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Ohio State Alum Lauded for Helping Launch Biotech Industry, Genomics Revolution

Thomas Brock Will Receive Golden Goose Award at Sept. 19 Event in Washington, D.C.

COLUMBUS, Ohio—For his discovery of a bacterium that enabled the first DNA fingerprinting, microbiologist and Ohio State University alumnus Thomas Brock has been honored with the Golden Goose Award.

The award honors scientists “whose federally funded research may not have seemed to have significant practical applications at the time it was conducted, but has resulted in tremendous societal and economic benefit,” according to the award program’s founders.

With funding from the National Science Foundation, Brock and his then-undergraduate research assistant Hudson Freeze ventured to a colorful hot spring in Yellowstone National Park in 1967, where they discovered a hearty species of bacteria that could thrive in water hot enough to kill other forms of life. They named the species Thermus aquaticus, and studied the enzymes it produced.

Those enzymes turned out to be durable enough to survive other scientists’ use of the high heat required to copy and study the bacterium’s DNA—the first effort in research that would launch the biotech industry, genomics and countless medical advances since.

Brock entered Ohio State in 1946, and subsequently earned bachelor’s, master’s and Ph.D. degrees in botany. He graduated in 1952.

The award was founded by a partnership of universities, think tanks and businesses in 2012, and is supported by a bipartisan group of members of Congress, all of whom “believe that federally funded basic scientific research is the cornerstone of American innovation and essential to our economic growth, health, global competitiveness and national security.” More information can be found at http://www.goldengooseaward.org.

The newly announced awardees, or their designees, will receive their awards at the second annual Golden Goose Awards ceremony in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 19.


Written by Pam Frost Gorder, (614) 292-9475; Gorder.1@osu.edu