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Friedrich Miescher identifies "nuclein," DNA with associated proteins, from cell nuclei

Friedrich Miescher

Friedrich Miescher identifies "nuclein," DNA with associated proteins, from cell nuclei

Friedrich Miescher was born in Basel, Switzerland, in 1844. After completing medical school, he went to the University of Tübingen where he researched white blood cells. White blood cells are found in large quantities in infections, so Miescher collected bandages with infectious materials from a nearby clinic for his research. In 1869, he isolated a new molecule from the cells’ nuclei and called it “nuclein.” Nuclein contained hydrogen, oxygen, and a unique ratio of phosphorus to nitrogen. Although Miescher studied nuclein throughout his career, he and other scientists of that time believed proteins were the molecules by which traits passed from parents to children. The importance of nuclein (DNA) was unrecognized for many years.
1869