H Gobind Khorana Nobel Prize winner passes away

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  1. LETHALFORCE

    LETHALFORCE Moderator Moderator

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    H Gobind Khorana - Telegraph

    Har Gobind Khorana, who has died aged 89, won a share of the 1968 Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine (jointly with Robert Holley and Marshall Nirenberg) for work which showed how proteins are made; he subsequently became the first scientist to synthesise a gene in the laboratory.

    In 1953 James Watson and Francis Crick had elucidated the double helix structure of DNA, but they did not know how DNA's instructions (for the building of proteins that shape every aspect of our bodies) were implemented. Then, in the late 1950s, Holley showed that small molecules of Ribonucleic acids (RNA, a chemical in cells) called transfer RNAs, perform the role of a "messengers", carrying coding information to the sites where amino acids are synthesised into proteins.

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    Whereas the basic building blocks of DNA are the nucleotides (chemicals) adenosine (A), cytosine (C), guanine (G), and thymine (T) – in RNA, uracil (U) is substituted for thiamine. Working independently in the early 1960s, Nirenberg and Khorana established that these chemicals combine to form three-letter "words" that represent amino acids, the components from which proteins are made. Using chemical synthesis Khorana established that the genetic code of RNA consisted of 64 distinct three-letter words and also proved that the "words" are always transmitted to the cell in groups of three, called codons, some of which start or stop the manufacture of the proteins.

    Four years after winning the Nobel Prize, Khorana succeeded in synthesising the first wholly artificial gene – a copy of the yeast gene – using laboratory chemicals. Four years later, he announced that he had succeeded in getting an artificial gene (of the bacterium e coli) to function in a living cell. Later, in the 1980s, he synthesised the gene for rhodopsin, a protein involved in vision. The technology which Khorana pioneered has been central to advances in genetic engineering and the development of the biotechnology industry.

    Har Gobind Khorana was born to Hindu parents in the village of Raipur in the Punjab region, which is now part of Pakistan. He was uncertain of the exact date, but thought it was probably January 9 1922. His father was a "patwari" – a taxation clerk for the British colonial authorities – and Har Gobind Khorana described the family as "practically the only literate family in the village inhabited by 100 people."

    After early schooling from his village teacher under a tree he showed an aptitude for science and won a scholarship to study Chemistry at Punjab University, even though he had been too nervous to attend the admission interview. After the Second World War he travelled to England to take a doctorate in Organic Chemistry at Liverpool University, then, after a year's postdoctoral research at the Federal Institute of Technology in Switzerland, he was given a research fellowship at Cambridge University, where he was soon drawn into the emerging field of genetics.

    In 1952 he was recruited to the British Columbia Research Council in Vancouver to join a group working on nucleic acids. There he developed a new method of synthesising nucleotides, and succeeded in synthesising coenzyme A, a substance involved in converting fats to energy.

    In 1960 Khorana moved to the Institute for Enzyme Research at the University of Wisconsin, where he did the work that led to his Nobel Prize. He became an American citizen in 1966. In 1970 he joined the department of Biology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he became Alfred P Sloan Professor of Biology and Chemistry. He retired in 2007.

    As well as the Nobel, Khorana won the Lasker Award for basic medical research in 1968 and the American National Medal of Science in 1987.

    He married, in 1952, Esther Sibler, whom he had met during his year in Switzerland. She and a daughter predeceased him. He is survived by their son and by another daughter.
     
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  3. mayfair

    mayfair Elite Member Elite Member

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    A legend in the filed of molecular biology.

    RIP
     
  4. LETHALFORCE

    LETHALFORCE Moderator Moderator

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    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/14/us/h-gobind-khorana-1968-nobel-winner-for-rna-research-dies.html

    H. Gobind Khorana, 89, Nobel-Winning Scientist, Dies

    H. Gobind Khorana, who rose from a childhood of poverty in India to become a biochemist and share in a Nobel Prize for his role in deciphering the genetic code, died on Wednesday in Concord, Mass. He was 89.

    His death was announced by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where Dr. Khorana was a professor emeritus.

    Dr. Khorana, who received his early schooling from his village teacher under a tree, advanced his education through scholarships and fellowships to become an authority on the chemical synthesis of proteins and nucleic acids, the large molecules in cells that carry genetic information.

    He received the 1968 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with Robert W. Holley of Cornell University and Marshall W. Nirenberg of the National Institutes of Health. They worked independently of one another and received the award for showing how genetic information is translated into proteins, which carry out the functions of a living cell.

    Their experiments looked at the nucleic acids found in RNA, a chemical in cells that translates the genetic information contained in DNA. RNA is composed of four chemical bases, adenine, cytosine, uracil and guanine, which are represented by the letters A, C, U and G. The three scientists showed that these chemical bases combine to form three-letter “words” that represent amino acids, the components from which proteins are constructed. Dr. Nirenberg discovered the first word, UUU, the code for phenylalanine.

