Max Delbrück’s profile picture

Max Delbrück

Max Delbrück’s profile picture
Net worth 2018: Under Review
Industry: Scientists
Residence: Berlin
Country: German
BirthDay: 4 September 1906
Sigh: Libra
Died On: March 9, 1981
Education: University of Göttingen

Max Delbrück was bornon 4 September 1906 in Berlin, German, is Biophysicist. Max Delbrück was a German born American biophysicist who initiated the study of molecular biology. He won the prestigious Nobel Prize, together with other members of the ‘Phage Group’ - Alfred Day Hershey and Salvador Luria, for their work on bacteriophages. Born in a family of academicians, he was interested in science since childhood and grew up to receive a Ph.D. in physics from the University of Göttingen. When he joined the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Chemistry as a research assistant, his interest in bacteriophages was aroused. Disapproving of the Nazi agenda, he immigrated to the United States in 1937, serving as a faculty member of the California Institute of Technology and later, the Vanderbilt University. Eventually, he became a U.S. citizen. He formed the Phage Group with Luria and Hershey and the trio went on to win the 1969 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine “for their discoveries concerning the replication mechanism and the genetic structure of viruses”. His work encouraged new findings in molecular biology by other scientists, especially the breakthrough discovery that viruses contain the genetic material Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA), and the eventual understanding of the structure of DNA itself.


In 1969, the Phage Group received the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine for their work in bacteriophages, particularly the mechanism of replication in viruses and their genetic structure


In 1961, he took a two-year leave of absence from Caltech to help set up the Institute of Molecular Genetics at University of Cologne, Germany


Meanwhile, his work continued to influence bacteriophage research by other scientists, especially the determination of the three-dimensional, double-helix structure of DNA in 1953 by molecular biologist Francis Crick and physicist James Watson


All through the 1950s and 1960s, researchers and students thronged him for his guidance and critical overview of their papers


His 1949 lecture, ‘A Physicist Looks at Biology’ was reminiscent of his scientific journey


In 1947, he returned to Caltech as a professor of biology and remained there for the rest of his career


In 1946, Delbrück's and Hershey's laboratories separately discovered that different bacteriophage strains on invading the same bacterial cell could randomly exchange genes to form new and unique viral strains


Eventually, they were tried by the People’s Court for plotting to assassinate Hitler and were executed in 1945


In the Phage Treaty of 1944, the Phage Group defined some rules to make sure that findings on bacteriophages from different laboratories could be easily shared, evaluated and ascertained


In their landmark paper of 1943, ‘Mutations of Bacteria from Virus Sensitivity to Virus Resistance’, Delbrück and Luria confirmed that phage-resistant bacterial strains developed through natural selection: once infected with a bacteriophage, the bacterium spontaneously changes so that it becomes immune to the invading virus


In 1941, he met Italian physician Salvador Luria from Indiana University, who was conducting bacteriophage research


He joined the faculty of Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee where he taught physics from 1940 to 1947


They co-authored ‘The Growth of Bacteriophage’ in 1939


A year later in 1938, he met a fellow biologist Emory Ellis, and together they explored bacteriophages and a mathematical system to analyze the results


In 1937, a Rockefeller Foundation fellowship took him to the United States where he researched further on genetics and biochemistry at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in Pasadena


In 1934, he became a member of a group of theoretical physicists and biologists who held intellectual private meetings


In 1933, Delbrück wrote a significant paper on gamma rays, albeit without a concrete conclusion


In 1932, he joined the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Chemistry in Berlin as a research assistant to Lise Meitner, and eventually took an interest in bacteriophages


In 1929, Delbrück received his PhD in physics from the University of Göttingen, after which he spent three years doing postdoctoral studies in England, Switzerland, and Denmark


In 1924, he registered with the University of Tübingen, but changed colleges several times before joining the University of Göttingen


Max Delbrück was born on 4 September 1906, in Berlin, Germany

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