very exciting."
A couple years after obtaining his doctorate in biochemistry, Davis left Berkeley for Rutgers University in New Jersey, where he instituted a nucleic acid studies program and began a 29-year teaching career. But his biggest success was still to come: He and two colleagues were awarded a patent in 1979 for a new biological method of delivering drugs to the human body, called PEGylation. Based on this discovery, Davis co-founded Enzon Corp. in 1981 and was able to demonstrate the technique's effectiveness and minimal side effects. His innovation, now being employed by major pharmaceutical manufacturers, has since helped millions of people suffering from immunodeficiency diseases and many other ailments.