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Frank Ruddle, genetics pioneer, dies at 83

Francis "Frank" Ruddle, Yale professor and inventor of the transgenic mouse, died this month at age 83. One former colleague called him a "serial visionary" for his pioneering work in genetics.

Sterling Professor of Biology, Ruddle "helped lay the groundwork for the Human Genome Project," the New York Times says. By mapping the location of genes, he contributed to scientific understanding of what those genes do.

Ruddle was perhaps best known for creating the first transgenic mouse—an animal to which he added foreign DNA from a couple of viruses—and for coining the word "transgenic" to describe the new hybrid.

The technique might have seemed simple in concept, but the execution was tricky.

“The most important ingredient for a technological breakthrough is a sustained effort in the face of probable failure," he told the Yale Alumni Magazine in 2000. "I convinced the team that we should analyze no fewer than 100 mice before giving up. We hit pay dirt on mouse 48.” 

Ruddle's survivors include his wife of 48 years, Yale emeritus professor of epidemiology Nancy Hartman Ruddle ’68PhD, and two daughters, Kathlyn Ruddle and Amy Ruddle Shohet. 

Filed under Frank Ruddle, genetics
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