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Google honours Nobel laureate Har Gobind Khorana with a doodle

10 January 2018
Google honours Nobel laureate Har Gobind Khorana with a doodle

The man who constructed the first synthetic gene and Indian-American Noble Prize victor in Physiology Har Gobind Khorana has been honoured by Google with a doodle. In 1960 he moved to Institute for Enzyme Research at the University of Wisconsin.

According to the Nobel Prize biography for Khorana, he was "born of Hindu parents in Raipur, a little village in Punjab, which is now part of eastern Pakistan". His father, Ganpat, was an agricultural taxation clerk and put a heavy emphasis on educating his family. The tiny engineered organism was a massive leap forward, helping launch the biotechnology sector and blazing a trail for scientists looking to manipulate life at its most fundamental levels, including recent work on editing genomes using the CRISPR/Cas9 system.

While Khorana was known as a modest and down to earth man despite his accomplishments, he also used to say, "I only work on big problems". Through his experiments on nucleic acids-the lettered molecules that make up our genes-he unambiguously confirmed that the genetic code is composed of 64 distinct three-letter "words" that dictate the order of amino acids in proteins. He lived in India until 1945, when he went to England to earn a Ph.D.at the University of Liverpool. Throughout his academic journey, Khorana encountered many mentors and advisors whom he credited with shaping his fascination with proteins and nucleic acids.

Dr. Khorana is also renowned for constructing the first synthetic gene and received a multitude of awards during his lifetime, including the National Medal of Science. In 1976, they completed the synthesis of the first fully functional manmade gene in a living cell. He died in November 2011.

He was married in 1952 to a Swiss woman named Esther Elizabeth Sibler and the couple had three children. His death was announced by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where he was a professor emeritus. After a doctorate in Organic Chemistry, he went to Zurich to work with Professor Vladimir Prelog. He is survived by his children Julia and Davel.