Monday, November 14, 2011

Har Gobind Khorana Passes Away

Har Gobind Khorana, 89, the Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Biology & Chemistry emeritus at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, died of natural causes in Concord, Mass., on Nov. 9.

Khorana, who won the 1968 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, made seminal contributions to the field of genetics through research on the genetic code and the mechanisms by which nucleic acids control the formation of proteins in cells.

“He revolutionized biotechnology with his pioneering work in DNA chemistry,” says Aseem Ansari, professor of biochemistry at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. “Khorana was an early practitioner, and perhaps a founding father, of the field of chemical biology, because he brought the power of chemical synthesis to bear on a fundamental question of the nature of the genetic code.”

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.

Dr. Khorana was born in 1922 to a Hindu tax clerk in Raipur village in the Punjab region, which is now part of Pakistan.

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

1 comment:

OverTheHill said...

Here's a little known fact: long before Kary Mullis invented DNA amplification using PCR (polymerase chain reaction), Khorana discovered PCR in his lab.