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Edward Tatum
Edward Lawrie Tatum nobel.jpg
Edward Lawrie Tatum

December 14, 1909
Boulder, Colorado, United States
DiedNovember 5, 1975(1975-11-05) (aged 65)
New York City, United States
Alma materUniversity of Chicago
University of Wisconsin–Madison
Known forGene regulation of biochemical events within cells
AwardsNobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine
Scientific career
InstitutionsStanford University
Yale University
Rockefeller Institute
Doctoral students
Other notable studentsEsther M. Lederberg

Edward Lawrie Tatum (December 14, 1909 – November 5, 1975) was an American geneticist. He shared half of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1958 with George Beadle for showing that genes control individual steps in metabolism. The other half of that year's award went to Joshua Lederberg. He was an elected member of the United States National Academy of Sciences,[1] the American Philosophical Society,[2] and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.[3]

Beadle and Tatum's key experiments involved exposing the bread mold Neurospora crassa to x-rays, causing mutations. In a series of experiments, they showed that these mutations caused changes in specific enzymes involved in metabolic pathways. These experiments, published in 1941, led them to propose a direct link between genes and enzymatic reactions, known as the "one gene, one enzyme" hypothesis.

Tatum went on to study genetics in bacteria. An active area of research in his laboratory was to understand the basis of Tryptophan biosynthesis in Escherichia coli. Later, Tatum and his student Joshua Lederberg showed that E. coli could share genetic information through recombination.

Tatum was born in Boulder, Colorado. He attended the college at the University of Chicago for two years,[4] and transferred to the University of Wisconsin–Madison, where he received his BA in 1931 and PhD in 1934.[5] Starting in 1937, he worked at Stanford University, where he began his collaboration with Beadle. He then moved to Yale University in 1945 where he mentored Lederberg. He returned to Stanford in 1948 and then joined the faculty of Rockefeller Institute in 1957. A heavy cigarette smoker, he died in New York City of heart failure complicated by chronic emphysema.


  1. ^ "Edward Tatum". Retrieved 2023-01-09.
  2. ^ "APS Member History". Retrieved 2023-01-09.
  3. ^ "Edward Lawrie Tatum". American Academy of Arts & Sciences. Retrieved 2023-01-09.
  4. ^ McMurray, Emily J.; Kosek, Jane Kelly; Valade, Roger M. (1995). Notable Twentieth-century Scientists: S-Z. Gale Research. p. 1970. ISBN 0810391856.
  5. ^ "Edward Tatum - Biographical". Retrieved 2018-03-03.

Further reading