Hermann Joseph Muller

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Muller, Hermann Joseph

(mŭl`ər), 1890–1967, American geneticist and educator, b. New York City, grad. Columbia (B.A., 1910; Ph.D., 1916). A student of Thomas Hunt MorganMorgan, Thomas Hunt,
1866–1945, American zoologist, b. Lexington, Ky., Ph.D. Johns Hopkins, 1890. He was professor of experimental zoology at Columbia (1904–28) and from 1928 was director of the laboratory of biological sciences at the California Institute of
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, he taught (1915–18) at Rice Institute, Tex., at Columbia (1918–20), and at the Univ. of Texas from 1920 until he became senior geneticist (1933–37) of the Institute of Genetics in Moscow. In 1945 he became professor of zoology at Indiana Univ. His method for recognizing spontaneous gene mutationmutation,
in biology, a sudden, random change in a gene, or unit of hereditary material, that can alter an inheritable characteristic. Most mutations are not beneficial, since any change in the delicate balance of an organism having a high level of adaptation to its environment
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 led to his discovery of a technique for artificially inducing mutations by means of X rays that has since had broad theoretical and practical application. For this discovery he was awarded the 1946 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. His writings include Out of the Night (1935), Genetics, Medicine, and Man (1947; written with others), and Studies in Genetics (1962). He also wrote articles on the biological effects of atomic radiation.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Muller, Hermann Joseph


Born Dec. 21, 1890, in New York; died Apr. 5, 1967, in Indianapolis, Ind. American geneticist.

Muller graduated from Columbia University in 1910. In 1915 he defended his doctoral dissertation on the mechanism of crossing-over. Between 1915 and 1925, Muller taught in several American higher educational institutions. From 1925 to 1932 he was a professor at the University of Texas. From 1933 to 1937, at the invitation of N. I. Vavilov, Muller worked in the Institute of Genetics of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR in Moscow. From 1937 to 1940 he taught genetics at the University of Edinburgh. From 1945 he was a professor at the University of Indiana.

In 1912–15, Muller (with T. H. Morgan, A. H. Sturtevant, and C. Bridges) contributed to the elaboration of the chromosome theory of heredity. He studied the lawlike regularities of mutation (1920–32) and demonstrated the possibility of artificially inducing mutations (1927) by means of X rays. These experiments created the groundwork for radiation genetics. Muller received the Nobel Prize in 1946. He was an honorary member of several foreign academies of sciences and scientific societies.


Out of the Night: A Biologist’s View of the Future. New York, 1935.
In Russian translation:
Izbrannye raboty po genetike. Moscow-Leningrad, 1937.


Carlson, F. A. “The Legacy of Hermann Joseph Muller (1890–1967).” Canadian Journal of Genetics and Cytology, 1967, vol. 9, no. 3, pp. 436–48.


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