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.
Their work and discoveries range from the Earth’s climate and our sense of touch to efforts to safeguard freedom of expression.
See them all presented here.