ISBN: HB: 9780300263565

Yale University Press

February 2023

312 pp.

21.5x13.9 cm

9 black&white illus.



American Phage Group

Founders of Molecular Biology

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 Delbrock, Salvador Luria, and Alfred Hershey between 1940 and 1960 – and how its new framework of research commitments 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 and were joint recipients of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1969. 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 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.

About the Author

William C. Summers is professor emeritus of therapeutic radiology, molecular biophysics & 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.