Eleanor Barbara McClintock
June 16, 1902
September 2, 1992
Place of Birth:
Barbara McClintock was presented a Nobel Prize in Medicine and Physiology for her studies with chromosomes.
Her father was a medical doctor and he moved the family to Brooklyn, New York in 1908.
McClintock graduated from high school in 1919 and then enrolled at Cornell University.
By 1927, Barbara McClintock attained a doctoral degree in Botany as Cornell would not permit women to major in Genetics at the time.
She continued on at Cornell as an instructor and conducting research on maize genetics.
Throughout the 1930's, she worked at several universities while continuing her research.
McClintock's early research in chromosomes was considered ahead of its time and even worthy of a Nobel Prize at that stage.
She proved that changes in the chromosomes could alter the genetics to produce new plant varieties.
Over time, she found that damaged chromosomes repaired themselves and could tie themselves together in a ring.
Because of the difficult nature of her work, many scientists admitted they could not even understand it.
In 1941, Barbara McClintock started what turned out to be a 26 year teaching career at the Carnegie Institution of Washington.
Amongst numerous awards, Carnegie awarded her a Distinguished Service Award upon her retirement.
She also accepted an invitation from Carnegie to remain on as a research scientist.
In 1983, Barbara McClintock at 81 years old, was finally awarded her Nobel Prize for her discovery of mobile genetic elements.
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Last Updated: January 22, 2017
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