Alexander Hollaender

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Alexander Hollaender
Hollaender at CSH.jpg
Alexander Hollaender at Cold Spring Harbor Symposium, c. 1950's
Photograph by Esther Lederberg
Institutions Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
Known for Radiation-induced mutations
Notable awards Enrico Fermi Award (1983)

Alexander Hollaender (1898–1986) was one of the world's leading researchers in radiation biology and in genetic mutations. In 1983 he was given the Enrico Fermi Award by the United States Department of Energy for his contributions in founding the science of radiation biology, and for his leadership in promoting "scientific exchanges" between American scientists and scientists from developing countries.[1]

In 1939 Hollaender published research showing that the mutations of spores of the ringworm fungus occurred in the same spectrum as the absorption spectrum of nucleic acids indicating that nucleic acids form the building blocks of genes.[2] A young Esther M. Zimmer, who worked with Dr. Hollaender at the U. S. Public Health Service (Bethesda, MD),[3] published with Dr. Hollaender and Milislav Demerec in this very early field of x-ray- and UV-induced mutations.[4][5] Later on, Esther M. Zimmer (now Esther Lederberg) became one of the most influential founders of bacterial and bacteriophage (Lambda) genetics. Later on, Hollaender worked at Oak Ridge National Laboratories with M. Laurance Morse, who himself later went on to collaborate with Esther Lederberg.

His research was not appreciated for its discovery at the time, and later scientists reports were necessary before science accepted the role of nucleic acids as the genetic material.[2] Historians of science now realize his early discovery, and his Fermi Award recognized this discovery.[1][2]

In 1981 Hollaender established the Council for Research Planning in Biological Sciences, and was its president at the time of his death from a pulmonary embolism in 1986.[6] The US National Academy of Sciences gives the Alexander Hollaender Award in Biophysics every three years in his honor.[1]


  1. ^ a b "The Enrico Fermi Award 1983". Archived from the original on 22 December 2009. Retrieved 2009-11-29. 
  2. ^ a b c von Borstel, R. C.; Charles M. Steinberg (July 1996). "Alexander Hollaender: Myth and Mensch". Genetics. 143 (3): 1051–1056. PMC 1207377Freely accessible. PMID 8807280. Retrieved 2009-11-29. 
  3. ^
  4. ^ Hollaender, A. and Zimmer, E. M., January 1945 (September, 1944), "The effect of ultraviolet radiation and X-rays on mutation production in Penicillium notatum", Genetics Society of America 30(1):8; see
  5. ^ Hollaender, A., Sansome E. R., Zimmer, E., Demerec, M., April 1945, "Quantitative Irradiation Experiments with Neurospora crassa. II. Ultraviolet Irradiation", American Journal of Botany 32(4):226-235; see
  6. ^ "Alexander Hollaender". IEEE Global History Network. IEEE. Retrieved 21 July 2011. 

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