Animal Genetics Department, Edinburgh

Administrative / Biographical History

In 1938, when Pontecorvo was dismissed from the Department of Agriculture for Tuscany due to Nazi inspired racial laws, Alick Buchanan-Smith helped him secure a scholarship in Edinburgh. Pontecorvo's intention was to stay for a year then continue on to Peru to take up an animal breeding Government contract. But the contract was cancelled when war broke out and Pontecorvo was stranded in Scotland. It was while working at Edinburgh University that he met, and was inspired by the geneticist Hermann Jospeh Muller, and became interested in his ideas on the nature of the gene. He gave up animal breeding work and embarked on a PhD supervised by Muller. Pontecorvo returned to the Department in 1944 to lecture before he became a Lecturer in Genetics at the University of Glasgow in 1945.