Werner Arber

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Werner Arber
Werner Arber 2008.jpg
Werner Arber (2008)
Born (1929-06-03) 3 June 1929 (age 84)
Gränichen
Nationality Swiss
Fields Microbiology
Institutions University of Geneva, University of Basel
Known for restriction endonucleases
Notable awards 1978, Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine

Werner Arber (born 3 June 1929, Gränichen, Aargau) is a Swiss microbiologist and geneticist. Along with American researchers Hamilton Smith and Daniel Nathans, Werner Arber shared the 1978 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for the discovery of restriction endonucleases. Their work would lead to the development of recombinant DNA technology.

Life and career[edit]

Arber studied chemistry and physics at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zürich from 1949 to 1953. Late in 1953 he took an assistantship for electron microscopy at the University of Geneva, in time left the electron microscope, went on to research bacteriophages and write his dissertation on defective lambda prophage mutants. In his Nobel Autobiography, he writes:

In the summer of 1956, we learned about experiments made by Larry Morse and Esther and Joshua Lederberg on the lambda-mediated transduction (gene transfer from one bacterial strain to another by a bacteriophage serving as vector) of bacterial determinants for galactose fermentation. Since these investigators had encountered defective lysogenic strains among their transductants, we felt that such strains should be included in the collection of lambda prophage mutants under study in our laboratory. Very rapidly, thanks to the stimulating help by Jean Weigle and Grete Kellenberger, this turned out to be extremely fruitful. [...] This was the end of my career as an electron microscopist and in chosing genetic and physiological approaches I became a molecular geneticist.

He received his doctorate in 1958 from the University of Geneva.

Arber then worked at the University of Southern California in phage genetics with Gio ("Joe") Bertani starting in the summer of 1958.[1] Late in 1959 he accepted an offer to return to Geneva at the beginning of 1960, but only after spending "several very fruitful weeks"[2] at each of the laboratories of Gunther Stent (University of California, Berkeley), Joshua Lederberg and Esther Lederberg[3] (Stanford University) and Salvador Luria (Massachusetts Institute of Technology).

Back at the University of Geneva, Arber worked in a laboratory in the basement of the Physics Institute, where he carried out productive research and hosted "a number of first class graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and senior scientists."[2] In 1965 the University of Geneva promoted him to Extraordinary Professor for Molecular Genetics. In 1971, after spending a year as a visiting professor in the Department of Molecular Biology of the University of California in Berkeley, Arber moved to the University of Basel. In Basel, he was one of the first persons to work in the newly constructed Biozentrum, which housed the departments of biophysics, biochemistry, microbiology, structural biology, cell biology and pharmacology and was thus conducive to interdisciplinary research.

Werner Arber is member of the World Knowledge Dialogue Scientific Board and of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences since 1981. He was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1984.[4] Pope Benedict XVI appointed him as President of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences on January 2011, making him the first Protestant to hold the position.[5]

Arber is married and has two daughters.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Arber, Werner". Cartage.org.lb. 1929-06-03. Retrieved 2012-09-09. 
  2. ^ a b "Werner Arber - Autobiography". Nobelprize.org. 1929-06-03. Retrieved 2012-09-09. 
  3. ^ Again from Arber's Nobel Autobiography: "One of the first experiments after my return to Geneva was to render E. coli B and its radiation resistant strain B/r sensitive to phage lambda. The first step to accomplish this was easy thanks to a hint received from Esther Lederberg to look for cotransduction of the Ma1+ and lambdaS characters."
  4. ^ "Book of Members, 1780-2010: Chapter A". American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 22 April 2011. 
  5. ^ "Vatican appoints Protestant as scientific body's head - INQUIRER.net, Philippine News for Filipinos". Newsinfo.inquirer.net. 2011-01-16. Retrieved 2012-09-09. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Konforti, B (Feb 2000). "History. The servant with the scissors". Nature Structural Biology 7 (2): 99–100. doi:10.1038/72469. ISSN 1072-8368. PMID 10655607. 
  • Raju, Tn (Oct 1999). "The Nobel chronicles. 1978: Werner Arber (b 1929); Hamilton O Smith (b 1931); Daniel Nathans (b 1928)". Lancet 354 (9189): 1567. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(05)76606-X. ISSN 0140-6736. PMID 10551539. 
  • Shampo, Ma; Kyle, Ra (Oct 1995). "Werner Arber--Nobel laureate". Mayo Clinic proceedings. Mayo Clinic 70 (10): 945. ISSN 0025-6196. PMID 7564545. 
  • Kroon, Am (Feb 1979). "The Nobel Prize for Medicine and Physiology in 1978 (Werner Arber, Daniel Nathans, Hamilton Smith)". Nederlands tijdschrift voor geneeskunde 123 (5): 153–6. ISSN 0028-2162. PMID 368662. 
  • Piekarowicz, A (1979). "Werner Arber, Daniel Nathans and Hamilton Smith. Nobel prizes for the studies on DNA restriction enzymes". Postepy biochemii 25 (2): 251–3. ISSN 0032-5422. PMID 388391. 
  • Berg, K (Dec 1978). "The Nobel prize in physiology and medicine 1978. Nobel prize to a controversial research field". Tidsskrift for den Norske laegeforening : tidsskrift for praktisk medicin, ny raekke 98 (34–36): 1741–2. ISSN 0029-2001. PMID 725894. 
  • Desiderio, S; Boyer, S (Nov 1978). "Arber, Smith and Nathans: Nobel Laureates in medicine and physiology, 1978". The Johns Hopkins medical journal 143 (5): ix–x. ISSN 0021-7263. PMID 364154. 
  • "The Nobel prizewinners 1978: medicine. From modest beginnings...". Nature 275 (5682): 689–90. Oct 1978. doi:10.1038/275684a0. ISSN 0028-0836. PMID 360075. 
  • Peterson, Lr; Gerding, Dn (Aug 1978). "Protein binding and antibiotic concentrations". Lancet 2 (8085): 376. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(78)92977-X. ISSN 0140-6736. PMID 79742. 
  • Petterson, R (1978). "Nobel prize laureates in physiology and medicine". Duodecim; laaketieteellinen aikakauskirja 94 (23): 1466–9. ISSN 0012-7183. PMID 729493. 

External links[edit]

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Nicola Cabibbo
President of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences
15 January 2011 –
Succeeded by
TBD