Oswald Avery in 1937
October 21, 1877|
|Died||2 February 1955|
|Known for||DNA transmits heredity|
|Institutions||Rockefeller University Hospital|
Oswald Theodore Avery (October 21, 1877 – 2 February 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.
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 couldn't 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 brother, "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.
His most important paper where he shows that DNA is the substance that makes up the genes is available on line: Avery, Oswald T., Colin M. MacLeod, and Maclyn McCarty. Studies on the Chemical Nature of the Substance Inducing Transformation of Pneumococcal Types. Journal of Experimental Medicine 79, 2 (February 1, 1944): 137-158.
- René Dubos, The Professor, the Institute, and DNA: Oswald T. Avery, His Life and Scientific Achievements, 1976, Paul & Company, ISBN 0-87470-022-1
- Lehrer, Steven (2006). Explorers of the Body (2nd ed.). United States: iUniverse, Inc. ISBN 0595407315.
- Reichard, Peter (2002). "Osvald T. Avery and the Nobel Prize in medicine". J. Biol. Chem. 277 (16): 13355–62. doi:10.1074/jbc.R200002200. PMID 11872756. Unknown parameter
- Sri Kantha S: Avery's non-recognition in Nobel awards. BioEssays, 1989; 10: 131.
- Avery, O T (2000). "Studies on the chemical nature of the substance inducing transformation of pneumococcal types: Induction of transformation by a desoxyribonucleic acid fraction isolated from Pneumococcus type III. Oswald Theodore Avery (1877-1955)". Clin. Orthop. Relat. Res. 379 (379 Suppl): S3–8. doi:10.1097/00003086-200010001-00002. PMID 11039746. Unknown parameter
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- Austrian, R (1999). "Oswald T. Avery: the Wizard of York Avenue". Am. J. Med. 107 (1A): 7S–11S. doi:10.1016/S0002-9343(99)00109-6. PMID 10451004. Unknown parameter
- Barciszewski, J (1995). "[Pioneers in molecular biology: Emil Fischer, Erwin Schrodinger and Oswald T. Avery]". Postepy Biochem. 41 (1): 4–6. PMID 7777433. Unknown parameter
- Lederberg, J (1994). "The transformation of genetics by DNA: an anniversary celebration of Avery, MacLeod and McCarty (1944)". Genetics. 136 (2): 423–6. PMC 1205797. PMID 8150273. Unknown parameter
- Amsterdamska, O (1993). "From pneumonia to DNA: the research career of Oswald T. Avery". Historical studies in the physical and biological sciences : HSPS / Office of History of Science and Technology, University of California, Berkeley. 24 (pt 1): 1–40. PMID 11623400. Unknown parameter
- Russell, N (1988). "Oswald Avery and the origin of molecular biology". British Journal for the History of Science. 21 (71 Pt 4): 193–400. doi:10.1017/S0007087400025310. PMID 11621687. Unknown parameter
- Pirie, N W (1972). "Avery in retrospect". Nature. 240 (5383): 572. doi:10.1038/240572a0. PMID 4568407. Unknown parameter
- Coburn, A F (1969). "Oswald Theodore Avery and DNA". Perspect. Biol. Med. 12 (4): 623–30. PMID 4900165. Unknown parameter
- HOTCHKISS, R D (1965). "Oswald T. Avery: 1877-1955". Genetics. 51: 1–10. PMID 14258070. Unknown parameter
- "Oswald Theodore Avery, 1877-1955". J. Gen. Microbiol. 17 (3): 539–49. 1957. PMID 13491790. Unknown parameter
- DOCHEZ, A R (1955). "Oswald Theodore Avery, 1877-1955". Trans. Assoc. Am. Physicians. 68: 7–8. PMID 13299298. Unknown parameter
- Kay, Alan (1970). "Avery, Oswald T.". Dictionary of Scientific Biography. 1. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons. pp. 342–343. ISBN 0684101149.
- Key Participants: Oswald T. Avery - Linus Pauling and the Race for DNA: A Documentary History