Google Doodle is honoring the esteemed biochemist Har Gobind Khorana on what would have been his 96th birthday. Here’s what you need to know about Har!
1. He discovered an essential function of our DNA. Har Gobind Khorana and two other researchers 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,” according to Google’s bio of the biochemist. Dr. Khorana, Robert Holley, and Marshall Nirenberg won the 1968 Nobel Prize in physiology/medicine “for their interpretation of the genetic code and its function in protein synthesis.”
2. His family grew up poor. Despite unfortunate circumstances, Dr. Khorana’s father thought it was essential for his kids to read and write. Dr. Khorana and his family lived in a small village of Raipur, India. Dr. Khorana’s education started under a tree, which his where his school met. His passion for the sciences was instant. With the help of scholarships, Dr. Khorana was able to get his doctorate in organic chemistry in 1948.
3. He’s known for more than one scientific breakthrough. Just a few years after winning the Nobel Prize, Dr. Khorana constructed the first synthetic gene.
4. His wife brought a “consistent sense of purpose” to his life. Dr. Khorana married Esther Elizabeth Sibler in 1952. According to Nobel Prize’s biography of Dr. Khorana, she “brought a consistent sense of purpose into his life at a time when, after six years’ absence from the country of his birth, Khorana felt out of place everywhere and at home nowhere.” Dr. Khorana and Esther have three children together: Julia, Emily, and Dave.
5. He didn’t retire until well into his 80s. In 1970, Har was named Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Biology and Chemistry at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He didn’t retire until 2007. He died in 2011 at the age of 89.
HollywoodLifers, did you know about Har before he became a Google Doodle? Let us know!