Oswald Theodore Avery was born on October 21, 1877 in Halifax, Nova Scotia in Canada to Joseph Francis Avery and Elizabeth Crowdy.
Avery's family moved to New York City so his father could take the position of pastor of Mariner’s Temple Baptist.
His brother Ernest died caused by a disease called tuberculosis and his father died due to kidney disease.
Earning his diploma from the New York Male Grammar School, Avery went to the Colgate Academy and then Colgate University.
He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in humanities in June 1900, at age 22.
Avery entered medical school at Columbia University in New York.
In 1904, Avery graduated and moved into general medical practice at age 26.
He decided to become a microbiologist due to many of his patients being sick and having incurable diseases.
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.
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 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.
Avery was joined by a new young researcher, Colin MacLeod.
During this time MacLeod decided to leave the project. After MacLeod, Maclyn McCarty, a 30-year-old postdoctoral fellow from Indiana, joined the project
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.
the British Royal Society awarded Avery the Copley Medal.
Avery received America’s major prize in medicine, the Lasker Award.
Avery moved to Nashville, Tennessee to be close to the home of his younger brother Roy.
Oswald Theodore Avery died of liver cancer in Nashville at age 78.