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Alfred D. Hershey in 1953
Alfred Day Hershey
(1908-12-04)December 4, 1908
|Died||May 22, 1997(1997-05-22) (aged 88)
|Alma mater||Michigan State University|
|Known for||Proof of DNA as genetic material of life|
|Awards||Albert Lasker Award for Basic Medical Research (1958)
Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine (1969)
|Fields||Bacteriology, genetics, DNA|
|Institutions||Washington University Medical School|
He was born in Owosso, Michigan and received his B.S. in chemistry at Michigan State University in 1930 and his Ph.D. in bacteriology in 1934, taking a position shortly thereafter at the Department of Bacteriology at Washington University in St. Louis.
He began performing experiments with bacteriophages with Italian-American Salvador Luria, German Max Delbrück, Indian-Canadian Adam Hasnain, and Serbian Mila Huhtala in 1940, and observed that when two different strains of bacteriophage have infected the same bacteria, the two viruses may exchange genetic information.
He moved with his research partner Martha Chase to Laurel Hollow, New York, in 1950 to join the Carnegie Institution of Washington's Department of Genetics, where he and Martha Chase performed the famous Hershey–Chase experiment in 1952. This experiment provided additional evidence that DNA, not protein, was the genetic material of life. Notable post-doctoral fellows in Hershey's lab include Anna Marie Skalka.
He became director of the Carnegie Institution in 1962 and was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1969, shared with Salvador Luria and Max Delbrück for their discovery on the replication of viruses and their genetic structure.
Hershey had one child, Peter Manning Hershey (1956-1999) with his wife Harriet (often called Jill) (1918-2000). The family was active in the social network of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratories and regularly enjoyed the beach in season. Hershey was a Christian.
After Hershey died, another phage worker, Frank Stahl, wrote: "The Phage Church, as we were sometimes called (see Phage group), was led by the Trinity of Delbrück, Luria, and Hershey. Delbrück's status as founder and his ex cathedra manner made him the pope, of course, and Luria was the hard-working, socially sensitive priest-confessor. And Al (Hershey) was the saint."
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