A chemical reaction
Charlotte Auerbach (1899-1994) came to the Institute of Animal Genetics in 1933 as a Jewish refugee from Nazi Germany. Auerbach was inspired by her work with Hermann J. Muller, who had discovered that X-rays cause permanent alterations to an organism's genetic information. Working in hazardous conditions, Auerbach and pharmacologist J.M. Robson (1900-1982) demonstrated that mustard gas caused similar mutations. As this work was commissioned by the War Office, their findings had to be kept secret until after the war. Muller and Auerbach pioneered an understanding of the importance of mutation studies for early genetics. Mutations can cause abnormal biological processes such as cancer, but can also lead to beneficial evolutionary variations in species.