A founder of immunochemistry and molecular biology
Born in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Oswald Avery entered general medical practice following his graduation from Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons. Soon, however, Avery became frustrated with medicine’s inability to help his patients - most of whom were suffering from tuberculosis and pneumonia - and moved to medical research. He accepted a position with the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research, New York where, for the next 35 years, he focused his investigations on pneumococcus, tuberculosis and immunology.
Avery’s greatest contribution came in 1944. In collaboration with his colleagues Colin MacLeod and MacLyn McCarthy, Avery revealed that the substance (i.e., the gene) that could transform one type of pneumococcus into another was deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA).