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H. Gobind Khorana

H. Gobind KhoranaAKA Har Gobind Khorana

Born: 9-Jan-1922
Birthplace: Raipur, Punjab, British India
Died: 9-Nov-2011
Location of death: Concord, MA
Cause of death: unspecified

Gender: Male
Religion: Hindu
Race or Ethnicity: Asian/Indian
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Scientist

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: RNA's role in protein synthesis

Har Gobind Khorana was born in a poor village in British India. Raised in one of the town's few families that could read and write, he was home-educated until high school. He studied at Punjab University and earned his PhD under Nobel laureate Alexander R. Todd in England, but when he returned to his native land he was unable to find academic work in Punjab's crony-filled colleges. Khorana instead sought a career in Canada and finally the United States.

For demonstrating how the nucleotides in nucleic acids control the cell's synthesis of proteins, Khorana was awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1968, sharing the honor with Robert W. Holley and Marshall W. Nirenberg. Khorana was also the first to synthesize strings of nucleotides, called oligonucleotides; the first to isolate deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) ligase (the enzyme that connects pieces of DNA); and the first to synthesize an artificial yeast gene. He devised an improved method for synthesizing acetyl coenzyme A, and ascertained the sequence of DNA nucleotide triplets. Khorana became a U.S. citizen in 1966. His wife was Swiss, and their children, of course, are thoroughbred Americans.

Father: (British Indian tax clerk)
Wife: Esther Elizabeth Sibler
Daughter: Julia Elizabeth (b. 4-May-1953)
Daughter: Emily Anne (b. 18-Oct-1954)
Son: David Roy (b. 26-Jul-1958)

    High School: Dayanand Anglo-Vedic High School, Multan, Pakistan (1939)
    University: BS, Punjab University (1943)
    University: MS, Punjab University (1945)
    University: PhD, University of Liverpool (1948)
    Scholar: Chemistry, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich (1948-49)
    Scholar: Chemistry, Cambridge University (1950-52)
    Scholar: Chemistry, University of British Columbia (1952-60)
    Scholar: Enzyme Research, University of Wisconsin at Madison (1960-70)
    Professor: Biology and Chemistry, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1970-2007)

    Lasker Award 1967
    Nobel Prize for Medicine 1968 (with Robert W. Holley and Marshall W. Nirenberg)
    National Medal of Science 1987
    Federation of American Scientists Board of Sponsors
    Pontifical Academy of Sciences
    Naturalized US Citizen 1966

Official Website:

Author of books:
Some Recent Developments in the Chemistry of Phosphate Esters of Biological Interest (1961)

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