Roger D. Kornberg

Banquet speech

Roger D. Kornberg’s speech at the Nobel Banquet in the Stockholm City Hall, 10 December 2006.

Your Majesties, Your Royal Highnesses, Ladies and Gentlemen

I am deeply grateful for the honor bestowed on me by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. It is an honor I share with many collaborators. My wife Yahli has been my closest collaborator. She has borne a double burden. She is the wife of a scientist, and herself a scientist without a wife. Beyond her participation she has also been a source of inspiration in our work.

Because the work took a long time, more than 20 years, it involved an especially large number of collaborators, some 50 at Stanford, and others around the world, in Israel, Europe, the Orient, and of course the Americas. I might add that the Chemistry Prize recognizes not only our own work, but also one of the most active areas of research in chemistry and molecular biology today.

We have enjoyed the privilege of devoting our lives to the pursuit of basic knowledge. This is an extraordinary privilege. We owe it to public support of science. We are also indebted to the Swedish Academy of Sciences in this regard, because the Prize increases public awareness, and thus public support of science. We must furthermore acknowledge both the Academy and the Nobel Foundation for their great skill in not only preserving but enhancing the importance of the Prize.

There is perhaps a deeper significance. In a world beset by irrational influences, with often devastating consequences, the Nobel Prizes call attention to the triumph of reason. They salute our search for understanding. They celebrate discovery of the most basic facts of nature.

Even as we celebrate, and savor this moment, the work goes on. I am reminded of some lines from the American poet, Robert Frost. During the long, arduous effort of the past 20 years, I often repeated these lines to myself. I view them as a kind of metaphor for science and our ongoing commitment to it.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

Yahli joins me in thanking everyone responsible for this glittering event. Once again, my heartfelt thanks to my collaborators, to the Swedish Academy of Sciences, and to the Nobel Foundation. And thank you all.

Copyright © The Nobel Foundation 2006

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MLA style: Roger D. Kornberg – Banquet speech. Nobel Prize Outreach AB 2022. Thu. 7 Jul 2022. <>

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