Medicine: 1933

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Morgan, Thomas Hunt (1866-1945), an American geneticist, won the 1933 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine for his work on heredity described in The Theory of the Gene (1926). He showed through his experiments that certain characteristics are transmitted from generation to generation through genes.

Morgan studied the laws of heredity by using the fruit fly (Drosophila melanogaster) for experiments in breeding. His research clarified the physical basis for the linkage and recombination of hereditary traits. He was the first to explain sex-linked inheritance, that some traits pass to only one or the other sex. Morgan and his associates proved that genes are arranged on the chromosomes in a fixed linear order.

Morgan began his experiments at Columbia University, where he was professor of biology from 1904 to 1928. He was director of the William G. Kerckhoff Biology Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology from 1928 to 1941. He wrote Evolution and Genetics (1925), Experimental Embryology (1927), and was coauthor of The Mechanism of Mendelian Heredity (1915).

Morgan was born in Lexington, Kentucky. He studied at the University of Kentucky, McGill University, the University of Edinburgh, and received his Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University. His many honors included membership in the Royal Society (1919).

Contributor: Alan R. Rushton, Ph.D., Department of Pediatrics, Hunterdon Medical Center.


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