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Encyclopedia > Salvador Edward Luria

Salvador Edward Luria (August 13, 1912 - February 6, 1991) was a naturalized American microbiologist whose pioneering work on phage helped open up molecular biology.


Luria was born in Torino, Italy, but fled to France in 1936 and then to the United States in 1940 as his leftist, pacifist views were incongruent with the fascist regime of Italian dictator Benito Mussolini. In the US, his work focussed on the genetics of bacteriophages, viruses that infect bacteria. One of his early graduate students was James D. Watson, who went on to discover the structure of DNA with Francis Crick.


His famous experiment with Max Delbrück in 1943 demonstrated statistically that inheritance in bacteria must follow Darwinian rather than Larmarckian principles and that mutant bacteria occurring randomly can still bestow viral resistance without the virus being present. The idea that natural selection affects bacteria has profound consequences, for example, it explains how bacteria develop antibiotic resistance.


Along with Max Delbrück and Alfred Hershey, Luria was awarded the 1969 Nobel Prize in physiology and medicine. He died in Lexington, Massachusetts.


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Salvador Luria (787 words)
Salvador Edward Luria was born on August 13, 1912, in Torino, Italy.
In 1950, Luria was appointed by the University of Illinois as Professor of Microbiology.
A decade later, Luria moved to MIT, where he remained until retirement; from 1959-1964 he was the Professor of Microbiology; in 1964, he became the Sedgwick Professor of Biology; in 1970, he was appointed Institute Professor at the Department of Biology.
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