1932

Abstract

2011 marked the fiftieth anniversary of breaking the genetic code in 1961. Marshall Nirenberg, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) scientist who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1968 for his role in deciphering the code, wrote in 2004 a personal account of his research. The race for the code was a competition between the NIH group and Severo Ochoa's laboratory at New York University (NYU) School of Medicine, where I was a graduate student and conducted many of the experiments. I am now 83 years old. These facts prompt me to recall how I, together with Joe Speyer, an instructor in the Department of Biochemistry at NYU, unexpectedly became involved in deciphering the code, which also became the basis of my PhD thesis. Ochoa won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1959 for discovering polynucleotide phosphorylase (PNP), the first enzyme found to synthesize RNA in the test tube. The story of how PNP made the deciphering of the code feasible is recalled here.

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2012-10-13
2024-04-17
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