Edward Lawrie Tatum
The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 1958
Born: 14 December 1909, Boulder, CO, USA
Died: 5 November 1975, New York, NY, USA
Affiliation at the time of the award: Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research, New York, NY, USA
Prize motivation: "for their discovery that genes act by regulating definite chemical events."
Prize share: 1/4
Organisms' metabolism - the chemical processes within its cells - are regulated by substances called enzymes. Edward Tatum and George Beadle proved in 1941 that our genetic code, our genes, govern the formation of enzymes. They exposed a type of mold to x-rays, causing mutations, or changes in its genes. They later succeeded in proving that this led to definite changes in enzyme formation. The conclusion was that each enzyme corresponds to a particular gene.
Their work and discoveries range from cancer therapy and laser physics to developing proteins that can solve humankind’s chemical problems. The work of the 2018 Nobel Laureates also included combating war crimes, as well as integrating innovation and climate with economic growth. Find out more.