The Info List - Martha Chase

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Martha Cowles Chase (November 30, 1927 – August 8, 2003), also known as Martha C. Epstein,[1] was an American geneticist known for having in 1952, with Alfred Hershey, experimentally helped to confirm that DNA
rather than protein is the genetic material of life.


1 Early life and college education 2 Research and later life 3 Key paper 4 References 5 External links

Early life and college education[edit] Chase was born in 1927 in Cleveland, Ohio, and had a single sibling, Ruth Chase (now Ruth Daziel).[1] She received a bachelor's degree from the College of Wooster
College of Wooster
in 1950, then worked as a research assistant before returning to school in 1959 and receiving a PhD
in Microbiology from the University of Southern California
University of Southern California
in 1964.[2][3] Research and later life[edit] In 1950, Chase began working as a research assistant at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in the laboratory of bacteriologist and geneticist Alfred Hershey. In 1952, she and Hershey performed the Hershey–Chase experiment, which helped to confirm that genetic information is held and transmitted by DNA, not by protein. The experiment involved radioactively labeling either protein or nucleic acid of the bacteriophage T2 (a virus that infects bacteria) and seeing which component entered E coli
E coli
upon infection. They found that nucleic acids but not protein were transferred, helping resolve controversy over the composition of hereditary information. Hershey won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for the discovery in 1969, but Chase was not included.[1] Chase left Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
in 1953 and worked with Gus Doermann at Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Oak Ridge National Laboratory
in Tennessee, and later at the University of Rochester. Throughout the 1950's, she returned yearly to Cold Spring Harbor to take part in meetings of the Phage Group of biologists.[2] In 1959, she began doctoral studies at University of Southern California
University of Southern California
in the laboratory of Giuseppe Bertani. Bertani moved to Sweden and Chase finished her thesis with Margaret Lieb in 1964.[4] While in California, Chase met and married fellow scientist Richard Epstein in the late 1950's and changed her name to Martha C. Epstein. The marriage was brief and they divorced shortly after with no children.[1] A series of personal setbacks through the 1960s ended her career in science. She moved back to Ohio to live with family and spent the last decades of her life suffering from a form of dementia that robbed her of short-term memory. She died of pneumonia on August 8, 2003, at the age of 75.[2] Key paper[edit]

Hershey, A. D. and Martha Chase. "Independent Functions of Viral Protein
and Nucleic Acid in Growth of Bacteriophage." J. Gen. Physiol., 36 (1): 39-56. September 20, 1952.


^ a b c d Dawson, Milly (2003-08-20). " Martha Chase
Martha Chase
dies". The Scientist. Retrieved 2010-09-25.  ^ a b c Lavietes, Stuart. "Martha Chase, 75, a Researcher Who Aided in DNA
Experiment". The New York Times.  ^ "Reactivation Of Phage-P2 Damaged By Ultraviolet Light :: University of Southern California
University of Southern California
Dissertations and Theses". digitallibrary.usc.edu. Retrieved 2018-03-12.  ^ Illuminating life : selected papers from Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, 1903-1969. Witkowski, J. A. (Jan Anthony), 1947-, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. Cold Spring Harbor, N.Y.: Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press. 2000. ISBN 9780879695668. OCLC 42462623. 

External links[edit]

Gallery Martha Epstein Chase, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Gallery 18: Alfred Hershey
Alfred Hershey
and Martha Chase, 1953, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Thesis paper: “Reactivation of Phage P2 Damaged by Ultraviolet Light,” 1964

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