Columbians Ahead of Their Time
 Thomas Hunt Morgan
Thomas Hunt Morgan "There is no doubt that man, as an animal, inherits characteristics, good and evil, as do animals and plants."

Thomas Hunt Morgan (1866–1945)
Faculty 1904–28

Morgan's studies on inherited characteristics of the fruit fly laid the foundations of modern genetics and led to such advances as the deciphering of the human genome. His work earned him the 1933 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, making him the first native-born American to receive that honor. He also authored classic texts in genetics including Heredity and Sex (1913), The Physical Basis of Heredity (1919), Embryology and Genetics (1924), Evolution and Genetics (1925), The Theory of the Gene (1926), Experimental Embryology (1927), and The Scientific Basis of Evolution (1932).

Morgan received his PhD in developmental biology from Johns Hopkins University in 1890 and taught at Bryn Mawr College before arriving at Columbia in 1904 to assume a newly established chair in experimental zoology. In 1910, he began his study of Drosophila melanogaster, the insect with which his name will always be associated. It was working with undergraduate students Calvin Bridges and Alfred Sturtevant, and in Schemerhorn Hall's "Fly Room" with graduate and postdoctoral scientists such as Hermann J. Mueller and George Beadle, that Morgan discovered the chromosomal basis for the inheritance of traits. He left Columbia in 1928 to serve as chair of the Biology Division at the California Institute of Technology.

Read more about Morgan in the Columbia Encyclopedia.
Living Legacy

Morgan at Columbia


Carrying on the work


Genetics and biology in the 21st century


How genetic research will influence the future diagnosis and treatment of human diseases

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