Marguerite Vogt was an American cancer biologist and virologist of German descent who is best known for her work at the “Salk Institute for Biological Studies” on polio and cancer. She worked alongside Nobel Prize-winning researcher Renato Dulbecco to examine how the polio virus multiplies in cell cultures, a finding that ultimately contributed to the creation of a polio vaccine. The researchers looked at how some viruses take over infected cells. They demonstrated how the little DNA viruses known as polyomaviruses tuck their own DNA into the DNA of the host cell. The descriptive form of virology was transformed into a more determinable one by these investigations of the pair. Additionally, Vogt and Dulbecco demonstrated how a virus can transform a cell into a malignant one. Some of the earliest indications of the genetic component of cancer were discovered as a result of their research on the disease. California Institute of Technology is where she started her investigation of the polio virus (Caltech). She then joined the “Salk Institute for Biological Studies,” where she worked for decades and was the institute’s oldest active scientist with the longest tenure at a Salk bench. Over the course of his almost eight-decade career, Vogt mentored and assisted countless scientists, graduate students, and postdoctoral associates, four of whom went on to earn the “Nobel Prize.” Vogt was a diligent scientist who worked an average of 10 hours each day, six days a week. She nevertheless remained one of the most underappreciated female scientists because she made no professional distinction or prize for her work.
Early Childhood & Life
She was the youngest daughter of Oskar Vogt and Cécile Vogt-two Mugnier’s children when she was born in Germany on February 13, 1913. Both of her parents were eminent neuroscientists who worked at the Kaiser Wilhelm/Max Planck Institute for Brain Research in Berlin. They were best recognized for conducting extensive cytoarchitectonic research on the brain. Her father was invited to Moscow in 1925 along with other neurologists to examine Lenin’s brain.
She was brought up in a highly fascinating and intense scientific environment. When she started researching fruit flies at the age of 14, she found her own commitment to science. She wrote her first academic paper about the fruit fly Drosophila when she was fourteen.
She received her M.D. from the “University of Berlin” in 1937.
When the Nazis fired her parents from the Kaiser Wilhelm/Max Planck Institute in 1937 due to political reasons, the family departed Berlin, and her father continued to serve as the institute’s director.
With the help of the wealthy industrialist family of the Krupps, her parents founded their own research center in the high Black Forest in southwest Germany, where they remained until the end of the “Second World War.” She continued her study of Drosophila development there.
She focused on two main issues with its development: the ring gland’s structure and function, as well as early homeotic mutants like the proboscopedia, which entirely transform one portion of the body into another. She authored more than thirty papers based on the two studies.
But due to the war and the fact that they were published in German, these writings remained inaccessible. A lot of these were later rediscovered. These articles are being translated by University of Kentucky professor Davy Jones.
Marthe, her older sister, went on to pursue a career as a neuropharmacologist and hold a position as a professor at the “University of Cambridge.” Marthe also earned the title of fellow in the “Royal Society.”
Marguerite Vogt’s Career
She only brought her Bechstein piano with her when she left for the US in 1950. She then joined the German-American biophysicist Max Delbrück’s team at the “California Institute of Technology” (Caltech). Delbrück and she collaborated on the E coli K12 F+ x F-crosses.
Renato Dulbecco, a young faculty member working in the biology division and trying to create a culture method for the polio virus, was introduced to her by Delbrück. This marked the start of years of scientific study collaboration between the two.
Vogt and Dulbecco worked on the techniques for cultivating the poliovirus, the infectious disease known as poliomyelitis or just polio. The pair was the first to be successful at creating a virus in vitro, also known as test tube experiments, which is conducting the study by removing the virus from its natural biological environment. In order to discover and study pure viral cultures, they also purified the virus, which was an important step in the creation of a vaccine to treat the illness.
After that, they started researching the viruses that cause cancer, starting with the polyoma virus, which mostly affects mammals and birds in nature. They successfully cultivated it and looked into its potential.
She strongly protested the “Vietnam War” while simultaneously upholding her scientific obligations.
Vogt joined the newly founded “Salk Institute for Biological Studies” in the former’s group as a research fellow after Dulbecco’s entrance there in 1963. The institute is an independent, non-profit scientific research center located in La Jolla, San Diego. They continued their investigation into the viruses that cause tumors there.
She taught several new employees who joined Dulbecco’s lab the methodologies for tissue culture and transformation.
Vogt joined the center in 1973 as a research professor, which inspired her to pursue the origins of cancer. She had her own laboratory and staff thanks to this autonomous faculty position. She looked at the process of cellular immortalization in cancer cells and the role that telomeres play in it.
She received the title of Professor of Molecular and Cell Biology in 1990. She released her final scientific publication in 1998.
She became weaker in her latter years and needed assistance from friends and coworkers to complete her obligations, which included going to the institute, after a pneumonic attack somewhere around 2000 that rendered her even more fragile.
Vogt received a sizable new office with a view of the institute’s courtyard in 2004 as a result of the department she worked in’s redevelopment.
Personal Legacy & Life
Vogt was a kind woman who helped many kids both personally and financially.
She was a very enthusiastic and active woman who frequently drove her convertible sports car to the institute. She enjoyed spending time actively exercising, playing the piano, swimming in the ocean, and running along the beach.
Vogt had a socially engaged life after learning about social democratic principles from her parents. During the holidays, she hosted gatherings and parties at her La Jolla home for her friends, associates, and their families.
She was a talented pianist who held Sunday music salons at her home when her friends would join her for a music session and lunch.
She never got married and never had kids. Sometime around 2006, she had to be sent to a La Jolla nursing home due to her deteriorating health. In La Jolla, California, she passed away on July 6, 2007, at the age of 94.
Estimated Net Worth