Alfred D. Hershey


Alfred D. Hershey

Photo from the Nobel Foundation archive.

Alfred D. Hershey
The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 1969

Born: 4 December 1908, Owosso, MI, USA

Died: 22 May 1997, Syosset, NY, USA

Affiliation at the time of the award: Carnegie Institution of Washington, Long Island, New York, NY, 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 1952 Hershey and Martha Chase were able to demonstrate that DNA was transferred from bacteriophages to bacteria, a discovery that confirmed DNA as the bearer of genetic information.

To cite this section
MLA style: Alfred D. Hershey – Facts. Nobel Prize Outreach AB 2023. Fri. 22 Sep 2023. <>

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

Coming up

This year’s Nobel Prize announcements will take place 2–9 October. All announcements will be streamed live here on

See the full schedule
Announcement dates

Explore prizes and laureates

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