In 1950 she received her bachelor"s degree from the College of Wooster and in 1964 her Doctor of Philosophy from the University of Southern California.
She was greatly respected as a geneticist. In 1952 Chase was a young laboratory assistant to American bacteriophage expert Alfred Hershey at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory from the Carnegie Institution of Washington. This was where the well-known Hershey–Chase experiment was performed.
The experiment helped to confirm that it was deoxyribonucleic acid, and not protein, that was the genetic material through which traits were inherited.
This result was contrary to prevailing scientific opinion at the time. In 1953 Chase moved to a post at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee, and she later also worked at the University of Rochester.
During the 1950s she returned to Cold Spring Harbor to take part in meetings of the Phage Group of biologists. A series of personal setbacks through the 1960s ended Chase"s career in science.
She spent decades suffering from a form of dementia that robbed her of short-term memory.
She died of pneumonia on August 8, 2003, at the age of 75. Hershey, A. Doctorate. and Martha Chase. "Independent Functions of Viral Protein and Nucleic Acid in Growth of Bacteriophage." J. General
Physiological, 36 (1): 39-56.
September 20, 1952.