Matthew Meselson

Matthew Meselson

Scientist Less

Matthew Meselson

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Matthew Stanley Meselson (born May 24, 1930) is an American geneticist and molecular biologist whose research was important in showing how DNA replicates, recombines and is repaired in cells. In his mature years, he has been an active chemical and biological weapons activist and consultant. He is married to the medical anthropologist and biological weapons writer Jeanne Guillemin.


Youth and education

Meselson studied chemistry at the University of Chicago and graduated in 1951. He went on to study under Linus Pauling who assigned him work on x-ray crystallography which he later wrote a thesis on in 1958. He was a research fellow and then Assistant Professor of Physical Chemistry at CalTech until he joined the Harvard faculty in 1960, where he conducts research in molecular genetics and evolution. He started in Harvard as associate professor and taught undergraduate genetics for many years.

DNA breakthroughs

In 1957 with Franklin Stahl he showed that DNA replicates semi-conservatively. The Meselson-Stahl experiment used the Escherichia coli grown in the presence of the nitrogen isotope nitrogen-15, which was then switched to be grown with normal nitrogen, nitrogen-14. When they extracted the DNA using density centrifugation they found three types of DNA, one containing nitrogen-15, one containing nitrogen-14, and a hybrid containing both isotopes. When the hybrid DNA was made single stranded by heating, they could show one parental strand and one that had...
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