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Arthur Kornberg

Arthur KornbergBorn: 3-Mar-1918
Birthplace: Brooklyn, NY
Died: 26-Oct-2007
Location of death: Stanford, CA
Cause of death: Respiratory failure

Gender: Male
Religion: Jewish
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Scientist, Doctor

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Synthesized DNA

Military service: US Coast Guard (1942), US Public Health Service (1942-53)

Biochemist Arthur Kornberg was the first scientist to identify deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) polymerase in the intestinal bacterium E coli. Establishing that this enzyme catalyzes the production of new DNA strands, Kornberg showed how a single strand of DNA forms new strands of nucleotides, and proved the double helix structure of DNA, as theorized by Francis Crick, James Watson, and Maurice Wilkins. In 1959, Kornberg was awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine, sharing the honor with Severo Ochoa.

While attending medical school, Arthur Kornberg contracted hepatitis, a disease of the liver that often triggers jaundice, where caucasian skin yellows. Based on his own experience and study of the disease, he wrote his first scientific paper, "The Occurrence of Jaundice in an Otherwise Normal Medical Student." He later investigated nutrition, enzymes and metabolism at the National Institutes of Health, and worked with fellow Nobel laureates Carl and Gerty Cori and Paul Berg. In 1966, Kornberg discovered an enzyme called ligase, which closes the ring of DNA, and subsequently crafted the first artificial viral DNA.

His first wife, Sylvy Ruth Levy Kornberg, was also a biochemist, and a frequent collaborator on her husband's research. Their son, biologist Roger D. Kornberg, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2006, for furthering research into DNA. Another son, Thomas, is a biochemist, and made important DNA discoveries in the early 1970s. Their third son, Kenneth, is an architect who specializes in designing biomedical buildings.

Father: Joseph Kornberg (hardware store worker)
Mother: Lena Katz Kornberg (b. 1939)
Wife: Sylvy Ruth Levy Kornberg (biochemist, m. 21-Nov-1943, d. 1986)
Son: Roger D. Kornberg (biologist, b. 1947)
Son: Thomas William Kornberg (physicist, b. 1948)
Son: Kenneth Andrew Kornberg (architect, b. 1950)
Wife: Charlene Walsh Levering (m. 1988, d. 1995)
Wife: Carolyn Frey Dixon (m. 1998)

    High School: Abraham Lincoln High School, Brooklyn, NY
    University: BS Biology and Chemistry, City College of New York (1937)
    Medical School: MD, University of Rochester (1941)
    Scholar: New York University (1946)
    Scholar: Columbia University (1947)
    Scholar: Washington University in St. Louis (1948)
    Professor: Microbiology, Washington University in St. Louis (1953-59)
    Professor: Biochemistry, Stanford University (1959-88)

    Nobel Prize for Medicine 1959 (with Severo Ochoa)
    National Medal of Science 1979
    Cosmos Club Award 1995
    American Association for the Advancement of Science
    American Medical Association
    American Philosophical Society
    American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology President (1965-66)
    Federation of American Scientists Board of Sponsors
    National Academy of Sciences
    Research!America Scientific Advisory Committee
    Royal Society
    Austrian Ancestry
    Polish Ancestry
    Risk Factors: Hepatitis

Author of books:
DNA Replication (1980)
Genetic Chemistry and the Future of Medicine (1988)
For the Love of Enzymes: The Odyssey of a Biochemist (1989, memoir)
The Golden Helix: Inside Biotech Ventures (1995)


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