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Johann Friedrich Miescher. Portrait of the Swiss biochemist Johann Friedrich Miescher (1844-1895), the discoverer of DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid). Miescher studied medicine at the University of Basel in Switzerland before taking organic chemistry at Tubingen and physiology at Leipzig, both in Germany. While working on pus cells he discovered an unidentified non-protein part to these cells that was derived only from the cell nucleus and contained phosphorous, not commonly found in cells. He called this substance nuclein. The most famous form of nuclein, renamed nucleic acid by Richard Altmann in 1889, is DNA. Miescher became professor of physiology at Basel in 1871.
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