In 1943 Luria and Delbruck published a paper showing that, contrary to the current view, viruses undergo permanent changes in their hereditary material. That same year he and Delbruck devised the fluctuation test, which provided experimental evidence that phage-resistant bacteria were the result of spontaneous mutations rather than a direct response to changes in the environment. In 1945 Hershey and Luria demonstrated the existence not only of such bacterial mutants but also of spontaneous phage mutants.
Luria became Sedgwick professor of biology at the Massachusetts Institute
of Technology in 1964. In 1974 he became director of the Center for
Cancer Research at MIT. He was an author of a college textbook, General
Virology (1953), and a popular text for the general reader, Life: The
Unfinished Experiment (1973).
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