Edward Lawrie Tatum

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Tatum, Edward Lawrie

Tatum, Edward Lawrie, 1909–75, American geneticist, b. Boulder, Colo., grad. Univ. of Wisconsin (B.A., 1931; M.S., 1932; Ph.D., 1935). From 1937 to 1945 he taught at Stanford and from 1945 to 1948 at Yale. Returning to Stanford in 1948 he became (1956) head of the department of biochemistry. He left Stanford in 1957 to become a member of the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research, New York City. He shared with G. W. Beadle and Joshua Lederberg the 1958 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for work with Beadle establishing that genes in bread mold transmit hereditary characters by controlling specific chemical reactions.
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Tatum, Edward Lawrie


Born Dec. 14, 1909, in Boulder, Colo. American biochemist and geneticist. Member of the National Academy of Sciences (1952).

Tatum graduated from the University of Wisconsin in 1931 and received a doctorate in biochemistry in 1934. He was on the faculty at Stanford University in the years 1937–45 and 1948–56 and at Yale University in the period 1945–48, becoming a professor at Yale in 1946. In 1957 he was appointed a professor at Rockefeller University.

Working with G. Beadle in 1941, Tatum discovered that in fungi of the genus Neurospora, genetic mutation causes the strain to lose its ability to synthesize any amino acid necessary for growth or any vitamin or other growth factor (auxotrophic mutant); in 1945 he discovered the same property in bacteria. In collaboration with J. Lederberg in 1947, Tatum discovered the phenomenon of genetic recombination in bacteria. Together with Beadle, Tatum developed the concept of “one gene-one enzyme,” an idea of fundamental importance to molecular genetics. In 1958 he shared a Nobel Prize with Beadle and Lederberg.


“Genetic Control of Biochemical Reactions in Neurospora.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 1941, vol. 27. (With G.W. Beadle.)
In Russian translation:
“Istoriia odnogo biologicheskogo issledovaniia.” In I. Gershkovich, Genetika, Moscow, 1968.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.