Matthew Meselson

Matthew Meselson, Thomas Dudley Cabot Professor of the Natural Sciences at Harvard University, teaches and conducts research in the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, and is also Faculty Chair for CBW Studies at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs.

Trained in chemistry and physics, Meselson has conducted research mainly in the field of molecular genetics. He invented an important method for analyzing the densities of giant molecules and employed it to demonstrate how DNA replicates in dividing cells. He later showed that genetic recombination, a process by which genes from each parent combine to form the genetic makeup of offspring, results from the splicing of DNA molecules. He also demonstrated the enzymatic basis of host-controlled restriction of DNA, a process by which cells recognize and destroy foreign DNA, and discovered methyl-directed mismatch repair, which enables cells to repair mistakes in DNA. At present he is studying mechanisms of molecular evolution.

Since 1963, Meselson has had an interest in chemical and biological defense and arms control and has served as a consultant on these subjects to various government agencies. He is co-director of the Harvard Sussex Program and co-editor of its quarterly journal, The CBW Conventions Bulletin.

Meselson has served on the Council of the National Academy of Sciences and the Council of the Smithsonian Institution. He is at present a member of the Editorial Board of the American Scholar, of the Committee on International Security and Arms Control of the US National Academy of Sciences, and of the Advisory Committee to the Director of the US Arms Control and Disarmament Agency.

The Harvard Sussex Program
Date of last revision: 8 February 2001 (RG)