Google Doodle honors Har Govind Khorana - biochemist who deciphered DNA


Khorana was the youngest of five children, and his father helped all five learn to read and write, which was uncommon for villagers in Raipur, India at the time.

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

In the Indian-American scientist's honour, Google is changing its logo in 13 countries to a doodle - or illustration - of him and his DNA work. Google paid tribute to the man with a doodle to celebrate his 96th birthday. In 1972, Khorana was also recognised for the construction of the first artificial gene, while four years later he announced that he had gotten an artificial gene to function within a bacterial cell. 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. Through scholarships, Khorana eventually earned his doctorate in organic chemistry at the age of 26 - and then began his worldwide academic career, conducting research in Canada, England, and Switzerland before settling in the United States. "The correct date of his birth is not known; that shown in documents is January 9th, 1922".

Throughout his famed career, Khorana never lost touch with his modest beginnings, which infused him with a sense of humility that was admired by his colleagues. Throughout his academic journey, Khorana encountered many mentors and advisors whom he credited with shaping his fascination with proteins and nucleic acids. He received a scholarship to study chemistry at Punjab University in Lahore, but he was too shy to attend the mandatory admissions interview and considered majoring in English instead.

After doing research in Switzerland and Canada, Khorana started working in Institute for Enzyme Research and the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

In 1945, with a fellowship from the Indian government, he left for England to pursue a PhD at the University of Liverpool.

-He then went to the Swiss city of Zurich to work with Professor Vladimir Prelog for one year.

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

He became a United States citizen in 1966 and an MIT faculty member in 1970.