Sager, Ruth


Ruth Sager pioneered two fields of genetics, challenging orthodoxy and in so doing opening up new fields for investigation. Beginning in the 1950s, at a time in which geneticists generally maintained that all genes were located in the chromosome of the cell nucleus, Ruth Sager showed that chloroplasts possessed their own genome, and worked out the standard methods for studying chloroplast genes, and their interactions with nuclear genes. Then in the 1970s Sager turned her skills to studying cancer genetics; when attention was focused on the recent discovery of cancer‐causing ‘oncogenes’, Sager took a wholly different approach: she hypothesised the existence of tumour‐suppressor genes, provided evidence for their existence, and demonstrated that such genes were inactivated in tumours.

Keywords: cancer; cytoplasmic inheritance; organelle heredity; tumour‐suppressor genes; oncogenes

Further Reading

Pardee A (2001) Ruth Sager. Biographical Memoirs of the National Academy of Sciences 80: 276–289.

Reynolds MD (1999) American Women Scientists – 23 Inspiring Biographies 1900‐2000. Jefferson, NC: McFarland and Co., pp. 119–122.

Sager R (1972) Cytoplasmic Genes and Organelles. New York: Academic Press.

Sager R and Francis R (1961) Cell Biology. New York: John Wiley and Sons.

Sapp J (1987) Beyond the Gene. New York: Oxford University Press.

Sapp J (1990) Where the Truth Lies. Franz Moewus and the Origins of Molecular Biology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

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Sapp, Jan(Apr 2012) Sager, Ruth. In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester. [doi: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0023941]