Nobel Prizes and Laureates

Nobel Prizes and Laureates

The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 1968
Robert W. Holley, H. Gobind Khorana, Marshall W. Nirenberg

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Marshall W. Nirenberg - Facts

Marshall W. Nirenberg

Marshall W. Nirenberg

Born: 10 April 1927, New York, NY, USA

Died: 15 January 2010, New York, NY, USA

Affiliation at the time of the award: National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD, USA

Prize motivation: "for their interpretation of the genetic code and its function in protein synthesis"

Field: genetics, molecular biology

Prize share: 1/3


In the 1950s, it was established that genetic information is transferred from DNA to RNA, to protein. One sequence of three nucleotides in DNA corresponds to a certain amino acid within a protein. How could this genetic code be cracked? Marshall Nirenberg and Heinrich Matthaei produced a long RNA chain consisting of a single nucleotide. When this resulted in a long chain of a single amino acid, the first part of the genetic code "puzzle" fell into place. The remainder of the code was mapped out in the years that followed.

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