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American Wins Chemistry Nobel for DNA Work

The 2006 Nobel Prize winner in chemistry is Stanford biologist Roger Kornberg, who discovered how cells read genetic information encoded in DNA. Kornberg is the second in his family to win the prize. His father Arthur won the 1959 Nobel Prize in medicine for his own work on DNA. The two are the sixth father-son duo to win Nobel Prizes since the prize's inception in 1901.

Kornberg created the first detailed description of DNA transcription, the process which transfers genetic information stored in DNA to proteins in the body. DNA can be subdivded into genes, which encode specialized proteins that perform specific functions in a cell. Through transcription and translation, cells can read the genetic information from the DNA and produce the amino acids that make up proteins.

Kornberg created the first detailed pictures of how this process works at the cellular level. His images shed light on one of the most important chemical reactions in the human body. He will receive the prize, worth $1.4 million, in Stockholm later this year.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Steve Inskeep is a host of NPR's Morning Edition, as well as NPR's morning news podcast Up First.
Award-winning journalist Richard Harris has reported on a wide range of topics in science, medicine and the environment since he joined NPR in 1986. In early 2014, his focus shifted from an emphasis on climate change and the environment to biomedical research.