Hargobind Khorana, an Indian-American biochemist, who would have turned 96 this Tuesday, won a Nobel prize in the field of genetics in 1968. Born in a small village in Raipur, Punjab, Khorana took interest in science since an early age.
Scholarships saw him through college and university. He completed his Bachelor’s degree in 1943, and his Master’s from Punjab University in Lahore in 1945.
Khorana went to the University of Liverpool around 1948 and then went on to study at the Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule in Zurich. He spent some time in India after that and returned to Cambridge to resume his research on proteins and nucleic acids. Khorana became an expert on the chemical synthesis of proteins and nucleic acids.
He carried on with his research work at universities in England, Switzerland and Canada. In 1968, he was awarded Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine along with two other researchers.
He was awarded the prestigious prize for his discovery that the order of nucleotides in DNA determines which amino acids are built. Nucleotides are subunits of DNA or RNA, and consist of bases made of nitrogen. Khorana had a number of awards and accomplishments to his credit. He was also awarded National Medal of Science for his pioneering work in the field of genetics. He passed away on November 9, 2011.