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Werner Arber

Werner ArberBorn: 3-Jun-1929
Birthplace: Gränichen, Switzerland

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

Nationality: Switzerland
Executive summary: Restriction enzymes (DNA cleavage)

Swiss microbiologist Werner Arber was awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine or Physiology in 1978, sharing the $165,000 award with Daniel Nathans and Hamilton O. Smith. Observing that when a virus entered bacterium, most of the viral deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) was destroyed, Arber theorized that the bacterium produced an enzyme that severed the viral DNA into smaller pieces. Nathans and Smith later proved that Arber was correct -- that certain enzymes, called 'restriction enzyme' or 'restriction endonuclease', cleave long strands of DNA into tiny fragments. These fragments, which retain their genetic information, led to the development of gene splicing -- techniques for separating, manipulating, and eventually altering this basic genetic material.

After winning his Nobel honors, Arber became an outspoken participant in the establishment of guidelines to conduct recombinant DNA research safely and ethically. His daughter, Silvia Arber, is a professor of neurobiology at the University of Basel, studying neuronal circuit formation in the developing spinal cord.

Wife: Antonia Arber
Daughter: Silvia Arber (neurobiologist, b. 1968)
Daughter: Caroline Arber (b. 1974)

    High School: Alte Kantonsschule Aarau Gymnasium, Aarau, Switzerland (1949)
    University: BS Natural Sciences, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich (1953)
    Scholar: BS Biology, University of Geneva (1953)
    University: PhD Biophysics, University of Geneva (1958)
    Scholar: Bacteriology, University of Southern California (1960)
    Teacher: Molecular Genetics, University of Geneva (1960-65)
    Scholar: Molecular Biology, UC Berkeley (1963)
    Professor: Molecular Genetics, University of Geneva (1965-70)
    Professor: Molecular Biology, UC Berkeley (1970-71)
    Professor: Microbiology, University of Basel (1971-)

    Nobel Prize for Medicine 1978 (with Daniel Nathans and Hamilton O. Smith)
    Pontifical Academy of Sciences
    Swiss Ancestry

Official Website:

Author of books:
Genetic Manipulation: Impact on Man and Society (1984)

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