Oswald Avery


Oswald Avery is born

October 21, 1877

Oswald Theodore Avery was born on October 21, 1877 in Halifax, Nova Scotia in Canada to Joseph Francis Avery and Elizabeth Crowdy.

Family moved to USA

Approx. 1887

Avery's family moved to New York City so his father could take the position of pastor of Mariner’s Temple Baptist.

Avery's brother and father die

Approx. 1892

His brother Ernest died caused by a disease called tuberculosis and his father died due to kidney disease.

Avery graduates


Earning his diploma from the New York Male Grammar School, Avery went to the Colgate Academy and then Colgate University.

Avery graduates Colgate


He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in humanities in June 1900, at age 22.

Avery takes Medicine in University

Approx. October 1900

Avery entered medical school at Columbia University in New York.

Avery graduates Medicine


In 1904, Avery graduated and moved into general medical practice at age 26.

Avery became a microbiologist


He decided to become a microbiologist due to many of his patients being sick and having incurable diseases.

Avery starts doing research on bacteria and cells


Avery became assistant director of the Hoagland Laboratory in Brooklyn, New York. There, in addition to teaching students, he trained in modern chemical and bacteriological methods.

Avery becomes a bateriologist

September 1913

became a bacteriologist at the Rockefeller Institute after Rufus Cole, director of the Rockefeller Institute in Manhattan saw the papers about Avery's experiments.

Avery went to WWI

1917 - 1918

Avery was enlisted as a private because he was not a citizen. Then, because he was on active duty in wartime, he was naturalized as an American citizen. In 1918, he was promoted to Medical Corps Captain.

Macleod joins Avery during his experiments.


Avery was joined by a new young researcher, Colin MacLeod.

Macleod decides to leave and MacCarty decides to join Avery


During this time MacLeod decided to leave the project. After MacLeod, Maclyn McCarty, a 30-year-old postdoctoral fellow from Indiana, joined the project

Avery and McCarty find the answer!


The scientists removed all other parts of the cell to leave just the transforming substance. McCarty established by chemical testing that the substance could only be DNA. Avery noted that DNA had not even been found in these bacteria before. Avery, MacLeod, and McCarty submitted their work to the Journal of Experimental Medicine.

Avery won an award


the British Royal Society awarded Avery the Copley Medal.

Avery wins another award


Avery received America’s major prize in medicine, the Lasker Award.

Avery retires


Avery moved to Nashville, Tennessee to be close to the home of his younger brother Roy.

Oswald Avery dies

February 20, 1955

Oswald Theodore Avery died of liver cancer in Nashville at age 78.