Skip to main content

A Tribute to Biochemist Har Gobind Khorana

HarGobind Khorana, Nobel Laureate in Physiology or Medicine, 1968, passed away November 9, 2011. Khorana, a member of AAAS, was born in early 1920s in pre-independence India in a verysmall town, which is now a part of Pakistan. His rise to eminence in science was a storyof perseverance and grit.

After home-schooling until the equivalent of highschool, Khorana obtained a science degree from the Punjab University. Hecarried out his doctoral work in the University of Liverpooland subsequent fellowships led him to work on proteins and nucleic acids. Afull biography of Khorana's education and early research can be found at theNobel Prize's website.

Khoranamade many seminal contributions to biochemistry but is most widely known forproviding an understanding how the nucleotide sequence spells proteins. He wasalso the first person to synthesize oligonucleotides. More than 40 years later,the genetic code is common knowledge and synthesis of 'oligos' is a routine labprocedure.  

He is also credited as'the maker of the first artificial gene'.  His research achievements were born from a desire to pursueexcellence in everything he set out to do.  Khorana's last appointment was as the Alfred P. SloanFoundation Professor of Biology and Chemistry at MIT. Indeed, he was a chemicalbiologist, even before the term gained acceptance among scientific circles.

Evenas we go through our scientific explorations, let us today, take a moment tocelebrate the life and achievements of one of the most eminent biochemists ofour time.

This was written by AAAS MemberCentral blogger Padmini Rangamani

For more information please read MIT News