    Dr. Khorana used chemical synthesis to combine the letters into specific defined patterns, like UCUCUCUCU, from which he deduced that UCU encoded for serine and CUC encoded for leucine. His work unambiguously confirmed that the genetic code consisted of 64 distinct three-letter words. He and Dr. Nirenberg discovered that some of the words told a cell where to begin reading the code, and where to stop.

    In 1972, Dr. Khorana reported a second breakthrough: the construction of the first artificial gene, using off-the-shelf chemicals. Four years later, he announced that he had gotten an artificial gene to function in a bacterial cell. The ability to synthesize DNA was central to advances in genetic engineering and the development of the biotechnology industry. “He left an amazing trail of technical achievement,” said Dr. Thomas P. Sakmar, a professor at Rockefeller University and a former student.

    Dr. Khorana’s lab also turned out leaders in academia and industry. One former student was involved in the creation of Applied Biosystems, which developed equipment used to decode the human genome. Another student, Michael Smith, was a recipient of the 1993 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for devising a method of manipulating DNA.

    Har Gobind Khorana was born in the village of Raipur in the Punjab region, which is now part of Pakistan. Not certain of the date, he said he was probably born on Jan. 9, 1922. He was the youngest of five children of a Hindu tax clerk for the British colonial government, who was dedicated to educating his children. His family was “practically the only literate family in the village inhabited by 100 people,” Dr. Khorana wrote.

    His aptitude for science was evident from the start. He received a scholarship to study chemistry at Punjab University, although he had been too shy to attend the required admissions interview. He received his bachelor’s degree from Punjab University in 1943 and his master’s from there in 1945.

    After earning a doctorate in organic chemistry from Liverpool University in England in 1948, he spent a year doing postdoctoral research at the Federal Institute of Technology in Switzerland, where he secretly took up residence in a laboratory until some financing came through.

    He received a research fellowship at Cambridge University, a center for the study of proteins and nucleic acids, where James D. Watson and Francis H. C. Crick would discover the double-helix structure of DNA in 1953. Dr. Khorana was drawn to the field.

    In 1952, he was recruited to the British Columbia Research Council in Vancouver to join a group working on nucleic acids. He developed a new method of synthesizing nucleotides, and achieved international recognition for synthesizing coenzyme A, which is involved in converting fats to energy.

    His move to Canada coincided with his marriage to Esther Elizabeth Sibler, whom he had met in Switzerland. “Esther brought a consistent sense of purpose into my life at a time when, after six years’ absence from the country of my birth, I felt out of place everywhere and at home nowhere,” he wrote.

    His wife died in 2001. Their daughter Emily Anne died in 1979. His survivors include another daughter, Julia Elizabeth, and a son, Dave Roy.

    In 1960, Dr. Khorana moved to the Institute for Enzyme Research at the University of Wisconsin, where he did the work that led to his Nobel Prize. His lab included researchers from 27 countries with expertise in basic chemistry, molecular biology, enzymology and biochemistry, a multidisciplinary effort unusual for its time.

    Dr. Khorana became an American citizen in 1966. He joined the M.I.T. faculty in 1970 and retired in 2007.

    Among the honors Dr. Khorana received were the Lasker Award for basic medical research in 1968 and the National Medal of Science in 1987.

    Dr. Khorana, an unassuming man, shied from the spotlight and did not like talking on the phone. In the weeks before he received the National Medal of Science, a stack of message slips piled up on his desk with increasingly urgent messages that the White House had called and that he should call back, Dr. Sakmar said. With the ceremony date fast approaching, a representative of the White House tracked down Dr. Khorana at a scientific meeting and told him he would be receiving the award. Dr. Khorana assured him he would attend.
     
  5. hit&run

    hit&run Elite Member Elite Member

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    My condolences to this great man who made all of us Indians proud.

    May his soul rest in peace.
     
  6. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    May this Great Soul Rest in Peace.
     
  7. LETHALFORCE

    LETHALFORCE Moderator Moderator

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    http://www.biotechlive.com/?p=1339

    RNA pioneer H. Gobind Khorana dies, aged 89

    Har Gobind Khorana, a biochemist who rose from humble origins in rural India to win the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine in 1968, died on 9 November aged 89. He won the prize while working at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, for working out how RNA codes for the synthesis of proteins

    Khorana was born in Raipur, a small village in the Punjab region of India, around 9 January 1922 (he was never sure of the date). His Hindu father was an agriculture taxation clerk for the British colonial government, dedicated to educating his five children. “We were practically the only literate family in the village inhabited by about 100 people,” Khorana wrote.
     

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