Marshall W Nirenberg

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Nirenberg, Marshall W. (Warren)

(1927–  ) biochemist; born in New York City. He taught while a student at the University of Florida (1945–52), then joined the National Institutes of Health (1957). Beginning in 1960, knowing that the genetic code consists of 64 nucleotide base "triplets" that code for 20 amino acids, Nirenberg synthesized successions of nucleic acids with a known base sequence, then determined which amino acid each triplet represented. For his pioneering work in deciphering the genetic code, he was awarded one-third the 1968 Nobel Prize in physiology. After this research, he concentrated on studies of cellular control, neuromuscular differentiation, and genetic evolution.