Frances Crick, the co-discoverer of the structure of DNA, won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1962. The medal, along with a selection of other Crick-related items, will be auctioned in April 2013.

The landmark discovery of the double-helix structure by Crick, and his collaborator, James Watson, provided pivotal insight into how organisms carry genetic information. Without the Crick/Watson discovery, our knowledge of how exactly DNA is “packaged” within our cells would be, to put it mildly, lacking. And certainly the technology that allows for DNA testing (including the mind-blowing convenience of a home DNA test) might not exist.

Kindra Crick, Crick’s Granddaughter, noted the medal’s lack of public visibility as a reason for the auction: “It had been tucked away for so long,” she said. “We really were interested in finding someone who could look after it, and possibly put it on display so it could inspire the next generation of scientists.”

Heritage Auctions, along with Crick’s family, plan to use some of the proceeds from the sale of the Nobel Prize medal to fund development of The Francis Crick Institute, which is a medical research facility set to open in London in 2015.

Much has been said about the auction, including the relative lack of precedent for a sale of a Nobel Prize medal. According to LiveScience, “Novel medals appear to have changed hands publicly in only a couple of instances.” This implies a moral question associated with the transaction. What are your thoughts? Should the medal be donated, rather than sold? Should all of the proceeds be donated to the science community? Or should the treatment of the medal remain the right of the Crick family to do with as they please. Let us know on our Facebook page.

Image credit: Heritage Auctions