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Alfred D. Hershey

Alfred D. HersheyAKA Alfred Day Hershey

Born: 4-Dec-1908
Birthplace: Owosso, MI
Died: 22-May-1997
Location of death: Syosset, NY
Cause of death: Heart Failure
Remains: Buried, St. John's Church Cemetery, Oyster Bay, NY

Gender: Male
Race or Ethnicity: White [1]
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Scientist

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Molecular structure of viral genes

American biologist Alfred D. Hershey is best known for an experiment he conducted in 1952, which showed that deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) -- not protein, as had generally been believed -- is the genetic material of life. Hershey's findings provided crucial inspiration to Francis Crick and James Watson in their subsequent unraveling of DNA's double-helix structure. Hershey was awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1969, sharing the honors with Max Delbrück and Salvador Luria.

[1] Appears in Raymond Webser, African American Firsts in Science and Technology (1999), published by Gale Research. If Hershey actually were the first African American to share the Nobel Prize for Medicine, this stunningly important fact is missing from his New York Times Obituary, and from the Scribner Encyclopedia of American Lives, and nearly every important reference. Hershey is not listed in African American Biographies (1992), which contains biographies of 558 living African Americans at the time, nor the book's supplement, African American Biographies, 2 (1994), containing 332 additional biographies. His absence from these works would be an inexcusable omission. It may be that Hershey has a multiracial background. In most of his pictures his race can appear ambiguous though tending towards Caucasian. The stamp issued by Guyana in 1995 has a character quite different from photographs of Hershey.

Father: Robert D. Hershey (auto industry worker)
Mother: Alma Wilbur Hershey
Wife: Harriet Davidson Hershey ("Jill", m. 15-Nov-1945)
Son: Peter Manning Hershey (b. 7-Aug-1956)

    High School: Owosso High School, Owosso, MI (1925)
BS Chemistry, Michigan State University (1930)
    University: PhD Bacteriology, Michigan State University (1934)
    Teacher: Bacteriology, Washington University in St. Louis (1934-50)
    Teacher: Genetics, Carnegie Mellon University (1950-62)
    Administrator: Director, Genetics Research, Carnegie Mellon University (1962)

    Lasker Award 1958
    Nobel Prize for Medicine 1969 (with Max Delbrück and Salvador Luria)
    American Academy of Arts and Sciences
    National Academy of Sciences

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