Google Doodle Honors Indian American Scientist

Har Gobind Khorana was honored in Tuesday's Google Doodle for his work in interpreting the genetic code, which ultimately won him the 1968 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine.

The artwork, created by Bangalore-based artist Rohan Dahotre, depicts Dr. Khorana (who passed away in 2011) in a black and white sketch alongside another cartoon of him in a laboratory.

Khorana died of natural causes on November 9, 2011, at the age of 89 in MA.

Popular search engine Google also designed its homepage on Tuesday dedicated to the scientist on his birth anniversary. Two years before the line of partition between India and Pakistan would run right through his state, the British administration offered Khorana a PhD fellowship from the University of Liverpool in the UK. The Khoranas were the only literate family in the village with almost 100 people.

"Together", Google explains, "they discovered that the order of nucleotides in our DNA determines which amino acids are built".

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Apart from the Nobel Prize, Har Gobind also received the National Medal of Science and the Lasker Award.

Khorana was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine along with Robert W. Holley and Marshall W. Nirenberg for "their interpretation of the genetic code and its function in protein synthesis" in 1968. Proteins are responsible for basic form and functions.

Har Gobind Khorana "was married in 1952 to Esther Elizabeth Sibler, who is of Swiss origin", according to The Nobel Prize biography.

It is believed the first artificial gene was constructed by Khorana in 1972.

Khorana's biggest contribution to the work was isolating codons, the three-letter sequences of RNA that are the blueprints for amino acids at the fundamental building block of life. He joined the faculty of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1970, where he would remain until his retirement in 2007. After a doctorate in Organic Chemistry, he went to Zurich to work with Professor Vladimir Prelog. He, being a widower since 2001, was survived by his children, Julia and Davel.

  • Toni Ryan