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Murphy, Thomas H. (ed.) / Wisconsin alumnus
Vol. 70, Number 2 (Nov. 1968)

The man who won the Nobel,   pp. 10-11


Page 10


                          THE MAN
         WHO WON THE
                                  NOBEL
F OR THE THIRD consecutive year Americans have
     won the Nobel Prize for medicine. One of this year's
recipients, as you know from your newspaper of October
16, was Har Gobind Khorana, Ph.D., a University of
Wisconsin biochemist.
  Dr. Khorana shares the honor with two others, M. W.
Nirenberg of the National Heart Institute, Bethesda, Md.,
and Robert W. Holley of Cornell university, Ithaca, New
York.
  The three men worked independently, occasionally
corresponding and exchanging data. Together they de-
ciphered the genetic-hereditary code and its function in
protein synthesis. Their success points the way to over-
coming hereditary illness and may some day give man
the power to control his biologic destiny.
  Cautious about the achievement and its potential, Dr.
Khorana told a press conference that "maybe one day
the work that we do will have practical applications."
   "We are at a very elementary stage, but a very neces-
sary stage," he added.
"    VERYTHING that any living cell does, or almost
  all of it, is done by proteins, and the proteins are
under control of the genes. We're trying to find out how
genes control synthesis."
  A Swedish fellow scientist who won the medical prize
in 1955, Prof. Hugo Theorell, elaborated on Dr. Kho-
rana's accomplishment. "(The work means) that we sud-
denly have got to understand the alphabet of life as far
as heredity is concerned. Some illnesses result from mis-
prints in this process."
   Theorell said that defects in enzymes or hemoblogin
can make a body prone to certain ailments. "The three
Nobel Prize winners have not provided any remedy for
such illnesses, but their great feat . . . lies in the fact
they have shown what it is we have to attack to combat
such hereditary illnesses," he said.
   "The three winners independently have managed to
break the genetic code; Niremberg by providing the very
key to its structure, and Khorana and Holley by proving
its structure in detail."
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