Hermann J. Muller


Hermann Joseph Muller

Photo from the Nobel Foundation archive.

Hermann Joseph Muller
The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 1946

Born: 21 December 1890, New York, NY, USA

Died: 5 April 1967, Indianapolis, IN, USA

Affiliation at the time of the award: Indiana University, Bloomington, IN, USA

Prize motivation: “for the discovery of the production of mutations by means of X-ray irradiation”

Prize share: 1/1


In order to explain how organisms' genes can change, allowing species to evolve and new species to arise, a new term was coined in the late 1880s–mutation. Mutation involves sudden changes in an organism's genetic code. Herman Muller studied the hereditary characteristics of fruit flies and, in 1927, discovered that the number of genetic mutations observed in fruit flies increased when they were exposed to x-rays. He found that the higher the dose of x-rays and other ionizing radiation the flies were exposed to, the greater the number of mutations that occurred.

To cite this section
MLA style: Hermann J. Muller – Facts. NobelPrize.org. Nobel Prize Outreach AB 2024. Sun. 14 Jul 2024. <https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/medicine/1946/muller/facts/>

Back to top Back To Top Takes users back to the top of the page

Nobel Prizes and laureates

Eleven laureates were awarded a Nobel Prize in 2023, for achievements that have conferred the greatest benefit to humankind. Their work and discoveries range from effective mRNA vaccines and attosecond physics to fighting against the oppression of women.

See them all presented here.

Explore prizes and laureates

Look for popular awards and laureates in different fields, and discover the history of the Nobel Prize.