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Alfred Hershey

  • American scientist
  • Born December 4, 1908
  • Died May 22, 1997

Alfred Day Hershey (December 4, 1908 – May 22, 1997) was an American Nobel Prize–winning bacteriologist and geneticist. 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.


Physical studies of DNA had, of course, been under way for some years before analysis of virus particles began.




Joseph Mandell and I began by attempting to make chromatography of DNA work.




When I began playing around at being a physical chemist, I enjoyed very much doing work on the structure of DNA molecules, something which I would never have dreamed of doing before I started.




Year after year, the Nobel Awards bring a moment of happiness not only to the recipients, not only to colleagues and friends of the recipients, but even to strangers.




Different viral species contain nucleic acids that differ not only in length and nucleotide sequence but in many unexpected ways as well.




That's the nice thing about doing research. Whatever you do is novel, so you always have this sense of novelty, even if you are only using a new gadget.




Virus particles contain single molecules of nucleic acid.




Of course there are depressing periods when nothing appears to be happening. But whenever anything was happening, and even when nothing was happening, it was fun just to do phage experiments.



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