Max Schlesinger

Schlesinger, Max


Born 1904; died Feb. 4, 1937, in London. Hungarian biochemist. One of the founders of the molecular biology of viruses.

Schlesinger graduated from the University of Budapest. Beginning in 1931, he was a researcher at the Institute of Colloids in Frankfurt am Main. After the Nazis came to power, Schlesinger emigrated to Great Britain, where he settled in London. His main works dealt with the chemical composition and physicochemical properties of bacterial viruses—bacteriophages. Schlesinger was the first to obtain a pure culture of the bacteriophage WLL of the colon bacillus (1933); he did this by passing a suspension of the bacteriophage through a colloidal filter with a graduated range of pores and then precipitating it in an ultracentrifuge. He was also able to measure the size of the bacteriophage particles. Schlesinger studied the mechanism of adsorption of bacteriophages on the host cell and determined the adsorptive capacity of bacterial cells. He was the first to establish (1934) the nucleoprotein nature of viruses, showing that bacteriophages consist of approximately equal amounts of protein and nucleic acid. In 1936 he found that the latter produces a positive Feulgen reaction to thymonucleic acid (or deoxyribonucleic acid) and that a bacteriophage is a deoxyribonucleoprotein chemically similar to a chromosome.