Today’s Google Doodle honours Indian American biochemist Har Gobind Khorana on his 96thbirth anniversary. Khorana shared the 1968 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine with Marshall W. Nirenberg and Robert W. Holley for research that showed how the order of nucleotides in nucleic acids, which carry the genetic code of the cell, control the cell's synthesis of proteins.
Khorana was the first scientist to chemically synthesize oligonucleotides, which are short DNA or RNA molecules that can be used in genetic testing, research, and forensics.
Who would’ve thought that a man who hailed from a small town in Raipur of around 100 residents would go ahead to win the Noble Prize. Khorana was born to the only literate family in the village with his father teaching his five children to read and write.
Khorana pursued his education through scholarships. After completing his master’s in 1945 from Punjab University in Lahore, he went to the University of Liverpool after the Indian government awarded Khorana with a scholarship to pursue doctoral studies. In 1948, he completed his PhD.
His Nobel Prize-winning research started in 1952 when Khorana took up a job offer that took him to the University of British Columbia in Canada. In 1960, Khorana moved to the US and started working in the University of Wisconsin. He was granted the American citizenship in 1966.
Khorana, Robert W. Holley and Marshall W. Nirenberg jointly won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1968 "for their interpretation of the genetic code and its function in protein synthesis".
Apart from the Noble, Khorana also won the Lasker Award for basic medical research and the National Medal of Science.Khorana was married to Swiss Esther Elizabeth Sibler. Tragedy occurred when their daughter died in 1979. Khorana suffered another blow when his wife died in 2001. He died on 9thNovemeber, 2011 due to natural causes. Khorana is survived by his children Julia and Davel.