Har Gobind Khorana

Har Gobind Khorana was an Indian American Biochemist who was born on january 9, 1922 in Raipur, Punjab , British India (today’s Pakistan) became a naturalized citizen of the United States in 1966. Though a very common name, but his extraordinary contribution in field of science and techonology, gave it a whole new meaning. He was born to a Patwari ( taxation officer) who home schooled him. Har Gobind Khorana later went to the best university of that time , punjab university, from where he earned his M.Sc in 1945. In 1945, he began studying at the University of Liverpool and graduated with a Ph.D. His curiosity and lust for knowledge didn’t let him stop there and he continued with his postdoctral studies in Zurich. Then to Cambridge university, University of British Columbia . Har Gobind Khorana became a professor at Massachusetts institutes of technology till 2007. Along with books this brilliant brain tried to decode the basic human cell structure. Har Gobind Khorana carried a number of experiments on the ‘cell nucleus’ (The central unit of cell or the brain of the cell). His team showed that how a RNA (Ribonucleic Acid) with different number of repeating units helps in formations of dipeptides, tripeptides and the polypeptides . They unfold the mystery of formation of proteins by genetic codes carried by nucleotides in nucleic acids. Har Gobind Khorana along with Marshall W.Nirenberg and Robert W. Holley got the noble prize for physiology and medicine in 1968. He was also awarded the Louiza Gross Horwitz prize from Cambridge university in  same year. He was the first scientist to synthesize Oligonucleotides (group of 6 0r more nucleotides). Har Gobind Khorana didn’t stop his research work here, he linked pieces of DNA using polymerase and ligase using non-aqueous chemistry, the first synthetic gene by him. This is the basis of the very well known PCR (polymerase chain reaction) that is widely used in cloning and engineering new plants and animals. He also did a detail study about bacteriorhodopsin a pigment similar to human eye rhodospin that converts chemical energy into light energy. The university of Wisconsin-Madison, the govt. of India, and the Indo-US science and technology forum jointly started a program in his name ‘Khorana Program’ that is helping nations and individuals in different spheres. Khorana maintained a beautiful balance between his personal and professional life. He was married to Esther Elizabeth in 1952 and had three children. He bought the honour to his family and pride to the whole Indian nation specially our Punjab . Har Gobind Khorana died on November 9, 2011 but his contributions will never let him fade from the memory of millions. We are able to find a reason of human cell malformations and can diagnose many due to his successful experiments.