Martha Chase dies

With Alfred D. Hershey, she established DNA as the genetic material

Milly Dawson(millydawson@alum.wellesley.edu)
Aug 19, 2003

Martha Chase, renowned for her part in the pivotal "blender experiment," which firmly established DNA as the substance that transmits genetic information, died of pneumonia on August 8 in Lorain, Ohio. She was 75.

In 1952, Chase participated in what came to be known as the Hershey-Chase experiment in her capacity as a laboratory assistant to Alfred D. Hershey. He won a Nobel Prize for his insights into the nature of viruses in 1969, along with Max Delbrück and Salvador Luria.

Peter Sherwood, a spokesman for Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, where the work took place, described the Hershey-Chase study as "one of the most simple and elegant experiments in the early days of the emerging field of molecular biology."

"Her name would always be associated with that experiment, so she is some sort of monument," said her longtime friend Waclaw Szybalski, who met her when he joined...