The American Phage Group


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Founders of Molecular Biology

William C. Summers

View Inside Format: HC - Paper over Board
Price: $65.00
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A fascinating historical account of the American Phage Group and how its new research framework became the foundation for molecular biology
This book is the first critical and analytical study of the American Phage Group—a small group of scientists who gathered around Max Delbrück, Salvador Luria, and Alfred Hershey between 1940 and 1960—and how this novel research program became the foundation of the field of molecular biology. These three young, charismatic, and iconoclastic scientists were convinced of the importance of bacterial viruses (bacteriophages) to the study of the gene and of heredity in general. Based on substantial archival research, numerous participant interviews collected over the past thirty years, and an intimate knowledge of the relevant scientific literature in the field, William C. Summers has written a fascinating new history of the American Phage Group. Rather than a linear narrative of progress by past heroes, this book emphasizes the diversity and historical contingencies in the group’s development.

William C. Summers is professor emeritus of therapeutic radiology, molecular biophysics and biochemistry, and history of science and medicine and a lecturer in history at Yale University, where he taught for nearly fifty years. He lives in New Haven, CT.

“With style, wisdom, and unprecedented depth of understanding, William Summers explores the ‘phage group’ founded by Max Delbrück, and how it contributed to the establishment of molecular biology—arguably the most important development in the life sciences over the past century.”—Nicolas Rasmussen, author of Gene Jockeys: Life Science and the Rise of Biotech Enterprise

“A historically and sociologically nuanced account of a discipline and a research school which played a pivotal role in the emergence of molecular biology, but whose ‘Founding Myth’ has been uncritically accepted for too long.”—James Strick, author of Wilhelm Reich, Biologist

“In this deeply researched new book, Bill Summers skillfully introduces us to the host of characters who created the field of molecular biology, transforming our understanding of all living things.”—Bruce Alberts, coauthor of Molecular Biology of the Cell
ISBN: 9780300263565
Publication Date: January 10, 2023
312 pages, 5 1/2 x 8 1/2
9 b/w illus.
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