Salvador Luria was born in Torino, Italy, on 13th August, 1912. He studied medicine at the University of Torino where he became a specialist in radiology.
Luria disapproved of the fascist rule of Benito Mussolini and in 1936 he went to live in France and became research fellow at the Institute of Radium in Paris.
When the German Army invaded France in 1940 Luria emigrated to the United States. He worked as a research assistant in Surgical Bacteriology at Columbia University before becoming assistant professor of microbiology at Indiana University.
Luria was a pioneer in molecular biology and became the world's leading expert in the genetic structure of viruses. He was a pacifist and was a strong advocate of keeping science humanistic. This included providing his students with a course in world literature.
In 1959 he became a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and in 1969 won the Nobel Prize for Medicine. In 1972 he founded the MIT Center for Cancer Research and was its director for the next thirteen years. Salvador Luria died in Lexington, Massachusetts, on 6th February, 1991.