Joshua Lederberg


Joshua Lederberg

Photo from the Nobel Foundation archive.

Joshua Lederberg
The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 1958

Born: 23 May 1925, Montclair, NJ, USA

Died: 2 February 2008, New York, NY, USA

Affiliation at the time of the award: University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI, USA

Prize motivation: “for his discoveries concerning genetic recombination and the organization of the genetic material of bacteria”

Prize share: 1/2


It was long thought that bacteria multiply by dividing, so that all bacteria have the same genetic make-up. Joshua Lederberg and Edward Tatum demonstrated in 1946 that bacteria's genes can also change in a way similar to that of sexual reproduction seen in more complex organisms. Bacteria can go through a phase in which two bacteria exchange genetic material with one another by passing pieces of DNA across a bridge-like connection. Lederberg also proved the phenomenon known as transduction, in which DNA is transferred between bacteria via bacteriophages.

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MLA style: Joshua Lederberg – Facts. Nobel Prize Outreach AB 2024. Thu. 25 Jul 2024. <>

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