ⓘ Martha Chase

Martha Chase

ⓘ Martha Chase

Martha Cowles Chase, also known as Martha C. Epstein, was an American geneticist known for having experimentally showed in 1952 that DNA rather than protein is the genetic material of life.


1. Early Life and Education

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


2. 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 Chases 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.


3. Key paper

  • Hershey, A. D. and Martha Chase. "Independent Functions of Viral Protein and Nucleic Acid in Growth of Bacteriophage." J. Gen. Physiol., 36 1: 39-56. September 20, 1952.

4. Other websites

  • Dawson, Milly. Martha Chase Dies. Genome Biology 2003, 4:spotlight-20030820-01 doi:10.1186/gb-spotlight-20030820-01.
  • Linus Pauling and the race for DNA: Martha Chase Archived 2012-02-05 at the Wayback Machine