'Nobel Laureate Har Gobind Khorana revolutionised biotechnology'

Khorana died Nov 9 in Concord, Massachissetts, aged 89, the UW-Madison, where he did his Nobel Prize winning pioneering work in DNA chemistry, announced.

Aseem Ansari, UW-Madison professor of biochemistry, said: "He revolutionised biotechnology with his pioneering work in DNA chemistry. The work that he did in Wisconsin from 1960 to 1970 continues to propel new scientific discoveries and major advances."

Khorana, who was born in India in 1922, in a small village in Punjab that is now part of Pakistan, came to Madison in 1960 to serve as co-director of the UW Institute for Enzyme Research and a member of the department of biochemistry.

His work at Wisconsin on the mechanisms by which RNA codes control the synthesis of proteins led to the Nobel Prize for physiology or medicine in 1968, which he shared with Robert Holley of Cornell University and Marshall Nirenberg of the National Institutes of Health.

In 1970, shortly after he left Madison to join the faculty of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Khorana and colleagues announced that they had synthesised two genes crucial to protein-building work.

In 1976, they completed the synthesis of the first fully functional manmade gene in a living cell. The technique they pioneered laid the groundwork for subsequent research on how the structure of a gene influences its function.

In an autobiographical note written upon winning the Nobel Prize, Khorana wrote:

"Although poor, my father was dedicated to educating his children and we were practically the only literate family in the village inhabited by about 100 people."

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