Nobel Prize

Stanford University's Roger Kornberg has picked up this year's Nobel Prize for Chemistry for his pioneering X-ray crystallographic work that revealed for the first time in atomic detail how the genetic code held in DNA is transcribed into messenger RNA and so used for protein production in the cells of all eukaryotes from yeast to yak by way of human beings. His RNA revelations have implications for understanding and treating cancer, heart disease, poisoning, and the development of stem cells in medicine. Transcription is necessary for all life. This makes the detailed description of the mechanism that Roger Kornberg provides exactly the kind of "most important chemical discovery" referred to by Alfred Nobel in his will. Roger Kornberg's father Arthur won the 1959 Nobel Prize for Medicine for his work on DNA. This year's award makes the Kornbergs the sixth father and son to win a Nobel. The Nobel Prize for Medicine this year was awarded to Stanford's Andrew Fire and Craig Mello of University of Massachusetts Medical School for their work on RNA interference and gene silencing, the counterpoint to gene expression described by Kornberg.