The most significant pupil and assistent of Felix Hoppe-Seyler is the Basel-born Friedrich Miescher. In 1869, he achieved the groundbreaking discovery of a substance which he named “Nucleic” – today known as the nucleic acid DNA and RNA, the carriers of the genetic information. Miescher was only 24 years old at the time of his discovery and had only finished his study of medicine in Basel the previous year.
Miescher’s uncle, the medicine professor Wilhelm His, awakened his interest for the chemistry of the cell at this time and thus for the new discipline of the physiological chemistry. In order to teach himself in the laboratory work, Miescher went to Tübingen in the spring of 1868. At first he learned the most important work techniques for organic chemistry from the well-known chemist Adolph Strecker. From autumn onwards he then worked in Hoppe-Seyler’s biochemical castle laboratory.
After the discovery of nucleic acid, with which Miescher would go down in scientific history, he deepened his physiological education with Carl Ludwig in Leipzig. In 1871 he habilitated as private lecturer at the University of Basel and already became the successor of his uncle as professor for physiology the following year. Although he took up the research of nucleic in Basel again, he suffered from the lack of an own biochemical laboratory.