Erwin Chargaff

(redirected from Chargaff, Erwin)
Also found in: Medical.
Erwin Chargaff
BirthplaceCzernowitz, Austria-Hungary
Known for Chargaff's rules
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Chargaff, Erwin


Born Aug. 11, 1905, in Czernowitz, Austria-Hungary (now Chernovtsy, Ukrainian SSR). Biochemist. Austrian by nationality; a resident of the USA since 1928 (US citizen since 1940). Member of the National Academy of Sciences (1965); member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (1961).

Chargaff received his doctorate from the University of Vienna in 1928. He conducted research at Yale University from 1928 to 1930, at the University of Berlin from 1930 to 1933, and at the Pasteur Institute in Paris in 1933 and 1934. In 1935 he joined the staff of Columbia University, where he held a professorship in biochemistry from 1952 to 1974.

Chargaff has devoted his research primarily to the biochemistry of nucleic acids and the interrelationships of the nitrogenous bases in these acids. He discovered that the deoxyribonucleic acids (DNA) in different biological species differ from one another in the molar amounts of the constituent bases they contain, and between 1950 and 1953 he discovered a rule concerning base-pairing regularities in DNA. Chargaff’s rule states that there is a constant ratio of purines to pyrimidines in DNA (that is, the total amount of purine bases—adenine and guanine—is in constant ratio to that of the pyrimidine bases thymine and cytosine); ribonucleic acids, however, usually contain somewhat larger amounts of purines than pyrimidines.


Essays on Nucleic Acids. Amsterdam-New York-London, 1963.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.