Nathans, Daniel, 1928–99, American microbiologist, b. Wilmington, Del., M.D. Washington Univ., St. Louis, 1954. He became a professor at Johns Hopkins in 1962. Nathans worked with Werner Arber and Hamilton Othanel Smith in studying the nature of genes. The trio discovered and used biochemical
scalpelscalled restriction enzymes that can cut genetic material into pieces for various studies and applications. The restriction enzyme technique, a fundamental tool in modern genetic research, helped create the biotechnology industry and provided the basis for the Human Genome Project. For their work they received the 1978 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. In 1993, Nathans was awarded the highest scientific award of the United States, the National Medal of Science.
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