Thursday, February 7, 2013

Ruth Sager

“Science is a way of life. I think it all comes from the inside. It really gets to the very core of your existence. It is much like being an artist or a dancer. It's something that demands everything from you that you are capable of.” 
—Ruth Sager

Born this day in 1918: Ruth Sager (1918–1997), noted experimentalist and geneticist who discovered the importance of nonchromosomal genes

Ruth Sager was a native of Chicago, Illinois. She earned a B.S. from the University of Chicago (1938), an M.S. from Rutgers University (1944) , and a Ph.D. from Columbia University (1948).  She was a research fellow at the Rockefeller Institute (1949–1951) and a research associate at Columbia University (1955–1965). From 1965 to 1975 she was a professor of biology at Hunter College, where she was able to continue her research.
Sager’s field of expertise was genetics. In 1961 she co-authored, with Francis Ryan, the first textbook on molecular genetics: Cell Heredity: An Analysis of the Mechanics of Heredity at the Cellular Level. Her major contributions to the field during this portion of her career were her innovative research methods and her determination that hereditary traits could be passed on by nonchromosomal genes.
During the second phase of her career Sager was a pioneer in the study of the genetics of cancer. During the 1970s she began working at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and became chief of the Cancer Genetics Division and professor of cellular genetics at Harvard Medical School (1975–1988).
Ruth Sager was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1977. She was also a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Among her honors are the Gilbert Morgan Smith Medal from the NAS, an Outstanding Investigator Award from the National Cancer Institute, and a Guggenheim fellowship.

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