The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 1969
Born: 4 September 1906, Berlin, Germany
Died: 9 March 1981, Pasadena, CA, USA
Affiliation at the time of the award: California Institute of Technology (Caltech), Pasadena, CA, USA
Prize motivation: "for their discoveries concerning the replication mechanism and the genetic structure of viruses."
Prize share: 1/3
Bacteriophages are viruses that attach themselves to bacteria, emptying their genetic material into them, which leads to the rapid spawning of new phage inside the bacteria. By applying genetic concept and developing statistical approaches in their studies of bacteriophages, Max Delbrück, Salvador Luria, and Alfred Hershey were able to shed new light on a range of unanswered questions within genetics. For example, in 1943 Max Delbrück and Salvador Luria proved through statistical investigations that bacteria, like more complex organisms, develop via mutations.