7 December 2017Erwin ChargaffThe scientist I researched was Erwin Chargaff. He was born on August 11, 1905 in whatis now Ukraine. His parents were Hermann Chargaff and Rosa Silberstein, and were both welleducated, German speaking Austrian Jews. The beginning of World War I was July 1914, andduring this time Chargaff and his family were on vacation at a Baltic Sea resort.
When they heardthe news about the war, they knew they couldn’t return home so they headed for Vienna, thecapital of Austria.Chargaff was educated at one of Vienna’s best schools, which was called the MaximiliansGymnasium. There he learned both Greek and Latin, but the school did not teach physics orchemistry, and science was just natural history. Chargaff loved the school, and was veryintellectual for his age.
When he was 18, he chose to study chemistry at the University of Vienna.He studied their for 5 years, and graduated at the age of 23 with a PhD in chemistry. During thistime, Austria was unstable and there were not many job opportunities. So, Chargaff applied forthe Milton Campbell Research Fellowship in Organic Chemistry and set sail for New York.When he arrived, people were suspicious of his student visa considering his title was doctor, sohe was held for a few days until he was rescued by a professor of chemistry at the University ofYale. From 1928 to 1930, Chargaff worked with Rudolph Anderson publishing papers, andstudying two branched chain fatty acids and the tuberculosis bacterium.
In the summer of 1930,Chargaff and his wife went to Berlin because they felt homesick. In Berlin, Chargaff studied atGansereit 2Berlin’s Institute of Hygiene. He had his own individual study there for about 2 years, then heand his wife returned to America due to Adolf Hitler’s political reign. Once back in America,Chargaff began his work as a biochemist at Columbia University in New York. In 1936, he beganhis study of blood coagulation. In 1944, Chargaff learned about Oswald Avery and hiscolleagues’ research at New York’s Rockefeller Institute. Their work suggested that genes weremade of DNA.
Immediately Chargaff was interested, so much so that he decided to wrap up hisother studies and switch his focus entirely to DNA.According to Avery’s research and experiments, Chargaff believed living species weredifferent because of differences in their DNA. With help from his colleagues, some of whichincluded Ernst Vischer and Charlotte Green, Chargaff began getting results that proved histheory. He would prepare DNA, while Vischer and Green would use partition chromatography toseparate it into components for analysis.
Their results then suggested that Chargaff was correctand that there were real differences in DNA from different species. This research helped Chargaffto feel confident enough to focus his studies on DNA bases, which eventually led to hisdiscovery of what people now consider “Chargaff’s Rule.”Thanks to Chargaff’s research and discoveries, people today know that DNA has differentnumbers of bases, and that the strands of DNA are made up of nucleotide links. For Chargaff,working with his colleagues was very beneficial to his findings about DNA. Personally, I believewhen working with others it can be difficult for everyone to clearly communicate their thoughtsand ideas, which can make getting tasks done very challenging. Competition might acceleratesome discoveries because most people want the glory and recognition of being the person todiscover something that has never been heard of. In Chargaff’s case, reading and learning aboutinspired him to begin his own and eventually led to huge discoveries for hist