The evolution of molecular genetics

In 1949, Nova Scotian geneticist Howard Borden Newcombe demonstrated the existence of spontaneous mutation in E. coli bacteria, a study that did away with the old belief that physical changes in an organism during its lifetime could be transmitted to its offspring. This paved the way for present-day advances in the understanding of molecular genetics. Newcombe was working at Ontario’s Chalk River Laboratory of Atomic Energy of Canada at the time, studying radiation-induced mutations and other effects in a number of organisms. He went on to conduct analytical studies in demographic genetics using vital statistics and health records, and pioneer computer-assisted record linkage techniques in epidemiology. This became the basis of modern electronic health records.  Newcombe was the founder of the Genetics Society of Canada and served as its president in 1965. 


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