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Table of Contents
Oswald Avery was a medical researcher and physician. He was one of the pioneer molecular biologists and is best known for isolating DNA as the material that makes up chromosomes and genes.
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Key Facts & Information
- Oswald Theodore Avery was born on October 21, 1877, in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.
- His father was Francis Joseph Avery and his mother was Elizabeth Crowdy. His parents emigrated in 1873, from Britain.
- When Oswald was 10, his family moved out to New York due to his father’s work.
- Oswald, together with his older brother, learned how to play the cornet by themselves.
- Oswald was a very talented musician and was given a scholarship to the National Conservatory of Music. He did not use the scholarship, however.
- Avery graduated from New York Male Grammar School in 1893 and got admitted to the Colgate Academy in 1896.
- He initially studied music and decided to shift to medicine by the fall of 1900. He transferred to the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia University in New York.
- Oswald graduated and started his general medical practice at age 26, in 1904.
- After some years in clinical practice, Avery decided to be a microbiologist.
- He worked at the Hoagland Laboratory and became the assistant director of the laboratory in 1907.
- Oswald started his career in research by studying fermented milk products and their role in controlling the harmful bacteria in human gut.
- While working in the institute, he published 9 papers in academic journals.
- His paper about tuberculosis got the attention of Rufus Cole and offered him a job at the Rockefeller Institute Hospital. He became a staff of the hospital in 1913.
- Here, he began his research on the pneumococcus, the bacterium responsible for lobar pneumonia.
- Cole, Alphonse Dochez, and Avery developed the first immune serum that was effective against a strain of pneumococcus.
- Oswald and his colleagues were able to isolate a substance produced by the pneumococcus from the urine and blood of infected people.
- They learned that the substance was a complex carbohydrate which comprises the capsular envelope of the bacterium.
- Avery aided in classifying pneumococci into different types, based on what polysaccharide makes up its capsular envelope.
- Oswald also discovered that the polysaccharide in the envelope could stimulate an immune response. He was the first person to demonstrate that other substances besides protein can also trigger an immune response.
- During WWI, Avery attempted to be in the U.S. Army Medical Corps but was refused because he was not a citizen.
- Oswald then enlisted in the lowest rank, as a private, and was later naturalized as a citizen for his active duty during wartime.
- In 1932, Avery became interested in the research of Frederick Griffith, a British microbiologist.
- The results of Griffith’s study showed that virulent strains can transform nonvirulent strains of bacteria into pathogenic strains.
- Griffith also noted that the transformation can be passed on to the bacteria’s succeeding generations.
- Avery then began research to determine the chemical composition of the substance that made the transformation possible.
- In 1944, Oswald, together with Colin MacLeod and Maclyn McCarty, reported that the substance for the transformation and is the genetic material of the cell was the DNA.
- Their discovery was met with skepticism as many scientists credited proteins as the repository of hereditary information.
- One of the scientists that quickly accepted the work of Avery was Erwin Chargaff. Chargaff was able to take on more research into understanding the role of DNA in genetics.
- Avery lived long enough to witness Francis Crick and James Watson’s discovery of the DNA structure and its replication mechanism.
- Oswald was nominated for a Nobel Prize for his work on the DNA but was never awarded the prize.
- In 1945, he was given the Copley Medal from the British Royal Society.
- In 1947, he received the Albert Lasker Award for Basic Medical Research, America’s major prize in medicine.
PERSONAL LIFE AND DEATH
- Avery was a notable debater and public speaker when he was in college, but was usually reluctant to speak in public in his professional life.
- His colleagues called him “Fess”, short for Professor.
- Oswald spent his vacations by sailing, and he never lost his love for music.
- At age 71, he relocated to Nashville, Tennessee, renting a large house near the home of his younger brother.
- Avery never married and didn’t have any child. Spending a lot of time with his brother’s family.
- On February 20, 1955, Oswald died of liver cancer and was buried in Mount Olivet Cemetery in Nashville.
- The Rockefeller Archive and the Tennessee State Library stores collected papers of Oswald Avery.
- The National Library of Medicine also has an Oswald T. Avery Collection which includes many of Oswald’s handwritten lab-notes, papers, and poems.
Oswald Avery Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about Oswald Avery across 23 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Oswald Avery worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about Oswald Avery who was a medical researcher and physician. He was one of the pioneer molecular biologists and is best known for isolating DNA as the material that makes up chromosomes and genes.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Avery’s Life
- Childhood Places
- Jungled Match
- Known Bacteria
- Questioning Avery
- Micro Words
- Minute Importance
- Sick Research
- From World War II
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