Walter Gilbert

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Gilbert, Walter,

1932–, American molecular biologist, b. Boston, Ph.D. Cambridge, 1957. In 1968 he became a professor of biophysics at Harvard, where he had taught since 1959. He helped formulate a method for determining the sequence of bases in nucleic acids (RNA and DNA) that made it possible to manufacture genetic material in the laboratory. For his role in this work, he shared the 1980 Nobel Prize in Chemistry with Frederick SangerSanger, Frederick
, 1918–2013, British biochemist, grad. Cambridge (B.A., 1939; Ph.D., 1943). He continued his research at Cambridge after 1943. He won the 1958 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his studies on insulin, accomplishing the first determination of the amino acid
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 and Paul BergBerg, Paul,
1926–, American biologist, b. New York City, Ph.D. Western Reserve Univ., 1952. A professor at Washington Univ. at St. Louis and Stanford Univ., he shared the 1980 Nobel Prize in Physics (with Walter Gilbert and Frederick Sanger) for his work with recombinant
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Gilbert, Walter

(1932–  ) molecular biologist; born in Boston, Mass. He earned degrees in physics at Harvard and mathematics at Cambridge University, England. In his long career at Harvard (1959), he taught successively physics, biophysics, biochemistry, and molecular biology, and was named Carl M. Loeb university professor (1987). He identified the entire sequence of nucleotides in the DNA of a digestive protein produced by the E. coli bacterium (1977); the technique he developed (with Allan Maxam) for rapidly sequencing genes earned him a share of the Nobel Prize in chemistry (1980) and was critical in launching the new field of genetic engineering. In the 1980s he contributed to efforts to identify the basic components of proteins. He founded Biogen, a genetic engineering firm (1978; CEO 1981–84) and was a major force in launching the Human Genome Project in the late 1980s, designed to map all the genes on human chromosomes.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.