Sidney Altman, who found a breakthrough in genetics, dies at 82


Sidney Altman was born on May 7, 1939 in Montreal, the second son of Victor and Ray (Arlin) Altman. His mother was a textile worker; His father ran a grocery store.

The family had little money, but Dr. In an autobiographical sketch for the Nobel Institute, Altman credits his parents for setting a good example that will stay with him for the rest of his life. “I learned from them,” he wrote, “that in a stable environment, hard work can bring rewards, even if only in infinitesimal increments.”

Dr. Altman had been fascinated with science as a child—first the news of the first atomic bomb detonation at the age of 6, and then seeing the periodic table of the elements gave it meaning, he wrote. “The elegance and predictive power of scientific theory”.

He had planned to enroll at McGill University in his hometown, but changed course when he was accepted by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He studied physics at MIT, but took an introductory molecular biology course in his final semester out of curiosity and found it challenging.

After MIT he spent 18 months in a graduate physics program at Columbia University, but he said he wasn’t really happy there. He wanted to be an experimental scientist and there were no opportunities at Columbia, so he resigned and moved back to Canada.

The following summer, he was offered a job writing about science for an institute in Boulder, where he could also take summer courses.

Talking at a party one night George Gamow, a well-known physicist, cosmologist and author. Dr. Altman explained that he was dissatisfied with physics, but was fascinated by biophysics. Dr. Gamow suggested she attend the University of Colorado at Denver, which has a good biophysics major.



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