Max Delbruck

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Related to Max Ludwig Henning Delbruck: Alfred D Hershey, Salvador Luria

Delbrück, Max

(1906–81) geneticist, virologist; born in Berlin, Germany. Trained as a physicist, he performed research in Europe, where he devised mathematical proofs for the chemical bonding of lithium and published two scientific papers on quantum mechanics. He began his fundamental investigations on bacteria and their viruses (bacteriophages) after coming to the U.S.A. to join the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) (1937–39). He continued his bacteriophage research through his years at Vanderbilt University (1940–47), where he showed that viruses can recombine genetic material (1946). Delbruk returned to Caltech (1947–76), where he later turned his interest to sensory physiology. With fellow bacteriophage researchers Salvador Luria and Alfred Hershey, he won the 1969 Nobel Prize in physiology for his contributions to viral genetics.

Delbrück, Max


Born Sept. 4, 1906, in Berlin. American physicist, geneticist, and virologist. Member of the US National Academy of Sciences.

A German by birth, Delbrück studied at the universities of Tubingen, Berlin, Bonn, and Göttingen from 1924 to 1930, receiving the degree of doctor of philosophy from the University of Göttingen. From 1932 to 1937 he worked at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute. In 1937 he emigrated to the United States and worked at the California Institute of Technology (Pasadena, Calif.), where he became a professor of biology in 1947. His major works are devoted to nuclear physics, the analysis of spontaneous and induced mutations, bacteriophages, the physiology of the sense organs, and the quantum theory of the structure of chemical substances. For his work in the field of bacteriophages, Delbrück was awarded a Nobel Prize in 1969 (with A. Hershey and S. Luria).


“Cosmic Rays and the Origin of Species.” Nature, 1936, vol. 137, p. 358. (With H. W. Timofeeff-Ressovsky.)
“On the Mechanism of DNA Replication.” (With G. S. Stent.) In the book Symposium on the Chemical Basis of Heredity. Edited by W. D. McElroy and B. Gloss. Baltimore, Md., 1957.