American Masters

DNA Discoveries Before Watson and Crick

Clip: Season 33 Episode 1 | 3m

James Watson and Francis Crick discovered DNA’s structure in 1953, but other scientists paved the way for them. Swiss chemist Friedrich Miescher isolated DNA in 1869, testing cell nuclei in pus. In 1944, Oswald Avery, Colin MacLeod and Maclyn McCarty’s study of pneumonia bacteria provided definitive evidence that DNA was the molecule of heredity.

Aired: 01/02/19

Rating: NR

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Major support for American Masters is provided by AARP. Additional funding is provided by Rosalind P. Walter, The Philip and Janice Levin Foundation, Judith and Burton Resnick, Ellen and James S. Marcus, Lillian Goldman Programming Endowment, The Blanche & Irving Laurie Foundation, Vital Projects Fund, Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, The André and Elizabeth Kertész Foundation, Lenore Hecht Foundation, Michael & Helen Schaffer Foundation, and public television viewers.