Google Doodle honours scientist Har Gobind Khorana on 96th birth anniversary


Our understanding of how genes shape us owes much to the work of Har Gobind Khorana, the Indian-American biochemist celebrated in Tuesday's Google Doodle on what would have been Khorana's 96th birthday.

Scholarships helped propel the budding scientist through his scholastic journey, obtaining his doctorate in organic chemistry in 1948. He shared it with Marshall W. Nirenberg and Robert W. Holley.

He was born in 1922 in the village of Raipur, Punjab that is now in Pakistan.

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"Together, they discovered that the order of nucleotides in our DNA determines which amino acids are built".

The words code instructions for arranging amino acids, the basic units of proteins. He completed his PhD after being awarded a scholarship by the Indian government to pursue doctoral studies at the University of Liverpool in the United Kingdom, in 1948.

A second scientific breakthrough would come a few years later when Khorana reported construction of the first artificial gene, which are widely used in biology labs for sequencing, cloning and engineering new plants and animals.

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Khorana did not stop at this.

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.

Despite his accomplishments, Khorana's friends described him as a modest man who avoided publicity. He has been an alumnus of the University of Liverpool, University of Cambridge and University of Punjab which proudly laud his outstanding research. He worked under Professor Vladimir Prelog in Zurich for one year and continued his reserch.

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