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Sidney Altman

Sidney AltmanBorn: 7-May-1939
Birthplace: Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Gender: Male
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Chemist, Biologist

Nationality: Canada
Executive summary: Proved enzyme role of RNA

Molecular biologist Sidney Altman discovered in 1983 that ribonucleic acid (RNA) can initiate some biological reactions, acting as a abiocatalyst and seemingly playing the role of a protein enzyme. This overturned the established scientific understanding that RNA acts only as a carrier of genetic information, and challenged basic biological tenets on the origins of life. He won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1989, sharing the award with Thomas R. Cech, who reached very similar conclusions in his own independent work.

Father: Victor Altman (grocery worker)
Mother: Ray Arlin (textile worker)
Wife: Ann Korner (m. 1972, one son, one daughter)
Son: Daniel (b. 1974)
Daughter: Leah (b. 1977)

    High School: West Hill High School, Montreal, Quebec, Canada (1956)
    University: BS Physics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1960)
    Lecturer: Physics, Columbia University (1960-62)
    University: PhD Biophysics, University of Colorado (1967)
    Teacher: Molecular Biology, Vanderbilt University (1967)
    Scholar: Molecular Biology, Harvard University (1967-69)
    Fellow: Molecular Biology, Cambridge University (1969-71)
    Teacher: Biology, Yale University (1971-80)
    Professor: Biology, Yale University (1980-90)
    Administrator: Dean of Yale College, Yale University (1985-90)
    Professor: Sterling Professor of Biology, Yale University (1990-)

    Nobel Prize for Chemistry 1989 (with Thomas R. Cech)
    Lewis S. Rosenstiel Award for Distinguished Work in Basic Medical Science 1989
    National Institutes of Health Merit Award 1989
    Novartis-Drew Award in Biomedical Research 1999
    Biomega Laboratories Scientific Advisory Board
    Chiron Corporation Scientific Advisory Board, PathoGenesis Corp.
    Antisense and Nucleic Acid Drug Development Editorial Board (1997-)
    American Scientist Editorial Board (1977-90)
    Cell Associate Editor (1983-87)
    RNA Editorial Board (1995-)
    American Academy of Arts and Sciences 1990
    American Association for the Advancement of Science 1987
    American Philosophical Society 1990
    American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
    Council on Foreign Relations
    Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation Research grant, 1967-69
    Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation Board of Directors
    Dibner Institute for the History of Science and Technology Trustee (2000-)
    Federation of American Scientists Board of Sponsors
    Genetics Society of America
    National Academy of Sciences 1990
    Weizmann Institute of Science Board of Governors
    Canadian Ancestry
    Naturalized US Citizen 1984 (concurrent)

Official Website:

Author of books:
Transfer RNA (1978)
Science at Yale (2002)

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