Search engine giant Google, in the Indian-American scientist’s honor, is changing its logo in 13 countries to a doodle – or illustration – of him and his DNA work. Khorana’s birth anniversary is today; he would have been 96 years old.
Known for his comprehensive work on DNA and for constructing first synthetic gene, Khorana, along with two other scientists, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1968 for research on nucleotides and genes.
Born in 1922 in Raipur, now in Pakistan, Khorana, from an early age, was passionate about science which grew stronger with time as scholarships propelled the budding scientist through his scholastic journey. Helped by the award of a Government of India Fellowship, Khorana moved to England in 1945 where he studied for a PhD degree at the University of Liverpool.
The scientist’s interest in proteins and nucleic acids took root while his stay in Cambridge from 1950 till 1952. After moving to Vancouver in 1952, he started his research on DNA under Gordon M Shrum of University of British Columbia. It was through his research at universities in England, Switzerland, Canada, and finally at the University of Wisconsin that he and two fellow researchers received the coveted Nobel Prize in 1968.
“Together, they discovered that the order of nucleotides in our DNA determines which amino acids are built. These amino acids form proteins, which carry out essential cell functions,” Google said in a post. After this achievement, fewer than five years later, he made a second breakthrough by constructing the first synthetic gene.
Khorana became a US citizen in 1966 and faculty member at MIT in 1970, retiring in 2007.
Despite his accomplishments, Khorana’s friends described him as a modest man who avoided publicity.
Khorana died at the age of 89, in November 2011.