Born: 16 June 1902, Hartford, CT, USA
Died: 2 September 1992, Huntington, NY, USA
Affiliation at the time of the award: Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Cold Spring Harbor, NY, USA
Prize motivation: "for her discovery of mobile genetic elements"
Prize share: 1/1
Many characteristics of organisms are determined by heredity - that is, by their genes - which are stored in the chromosomes inside their cells' nuclei. Barbara McClintock studied corn's hereditary characteristics, for example the different colors of its kernels. She studied how these characteristics are passed down through generations and linked this to changes in the plants' chromosomes. During the 1940s and 1950s McClintock proved that genetic elements can sometimes change position on a chromosome and that this causes nearby genes to become active or inactive.
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