Frank Ruddle United States

Biography of Frank Ruddle

Frank Ruddle
Frank Ruddle

Francis Hugh Ruddle (1929-2013), a pioneer in science, human gene mapping, and transgenic technology carried out postdoctoral work at the University of Glasgow with Dr John Paul and Professor Guido Pontecorvo from 1960-1961.

Born in New Jersey, Frank Ruddle dropped out of high school to join the US Air Force where he served with distinction from 1946-47. He then completed his undergraduate education at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan, in 1953 and two years later received a master’s degree in science from the same institution. In 1960, Dr Ruddle earned his doctorate in biology from the University of California at Berkeley, where he studied chromosome patterns in established cell cultures.

Immediately after graduate school Ruddle came to the University of Glasgow to pursue his interests in somatic recombination. As a postdoctoral associate, he worked with John Paul and Guido Pontecorvo , leaders in modern genetics at the time. Pontecorvo’s work on fungal parasexuality, demonstrating that genes could be mapped in somatic cells, was important in Ruddle’s somatic cell genetics.

In 1961 he joined the Yale Zoology Department where he was an active member until his retirement in 2007. At Yale, Professor Ruddle served as Chairman of the Biology Department several times, held endowed Chairs as the Ross G. Harrison Professor and as the Sterling Professor of Biology, and supported the initiation of the Human Genetics Department at Yale Medical School. He was noted for his seminal studies on human gene mapping, his development of the transgenic mouse, and his work on homeobox genes, important regulators of development.

His outstanding achievements were recognized by his election to the National Academy of Sciences (1976), the Institute of Medicine (1985), and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (1977). He was the recipient of many prizes and awards including the William Allan Award of the American Society of Human Genetics (1983), and the 2000 Connecticut Innovations Special Achievement Award.

Professor Ruddle was a leader in the scientific community serving as a member of numerous NIH review boards, President of the American Society for Cell Biology, and editor of several scientific journals, including the Journal of Experimental Zoology and Genomics.

Frank Ruddle made many contributions to the field including over 900 publications over his career. He also coined the term “transgenic” with postdoctoral fellow Jon Gordon. Moreover, he recognised that building a comprehensive and integrated map of the human genome would involve the collaboration of different scientific disciplines. In 1974 he organised the first Human Gene Mapping Workshop and such workshops became an important part of the Human Genome Project. He also recognised the value of information technologies in the field and developed the first database, storing much human gene mapping data and this repository eventually became an important public resource.

Frank Ruddle died on the 10th March 2013 aged 83. His work led to the production of transgenic animals, allowing scientists to study the function of genes in living organisms. He was an active player in a biotechnology revolution that persists today.


Frank Ruddle
Born 19 August 1929.
Died 10 March 2013.
GU Degree:
University Link: Researcher
Occupation categories: geneticists
Record last updated: 8th Aug 2013

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  • Researcher