Google Doodle honors biochemist Har Gobind Khorana

The biochemist rose from poverty to win the Nobel Prize for helping to decipher the genetic code.

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Google Doodle honors biochemist Har Gobind Khorana.


Har Gobind Khorana's interest in science began as a young boy under a tree in a small Indian village and lead to helping to decipher the genetic code.

Born into childhood poverty, Khorana used scholarships and fellowships to advance his education to become a respected  biochemist who was awarded a share of the 1968 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine. To highlight the accomplishment, Google on Tuesday honored Khorana on what would have been his 96th birthday.

Khorana, along with co-Nobel recipients Marshall W. Nirenberg and Robert W. Holley, discovered that the order of nucleotides in our DNA determines which amino acids are built. These amino acids form proteins, which carry out the functions of a living cell.

Google's Doodle illustrates how the scientists used three-letter combinations to represent the four chemical bases found in RNA: Adenine, cytosine, uracil and guanine. Using the letters A, C, U and G, the researchers showed how the bases form combinations that produce amino acids.

The research confirmed that the genetic code consisted of 64 distinct three-letter words.

A second scientific breakthrough would come a few years later when Khorana reported construction of the first artificial gene, which are widely used in biology labs for sequencing, cloning and engineering new plants and animals.

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