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Avery, Oswald Theodorelocked

(21 October 1877–20 February 1955)
  • David Y. Cooper


Avery, Oswald Theodore (21 October 1877–20 February 1955), bacteriologist, was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, the son of Joseph Francis Avery, a Baptist minister, and Elizabeth Crowdy. Avery’s family moved in 1887 to New York City, where he attended New York Male Grammar School. He received his diploma from that institution in 1893 and continued his education at the Colgate Academy. In 1896 he entered Colgate University, from which he received a B.S. in 1900. He then began the study of medicine at Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons and received an M.D. in 1904. After completing his medical studies, Avery joined the clinical practice of a group of surgeons in New York City. He related well to patients, but because clinical work did not satisfy him intellectually or emotionally, he left the practice around 1907 and worked for a time with the New York City Board of Health and then the Sheffield Dairy Company in Brooklyn as a milk bacteriologist. Later in 1907 he became a bacteriologist at the Hoagland Laboratories in Brooklyn, where director Benjamin White became so impressed with Avery that within a short time he appointed him chief of the division. Avery’s work on bacteria and their relationship to infectious disease attracted the attention of ...

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