Thomas Hunt Morgan

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Thomas Hunt Morgan (September 25, 1866 – December 4, 1945) was an American evolutionary biologist, geneticist and embryologist and science author who won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1933 for discoveries relating the role the chromosome plays in heredity.[1]

Morgan received his PhD from Johns Hopkins University in zoology in 1890 and researched embryology during his tenure at Bryn Mawr. Following the rediscovery of Mendelian inheritance in 1900, Morgan's research moved to the study of mutation in the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster. In his famous Fly Room at Columbia University Morgan was able to demonstrate that genes are carried on chromosomes and are the mechanical basis of heredity. These discoveries formed the basis of the modern science of genetics. He was the first person to be awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his work in genetics. [1].

During his distinguished career, Morgan wrote 22 books and 370 scientific papers,[2] and, as a result of his work, Drosophila became a major model organism in contemporary genetics. The Division of Biology he established at the California Institute of Technology produced seven Nobel Prize winners.


Early life

Morgan was born in Lexington, Kentucky, to Charlton Hunt Morgan and Ellen Key Howard Morgan.[3][1] Part of a long line of Southern aristocracy on his father's side, Morgan was a nephew of Confederate General John Hunt Morgan and his great-grandfather John Wesley Hunt had been the first millionaire west of the Allegheny Mountains. Through his mother, he was the great-grandson of Francis Scott Key, the author of the "Star Spangled Banner", and John Eager Howard, governor and senator from Maryland.[3] However, following the Civil War the family had fallen on harder times with the loss of civil and property rights for those who aided the Confederacy. His father also had difficulty finding work in politics and spent much of his time coordinating veterans reunions.

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