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Myron Brakke

Many advances in biology and biomedical fields could not have been made without Myron Brakke’s landmark contribution to science: the invention of density gradient centrifugation. This technique dramatically improved the ability to purify proteins, nucleic acids, and viruses and to separate cellular particles such as mitochondria and nuclei--leading to the development of modern virology and molecular biology.

Density gradient centrifugation is now routinely used in every biochemistry, molecular biology, cell biology, and virology laboratory in the world and has contributed substantially to our current understanding of gene expression and the synthesis and structure of proteins and nucleic acids.

Brakke is also world-renowned for his work on the characterization of plant viruses, including demonstrating that soil-borne wheat mosaic virus is transmitted by a fungus.

He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and a Fellow of the American Phytopathological Society. He won the USDA Superior Service Award twice, received an Outstanding Achievement Award from the University of Minnesota, and was inducted into the Agricultural Hall of Fame in 1987.