Google Doodle Celebrates Scientist Har Gobind Khorana, Who Helped Better Understand DNA

Google Doodle celebrates Har Gobind Khorana’s 96th birthday

He was born in 1922 in a tiny village of about 100 people in what is modern Pakistan.

Today (Jan. 9), on what would have been Khorana's 96th birthday, Google's Doodle in 13 countries honors his work and life. Khorana was the youngest of five children, and his father helped all five learn to read and write, which was uncommon for villagers in Raipur, India at the time. He lived in India until 1945, when he went to England to earn a Ph.D.at the University of Liverpool. He spent post-doctorate year at a university in Zurich to work with Professor Vladimir Prelog for one year.

In 1970, he became a Professor of Biology and Chemistry at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.Dr Khorana married a Swiss national, Esther Elizabeth Sibler, who he credited with giving him "a sense of goal when he felt out of place everywhere and at home nowhere".

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His father Ganpat Rai Khorana worked as a taxation clerk in the British Indian administration. Throughout his academic journey, Khorana encountered many mentors and advisors whom he credited with shaping his fascination with proteins and nucleic acids. It was there that he made his Nobel-worthy discovery and became a naturalized American citizen. Later the Nobel laureate moved to United States and continued his research work at the University of Wisconsin. He is Indian American biochemist who won Nobel Prize in 1968 for Physiology or Medicine with Marshall W. Nirenberg and Robert W. Holey for research which showed how the order of nucleotides in nucleic acids that carries the genetic code for the cell to control the synthesis of proteins.

-But this was not his only accolade. He received a host of awards during his lifetime, including the National Medal of Science. A few years later, Khorana went on to construct the first synthetic gene. In 1970, Khorana joined the faculty at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology as the Alfred P. Sloan professor of biology and chemistry, the position he held until he died on November 9, 2011 at age 89.

His friend Uttam L. RajBhandary, a molecular biology professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said Khorana was drawn to solving tough, critical problems. He was survived by his children, Julia and Dave.

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