The Loom

Farewell, Joshua Lederberg

Via Tara Smith, I learned of the passing of Joshua Lederberg. I came to appreciate the full scope of Lederberg’s work while working on my book Microcosm; by discovering the secret sex life of E. coli, he helped build the science of molecular biology. It’s sad to observe the passing of this scientific cohort who together uncovered some of the fundamental secrets of life, including Lederberg’s wife Esther, Seymour Benzer, and Francis Crick. Today we live in an age of big biology; Lederberg won his Nobel prize in large part for the work he did in near solitude as a graduate student. We may not see their likes again.


  1. #1 James McInerney
    February 6, 2008

    For sure, this was a man with a tremendous intellect – uncovering the horizontal transfer of genes in bacteria when molecular biology was not even in existence was a great achievement. I work on interspecies gene transfer and it is still a very important area of science, sixty years after Lederberg and Tatum broke fresh ground.

New comments have been disabled.