Oswald Avery


Oswald Avery
Oswald Avery

Oswald Avery in 1937
Born October 21, 1877 (1877-10-21)
Halifax, Nova Scotia
Died February 2, 1955 (1955-02-03)
Nashville, Tennessee
Citizenship American
Nationality Canada
Fields molecular biology
Institutions Rockefeller University Hospital
Known for DNA transmits heredity

Oswald Theodore Avery ForMemRS (October 21, 1877 – February 2, 1955) was a Canadian-born American physician and medical researcher. The major part of his career was spent at the Rockefeller University Hospital in New York City. Avery was one of the first molecular biologists and a pioneer in immunochemistry, but he is best known for his discovery in 1944, with his co-workers Colin MacLeod and Maclyn McCarty, that DNA is the material of which genes and chromosomes are made.

The Nobel laureate Arne Tiselius said that Avery was the most deserving scientist not to receive the Nobel Prize for his work.[1]

The lunar crater Avery was named in his honor.

Contents

Biography

Avery was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia. His father was a Baptist minister, who was invited to move to New York City in 1887 to lead a congregation. Avery received his AB degree in 1900 from Colgate University. He earned an M.D. degree from the Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons in 1904. He practiced medicine in New York City until 1907 when he became a researcher at Hoagland Laboratory in Brooklyn, New York.[2] As an adult, Avery suffered from hyperthyroidism (Graves disease) and he underwent thyroid surgery in 1934.[3] He was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1936.[4]

Breakthrough discovery

Double Helix
Discovery
Dna-split2.png
William Astbury
Oswald Avery
Francis Crick
Erwin Chargaff
Max Delbrück
Jerry Donohue
Rosalind Franklin
Raymond Gosling
Phoebus Levene
Friedrich Miescher
Linus Pauling
Sir John Randall
Erwin Schrödinger
Alex Stokes
James Watson
Maurice Wilkins
Herbert Wilson

For many years, genetic information was thought to be contained in cell protein. Continuing the research done by Frederick Griffith in 1927, Avery worked with MacLeod and McCarty on the mystery of inheritance. He had received emeritus status from the Rockefeller Institute in 1943, but continued working for five years, proving that not all breakthrough discoveries are achieved by younger people (by this time he was in his late sixties). Techniques were available to remove various organic compounds from bacteria, and if the remaining organic compounds were still able to cause R strain bacteria to transform then the substances removed could be the carrier of genes. S strain bacteria first had the large cellular structures removed. Then they were treated with protease enzymes, which removed the proteins from the cells before the remainder was placed with R strain bacteria. The R strain bacteria transformed, meaning that proteins didn't carry the genes for causing the disease. Then the remnants of the R strain bacteria were treated with a deoxyribonuclease enzyme which removed the DNA. After this treatment, the R strain bacteria no longer transformed. This indicated that DNA was the carrier of genes in cells.

Alfred Hershey and Martha Chase furthered Avery's research in 1952 with the Hershey-Chase experiment. These experiments paved the way for Watson and Crick's discovery of the helical structure of DNA, and thus the birth of modern genetics and molecular biology. Of this event, Avery wrote in a letter to his son, "It's lots of fun to blow bubbles but it's wiser to prick them yourself before someone else tries to."

Nobel laureate Joshua Lederberg stated that Avery and his laboratory provided "the historical platform of modern DNA research" and "betokened the molecular revolution in genetics and biomedical science generally.

Bibliography

The collected papers of Avery are stored in two locations: the Tennessee State Library and Archives, and the Rockefeller Archive. Many of his papers, poems, and hand written lab-notes are available at the National Library of Medicine in the Oswald T. Avery Collection, the first of their Profiles in Science series. [5]

References

  1. ^ Judson, Horace (2003-10-20). "No Nobel Prize for Whining". New York Times. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?sec=health&res=9C02E4DE123EF933A15753C1A9659C8B63. Retrieved 2007-08-03. 
  2. ^ Lehrer at p. 54-55.
  3. ^ Lehrer at p. 56.
  4. ^ "Book of Members, 1780-2010: Chapter A". American Academy of Arts and Sciences. http://www.amacad.org/publications/BookofMembers/ChapterA.pdf. Retrieved April 28, 2011. 
  5. ^ "The Oswald T. Avery Collection". National Library of Medicine. http://profiles.nlm.nih.gov/CC/Views/Exhibit/narrative/biographical.html. Retrieved April 28, 2011. 

Further reading

Other sources

External links


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  • Avery (surname) — Avery is a surname of ambiguous origin. Some scholars believe that the name is derived from Every or Evreux . The name may have arrived in Britain after the Norman Conquest. It is the name of a county in Normandy. It can also be found in the… …   Wikipedia

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