RNA & Khorana

and Khorana have more in common than the three letters R-N-A would have us believe. In fact, Indian-American biochemist Har Gobind Khorana shared the
1968 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine with Marshall W. Nirenberg and Robert W, Holley. Khorana himself was the first scientist to chemically synthesize oligonucleotides, or short DNA or RNA molecules.

Khorana was born January 9, 1922 in Raipur (in then British India, now in Pakistan) and later moved to become an Indian citizen after the sub-continent’s partition of 1947. He became a naturalized citizen of the United States in 1966, and subsequently received the National Medal of Science. He served as MIT’s Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Biology and Chemistry, Emeritus and was a member of the Board of Scientific Governors at The Scripps Research Institute.

Nowadays, one can order a synthetic oligonucleotide from any one of a number of companies based on ones genetic sequence, a succession of letters that indicate the order of nucleotides (or organic molecules) within a DNA or RNA molecule.

UW-India Partnership
The University of Wisconsin – Madison (UW),
in close partnership with the Government of India and the bilateral Indo-US Science and Technology Forum (IUSSTF), initiated a scholar exchange program in 2008. This prestigious research internship program was named after Khorana,  who epitomized the importance of transcending scientific, cultural and geographic boundaries.

Future “Khoranas”

Khorana with his Program Scholars 2008

A key goal of the program is to ignite the imagination of talented students from the US and India. Selected students are invited for summer internships in leading laboratories. US students work in some of the best labs in India, and Indian students who are selected from a nation-wide search work in top labs at UW and its 10 US partner universities. The participating labs in both countries are world leaders with reputations for nurturing talent.

Khorana died of natural causes on 9 November 2011 in Concord, Massachusetts, aged 89. A widower since 2001, he was survived by his children Julia and Davel.

Alma Mater: 
Government College, Lahore; University of Liverpool, UK
Awards: Nobel Prize for Medicine; Gairdner Foundation;

  • Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize
  • ForMemRS (1978)[4]
  • Albert Lasker Award for Basic Medical Research
  • Padma Vibhushan
  • Willard Gibbs Awar

Advanced Studies:

  • MIT (1970–2007)
  • University of Wisconsin, Madison (1960–70)
  • University of British Columbia (1952–60)
  • University of Cambridge (1950–52)
  • Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich (1948–49)

Biochemistry Newsletter, UW, WI; Wikipedia

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