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Paul Berg

Paul BergBorn: 30-Jun-1926
Birthplace: Brooklyn, NY

Gender: Male
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Chemist
Party Affiliation: Democratic

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Pioneer in recombinant DNA

Military service: US Navy (WWII)

In 1956, American biochemist Paul Berg identified transfer ribonucleic acid (RNA), molecules inside the cell that follow directions coded in the messenger RNA (mRNA) and connect the amino acids to the correct protein chain during synthesis at the ribosome of the cell. In 1972, he used new gene splicing techniques to create the first recombinant DNA molecules, but in 1974, in what became known as the "Berg letter", he warned of the dangers inherent in experimenting with recombinant deoxyribonucleic acid. This led to the National Institutes of Health's 1976 creation of guidelines for such work. Berg shared the 1980 Nobel Prize for Chemistry with Walter Gilbert and Frederick Sanger, for their research into nucleic acids.

Father: Harry Berg (clothing manufacturer)
Mother: Sarah Brodsky (homemaker)
Wife: Mildred Levy (m. 3-Sep-1947, one son)
Son: John Alexander Berg

    High School: Abraham Lincoln High School, Brooklyn, NY (1943)
    University: BS Biochemistry, Pennsylvania State University (1948)
    University: PhD, Western Reserve University (1952)
    Scholar: Institute of Cytophysiology, Copenhagen, Denmark (1952-53)
    Scholar: Biochemistry and Microbiology, Washington University in St. Louis (1953-54)
    Teacher: Microbiology, Washington University in St. Louis (1955-59)
    Teacher: Biochemistry, Stanford University (1959-60)
    Professor: Biochemistry, Stanford University (1960-70)
    Administrator: Chairman, Department of Biochemistry, Stanford University (1969-74)
    Professor: Sam, Lulu and Jack Willson Professor of Biochemistry, Stanford University (1970-94)
    Administrator: Beckman Center for Molecular-Genetic Medicine, Stanford University (1985-2000)
    Administrator: Trustee, Rockefeller University (1990-92)
    Professor: Cahill Professor in Cancer Research, Stanford University (1994-2000)

    Eli Lilly Award in Biological Chemistry 1959
    California Scientist of the Year 1963
    Henry J. Kaiser Award for Excellence in Teaching 1969, 1972
    Gairdner Foundation International Award 1980
    Lasker Award 1980
    Nobel Prize for Chemistry 1980 (with Walter Gilbert and Frederick Sanger)
    National Medal of Science 1983
    National Library of Medicine Award 1986
    Member of the Board of Gilead Sciences (1998-)
    Schering-Plough Founder and Scientific Advisor, DNAX Research Institute
    Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications Journal Editor, 1959-68
    Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists Board of Sponsors
    Journal of Molecular Biology Editorial Board (past)
    Academy of Achievement 1988
    Al Franken for Senate
    American Academy of Arts and Sciences 1966
    American Academy of Microbiology 1992
    American Association for the Advancement of Science 1991
    American Cancer Society Research Fellow, 1952-54
    American Philosophical Society 1983
    American Society for Cell Biology
    American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology President, 1974-75
    Bill Bradley for President
    Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee
    Democratic National Committee
    Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee
    European Molecular Biology Organization 1984
    Federation of American Scientists Board of Sponsors
    French Academy of Sciences Foreign Member, 1981
    Institute of Medicine 1974
    Japanese Biochemical Society Foreign Member
    John Edwards for President
    John Kerry for President
    National Academy of Sciences 1966
    National Science Foundation
    Obama for America
    One America Committee
    Pontifical Academy of Sciences 1996
    Research!America Scientific Advisory Committee
    Royal Society Foreign Member, 1992
    Russian Academy of Sciences Foreign Member, 1991
    Salk Institute for Biological Studies Fellow, 1973-83
    National Institutes of Health Research Fellow, 1950-52
    Beta Sigma Beta
    Jewish Ancestry

Author of books:
Genes & Genomes: A Changing Perspective (1991, biochemistry; with Maxine Singer)
Dealing with Genes: The Language of Heredity (1992, biochemistry; with Maxine Singer)
Exploring Genetic Mechanisms (1997, biochemistry; with Maxine Singer)
George Beadle: An Uncommon Farmer (2003, biography; with Maxine Singer)

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