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Google on Tuesday celebrated the 96th birth anniversary of Indian-American Nobel Prize-winning biochemist Har Gobind Khorana, with a doodle. Dr. Khorana was known for his extensive research on DNA and also for constructing the first synthetic gene.
Dr. Khorana and two other scientists – Robert W. Holley and Marshall W. Nirenberg – were awarded The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1968 for “their interpretation of the genetic code and its function in protein synthesis”.
Born in 1922 in the village of Raipur, Punjab, in what is now in Pakistan, Dr. Khorana’s love for science began at an early age and that was thanks to his father who believed in the value of education. Dr. Khorana obtained a degree in Punjab University in Lahore and lived in British India till 1945. He then moved to England for his Ph.D programme at the University of Liverpool.
In 1952, he moved to Vancouver in Canada where he began his research on DNA, at the University of British Columbia. In 1960, Dr. Khorana shifted to the Institute for Enzyme Research at the University of Wisconsin.
The Nobel Prize was given for the scientists’ discovery that the order of nucleotides in our DNA determines which amino acids are built. These amino acids form proteins. In the 1950s, it was established that genetic information is transferred from DNA to Ribonucleic acid (RNA), to protein. One sequence of three nucleotides in DNA corresponds to a certain amino acid within a protein. Dr. Khorana’s work on this field was centred around building different RNA chains with the help of enzymes. Using these enzymes, he was able to produce proteins.
In the early 1970s, Dr. Khorana constructed the world’s first artificial gene. Dr. Khorana was elected as Foreign Member of the Royal Society in 1978. He was also awarded the Padma Vibhushan. He died in 2011 aged 89 in Concord, Massachusetts.
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