Khorana, Har Gobind

Khorana, Har Gobind,

1922–2011, American biochemist, b. Raipur (now in Pakistan), Ph.D. Univ. of Liverpool, 1948. He became a U.S. citizen in 1966, and was a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology from 1970 to 2007. Khorana, Marshall W. NirenbergNirenberg, Marshall Warren,
1927–2010, American biochemist, b. Brooklyn, N.Y., Ph.D., Univ. of Michigan, 1947. He spent his entire career as a researcher at the National Institutes of Health.
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, and Robert W. HolleyHolley, Robert William,
1922–93, American biochemist, b. Urbana, Ill., Ph.D. Cornell, 1947. He was a professor at Cornell (1948–68) before he joined (1968) the Salk Institute, and he continued an association with Cornell after 1968.
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 were awarded the 1968 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine for their discoveries concerning the genetic code and its function in protein synthesis. Khorana confirmed Nirenberg's finding that the arrangement of the four types of nucleotidesnucleotide
, organic substance that serves as a monomer in forming nucleic acids. Nucleotides consist of either a purine or a pyrimidine base, a ribose or deoxyribose, and a phosphate group. Adenosine triphosphate serves as the principle energy carrier for the cell's reactions.
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 on the DNA molecule (see nucleic acidnucleic acid,
any of a group of organic substances found in the chromosomes of living cells and viruses that play a central role in the storage and replication of hereditary information and in the expression of this information through protein synthesis.
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) determines the chemical composition and function of new cells; he then built on this finding and determined the nucleotide combinations that form specific amino acids. Khorana was also the first scientist to synthesize strings of nucleotides.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Khorana, Har Gobind


Born Jan 9, 1922, in Raipur, India. American biochemist of Indian descent. Member of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA (1966). Foreign member of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR (1971).

Khorana received a degree from Punjab University in 1945 and one from the University of Liverpool in 1948. He worked at the Federal Polytechnical School in Zurich from 1948 to 1950 and at Cambridge University in Great Britain from 1950 to 1952. He was head of the laboratory of organic chemistry at the University of British Columbia in Canada from 1952 to 1960. In 1960 he became one of the directors of the Institute of Enzyme Research at the University of Wisconsin in Madison (USA) and a professor at that university in 1962. Since 1970 he has worked at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Khorana’s principal works are on the synthesis of nucleotides, coenzymes, and nucleic acids. He has made a great contribution toward interpreting the genetic code; he has synthesized the simplest genes and a 72-member polynucleotide with a succession of mononucleotides that corresponds to alanine transfer RNA. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1968 with R. Holley and M. Nirenberg.


Some Recent Developments in the Chemistry of Phosphate Esters of Biological Interest. New York-London, 1961.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

Khorana, Har Gobind

(1922–  ) molecular biologist; born in Raipur, India (now Pakistan). He was a research fellow at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (1948–49) and Cambridge University (1950–52) before moving to the University of British Columbia (Vancouver) (1952–59). There he received international recognition for improving the method of synthesis of acetyl coenzyme A, necessary for cellular metabolism. At the University of Wisconsin (1960–70), he determined the sequence of DNA nucleotide triplets which code for 20 amino acids. This research won Khorana (with molecular biologists Robert Holley and Marshall Nirenberg) the 1968 Nobel Prize in physiology. In 1970 he synthesized the first artificial gene; he then relocated to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1970), where he continued to make major contributions to molecular biology.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.
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