Tuesday’s Doodle on the Google.com search home page has a significant connection to the University of Wisconsin.
It celebrates the 96th birthday of Har Gobind Khorana, an Indian-American biochemist whose passion for science started under a tree in the small village of Raipur, India, and grew into Nobel Prize-winning research on nucleotides and genes while at UW-Madison.
“He revolutionized biotechnology with his pioneering work in DNA chemistry,” Aseem Ansari, UW–Madison professor of biochemistry said in 2011 after Khorana's death. “The work that he did in Wisconsin from 1960 to 1970 continues to propel new scientific discoveries and major advances.”
Khorana came to Madison in 1960 to serve as co-director of the UW Institute for Enzyme Research and a member of the Department of Biochemistry, according to UW-Madison.
It was at Wisconsin that he and colleagues discovered the mechanisms by which RNA codes for the synthesis of proteins. This work led to the Nobel Prize for physiology or medicine in 1968, which he shared with Robert Holley of Cornell University and Marshall Nirenberg of the National Institutes of Health.
In 1970, shortly after he left Madison to join the faculty of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Khorana and colleagues announced that they had synthesized two genes crucial to protein building-work also accomplished at UW–Madison. In 1976, they completed the synthesis of the first fully functional manmade gene in a living cell. The technique they pioneered laid the groundwork for subsequent research on how the structure of a gene influences its function.