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DNA celebrates sixty years
BY ZACH VEILLEUX
Oswald Avery was recruited to Rockefeller in 1913 to find a way to treat pneumococcal pneumonia. But while attempting to understand how one strain of the deadly bacteria could transfer properties to another, Avery — along with young colleagues Colin MacLeod and Maclyn McCarty — stumbled onto something much bigger. Sixty years ago this month, they announced DNA was the chemical basis of heredity. Their studies, which have been likened in their revolutionary impact to the work of Gregor Mendel and Charles Darwin, laid the foundation for James Watson and Francis Crick’s 1953 discovery of the double-helical structure of the DNA molecule. The anniversary celebration at Rockefeller included a cake presented to McCarty, the only one of the three still living.
February 27, 2004