Sci-tech

Today's Google Doodle honors a Nobel Prize-winning DNA researcher

Today's Google Doodle honors a Nobel Prize-winning DNA researcher

He passed away on January 9, 2011 in MA at the age of 89. The tiny engineered organism was a massive leap forward, helping launch the biotechnology sector and blazing a trail for scientists looking to manipulate life at its most fundamental levels, including recent work on editing genomes using the CRISPR/Cas9 system.

Khorana's work uncovered how a DNA's genetic code determines protein synthesis - which dictates how a cell functions.

Explains Encyclopedia.com, "In addition to developing methods for investigating the structure of the nucleic acids, Khorana introduced numerous techniques that allowed scientists to decipher the genetic code and show how ribonucleic acid (RNA ) can specify the structure of proteins".

Khorana was born in 1922 in Raipur, which today is in eastern Pakistan. He shared the 1968 prize with Robert W. Holley of Cornell University and Marshall W. Nirenberg of the National Institutes of Health, who each independently contributed to the groundbreaking discovery. Taught by his father to read and write, he rose up to become a Nobel Laureate and the first person to construct an artificial gene.

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When Khorana grew up and attended college in the United States, he was able to gain scholarships and obtain a doctorate in organic chemistry by 1948, when he was 26 years old.

Some might be content to stop at winning the Nobel Prize, but for Khorana that was just the beginning.

Dr. Khorana created the first synthetic gene.

While studying in Switzerland, Dr. Khorana met and married his wife, Esther Elizabeth Sible, with whom he had three children. He joined the faculty of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1970, where he would remain until his retirement in 2007. He went on to earn undergraduate and master's degrees in chemistry at Punjab University, followed by a doctorate in organic chemistry at the University of Liverpool in England. "He was survived by his children, Julia and Dave". Prior to 1945 he was unable to leave India, however an award of India Fellowship allowed him to pursue an education. Roger J.S. Beer supervised his research, and, in addition, looked after him diligently. During his tenure, working under Professor Vladimir Prelog in Zurich for one year, Khorana became an expert on chemical synthesis of nucleic acids and proteins.