Marshall W. Nirenberg


Marshall W. Nirenberg

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Marshall W. Nirenberg
The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 1968

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”

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.

To cite this section
MLA style: Marshall W. Nirenberg – Facts. Nobel Prize Outreach AB 2023. Mon. 4 Dec 2023. <>

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