Photo: Stanford University
Roger D. Kornberg
Born: 24 April 1947, St. Louis, MO, USA
Affiliation at the time of the award: Stanford University, Stanford, CA, USA
Prize motivation: "for his studies of the molecular basis of eukaryotic transcription."
Prize share: 1/1
Roger Kornberg was born in St Louis, Missouri in the United States. His parents were biochemists and his father, Arthur Kornberg, was awarded the 1959 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. Roger Kornberg studied chemistry at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and later completed his PhD in chemical physics at Stanford University, California, in 1972. After spending time at Cambridge, England, and at Harvard Medical School, he returned to Stanford in 1978, where he carried out the research that led to his Nobel Prize. Roger Kornberg is married with three children.
An organism's genes are stored inside DNA molecules. From DNA, genes are transferred to RNA and then converted during protein formation. In the case of bacteria without cell nuclei, the process by which information stored in DNA is transferred to RNA was mapped during the 1960s. Concerning organisms with cells with delimited nuclei (eukaryotic cells), Roger Kornberg succeeded in mapping the process by studying yeast in the first decade of the new millennium. His contributions included determining the structure of the enzyme active in the process - RNA polymerase - and creating images of how the RNA molecule is constructed.