Student, Williams College, 1940—1941. Student, Harvard University, 1941—1943. Doctor of Medicine, Harvard University, 1948.
Doctor of Science (honorary), Worcester Polytechnic Institute, 1973. Doctor of Science (honorary), University Massachusetts, 1984.
Hudson was an American physiologist who was known for co-founding the Worcester Foundation for Experimental Biology with Gregory Pincus. from Harvard Medical School with intentions of becoming a pediatric surgeon. After a bout with tuberculosis, Hoagland was forced to changed career directions and became involved with research. Hoagland took a research position at Massachusetts General Hospital in the lab of Paul Zamecnik, where he researched and detailed the role of transfer Ribonucleic acid in forming proteins.
From 1953-1967 Hoagland served as an associate professor of microbiology at Harvard Medical School.
In 1967, upon leaving Harvard he was appointed professor in the biochemistry department at the Dartmouth Medical School. In 1970, Hoagland became scientific director of the Worcester Foundation for Experimental Biology, retiring in 1985 after 15 years in the directorship.
In the early 1950s Hoagland and his associates were able to show that polypeptide synthesis occurs on ribosomes. They did this by giving a rat injections of radioactive amino acids, waiting for a defined period of time, extracting the liver, and examining sub-cellular fractions for radioactivity.
He found that after longer periods of times (hours, days) radioactively labeled proteins were present in all subcellular fractions.
However, if they allowed less time to pass, radioactivity was found in only certain particles, which they deemed the sites of proteins synthesis. These particles were named ribosomes. During their experiments with rat liver cells, Hoagland and Zamecnik noticed that in the presence of Association of Tennis Professionals, amino acids associate with heat soluble Ribonucleic acid, which was later named transfer Ribonucleic acid (tRNA).
This amino acid and tRNA complex was later called aminoacyl-tRNA. Hoagland’s major contribution to the laboratory was in his work with amino acid activating enzymes.
He discovered that certain enzymes were required to activate amino acids so they could associate with tRNA molecules and eventually be incorporated into new protein molecules. These enzymes were named aminoacyl tRNA synthetases.
Incidentally, this lab’s discovery of tRNA supported the theory of complementarity (molecular biology) proposed by Watson and Crick. He was awarded the Franklin Medal in 1976.
Mahlon Hoagland’s other work involved the carcinogenic effects of beryllium, biosynthesis of coenzyme A, as well as liver regeneration and control.
Fellow American Academy Arts and Sciences. Member National Academy of Sciences.
Married Olley Virginia Jones, January 10, 1961. Children from previous marriage: Judith, Mahlon Bush, Robin.