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Roger D. Kornberg

AKA Roger David Kornberg

Born: 24-Apr-1947
Birthplace: St. Louis, MO

Gender: Male
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Scientist

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Molecular basis of eukaryotic transcription

The process that allows cells to construct proteins from deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) is, as described by Roger D. Kornberg, something akin to a machine. "It has moving parts", Kornberg says, which "function in synchrony, in appropriate sequence and in synchrony with one another. They execute remarkable transitions from one stage or step in the process to the following one and part of the pleasure and the fascination of what we do has been in discovering the mechanics, the inner workings of that machine." For his research into the inner workings of transcription, describing how information is carried from genes and converted to molecules called messenger ribonucleic acid (RNA), Kornberg won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2006.

Kornberg's research also led to the discovery of the nucleosome, the basic structural unit of eukaryotic chromosomes, comprised of DNA and histone proteins. Viewed with an electron microscope, nucleosomes are bead-like structures along the DNA.

Receiving his Nobel honors brought Kornberg to Stockholm for the second time. In his first visit, at the age of 12, he had accompanied his father, Arthur Kornberg, who won the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1959 for showing how genetic information is carried between DNA molecules. The Kornbergs are the sixth father-son Nobel Prize winners, and the tenth family with closely-related Nobel laureates. His mother was a biochemist, as is his wife, Yahli Lorch, who is his frequent scientific collaborator. Kornberg's Nobel Prize included a cash award of about $1.4-million.

Father: Arthur Kornberg (biochemist)
Mother: Sylvy Ruth Levy Kornberg (biochemist, d. 1986)
Mother: Charlene Walsh Levering (stepmother, d. 1995)
Mother: Carolyn Frey Dixon (stepmother)
Brother: Thomas William Kornberg (physicist, b. 1948)
Brother: Kenneth Andrew Kornberg (architect, b. 1950)
Wife: Yahli Lorch (biochemist)
Son: Guy (b. circa 1987)
Daughter: Maya (b. circa 1993)
Son: Gilbert (b. circa 1996)

    High School: James Madison High School, Brooklyn, NY (1963)
    University: BS Chemistry, Harvard University (1967)
    University: PhD Chemistry, Stanford University (1972)
    Scholar: Biochemistry, Medical Research Council (1972-76)
    Teacher: Chemistry, Harvard University (1976-78)
    Professor: Chemistry, Stanford University (1978-)
    Professor: Chemistry, Hebrew University (1986-)

    Nobel Prize for Chemistry 2006
    American Academy of Arts and Sciences
    Federation of American Scientists Board of Sponsors
    National Academy of Sciences
    Austrian Ancestry
    Polish Ancestry

Official Website:

Author of books:
Nucleosomes (1989, with Paul M. Wassarman)

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