Robert W. Holley
The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 1968
Born: 28 January 1922, Urbana, IL, USA
Died: 11 February 1993, Los Gatos, CA, USA
Affiliation at the time of the award: Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, USA
Prize motivation: "for their interpretation of the genetic code and its function in protein synthesis."
Prize share: 1/3
In the 1950s, it was established that genetic information is transferred from DNA to RNA, to protein. A sequence of three nucleotides in DNA - known as a codon - corresponds to a particular amino acid in a protein. The proteins are formed in what are known as ribosomes, which lie outside the cell nucleus. The transportation of amino acids to these ribosomes takes place with the help of a particular kind of RNA called transfer RNA or "tRNA". There exists a special tRNA molecule for each codon. Robert Holley was the first person to successfully isolate tRNA and, in 1964, was also able to map its structure.
Their work and discoveries range from cancer therapy and laser physics to developing proteins that can solve humankind’s chemical problems. The work of the 2018 Nobel Laureates also included combating war crimes, as well as integrating innovation and climate with economic growth. Find out more.