Dr. Har Gobind khorana – a nobel laureate of PU

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Prof. Dr. Jamil Anwar

DR. H. G. Khorana was born in a small village of about 100 residents in Raipur Punjab. His father, a lower grade government employee determined to educate his five children. The first school which Khorana attended was under the shade of a tree. Having advanced his education through scholarships, Khorana received his Bachelor’s degree in 1943, and his Master’s in 1945 from University of the Punjab Lahore.

In 1948, he completed his PhD after being awarded a scholarship by the Indian government to pursue doctoral studies at the University of Liverpool in the UK. He then went to the Swiss city of Zurich to work with professor Vladimir Prelog for one year.  A job offer in 1952 took Khorana to the University of British Columbia in Canada, where he initiated his Nobel prize-winning work. During his time there he was offered “all the freedom in the world” to do his own research, according to Gordon M Shrum, a Canadian scientist in British Columbia.  At the University of British Columbia, Khorana and a group of scientists began to work in the field of biology. Khorana was an

Expert on the chemical synthesis of proteins and nucleic acids. In 1960, he moved to the Us, where started working at the University of Wisconsin. He was granted American citizenship in 1966. Two years later, Khorana, Robert W Holley and Marshall W Nirenberg were awarded jointly the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine “for their interpretation of the genetic code and its function in protein synthesis”.

But this was not his only accolade. in 1972, Khorana was also recognized for the construction of the first artificial gene, while four years later he announced that he had gotten an artificial gene to function within a bacterial cell.  Khorana died on November 9, 2011. His death was announced by the Massachusetts institute of technology where he was a professor emeritus. He married to a Swiss lady and survived by his children, Julia and Dave.

The writer is former PVC PU in Punjab University and former Vice Chancellor Lahore Garrison University.  He can be reached at: jamilanwar@cuilalhore.edu.pk

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