leagues Oswald Avery and Maclyn McCarty, MacLeod con- ducted experiments on bacterialt r a n s fo r m a t i o nwhich indicated that DNA was the active agent in the genetic trans- formation of bacterial cells. His earlier research focused on the causes ofpneumoniaand the development of serums to treat it. MacLeod later became chairman of the department of microbiology at New York University; he also worked with a number of government agencies and served as White House science advisor to President John F. Kennedy.
MacLeod, the fourth of eight children, was born in Port Hastings, in the Canadian province of Nova Scotia. He was the son of John Charles MacLeod, a Scottish Presbyterian minister, and Lillian Munro MacLeod, a schoolteacher. During his child- hood, MacLeod moved with his family first to Saskatchewan and then to Quebec. A bright youth, he skipped several grades in elementary school and graduated from St. Francis College, a secondary school in Richmond, Quebec, at the age of fifteen. MacLeod was granted a scholarship to McGill University in Montreal but was required to wait a year for admission because of his age; during that time he taught elementary school. After two years of undergraduate work in McGill\u2019s premedical pro- gram, during which he became managing editor of the student newspaper and a member of the varsity ice hockey team, MacLeod entered the McGill University Medical School, receiving his medical degree in 1932.
Following a two-year internship at the Montreal General Hospital, MacLeod moved to New York City and became a research assistant at the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research. His research there, under the direction of Oswald Avery, focused on pneumonia and the Pneumococcal infections which cause it. He examined the use of animal anti- serums (liquid substances that contain proteins that guard
against antigens) in the treatment of the disease. MacLeod also studied the use of sulfa drugs, synthetic substances that coun- teract bacteria, in treating pneumonia, as well as how Pneumococci develop a resistance to sulfa drugs. He also worked on a mysterious substance then known as \u201cC-reactive protein,\u201d which appeared in the blood of patients with acute infections.
MacLeod\u2019s principal research interest at the Rockefeller Institute was the phenomenon known as bacterial transforma- tion. First discovered by Frederick Griffith in 1928, this was a phenomenon in which live bacteria assumed some of the char- acteristics of dead bacteria. Avery had been fascinated with transformation for many years and believed that the phenom- enon had broad implications for the science of biology. Thus, he and his associates, including MacLeod, conducted studies to determine how the bacterial transformation worked in Pneumococcal cells.
The researchers\u2019 primary problem was determining the exact nature of the substance which would bring about a trans- formation. Previously, the transformation had been achieved only sporadically in the laboratory, and scientists were not able to collect enough of the transforming substance to determine its exact chemical nature. MacLeod made two essential contribu- tions to this project: He isolated a strain ofPneumococcus which could be consistently reproduced, and he developed an improved nutrientculturein which adequate quantities of the transforming substance could be collected for study.
By the time MacLeod left the Rockefeller Institute in 1941, he and Avery suspected that the vital substance in these transformations was DNA. A third scientist, Maclyn McCarty, confirmed their hypothesis. In 1944, MacLeod, Avery, and McCarty published \u201cStudies of the Chemical Nature of the Substance Inducing Transformation of Pneumococcal Types: Induction of Transformation by a Deoxyribonucleic Acid Fraction Isolated fromPneumococcus Type III\u201d in theJournal
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