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Martha Cowles Chase
Martha Chase.jpg
Born (1927-11-30)November 30, 1927
Died August 8, 2003(2003-08-08) (aged 75)
Lorain, Ohio, USA
Nationality American
Citizenship United States
Alma mater College of Wooster, University of Southern California
Scientific career
Fields Genetics

Martha Cowles Chase (November 30, 1927 – August 8, 2003), also known as Martha C. Epstein, was an American geneticist known for having experimentally showed in 1952 (with Alfred Hershey) that DNA rather than protein is the genetic material of life.

Early Life and Education

Chase was born in 1927 in Cleveland, Ohio. In 1950 she received her bachelor's degree from the College of Wooster. In 1964 Chase received her PhD from the University of Southern California.

Research and Later Life

In 1952 Chase was a young laboratory assistant to American bacteriophage expert Alfred Hershey at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory at the Carnegie Institution for Science. This was where the well-known Hershey-Chase experiment was performed. The experiment , otherwise known as the 'blender experiment' showed that it was DNA, and not protein, that was the genetic material through which traits were inherited.

A series of personal setbacks through the 1960s ended Chase's career in science. She spent decades suffering from a form of dementia that affected her short-term memory. She died of pneumonia on August 8, 2003, at the age of 75.

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