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ID 16644

Roger Kornberg (1947 - )

Roger Kornberg was born in St. Louis, Missouri. He was the first of three children born to Arthur Kornberg and his wife, Sylvy. With both parents being well-respected scientists, it was not surprising that Roger Kornberg also developed an interest and an enthusiasm for science. As he said in an interview:

Science was a part of dinner conversation and an activity in the afternoons and on weekends. Both my parents had fine scientific minds and taught by example how to approach questions and problems in a logical, dispassionate way. Scientific reasoning became second nature. Above all, the joy of science became evident to my brothers and me.

Kornberg studied chemistry and biochemistry, and without having to think about it, became a scientist. He graduated from Harvard University in 1967 with a Bachelors in science, and went to Stanford University for graduate work. His doctoral thesis was on the chemical nature of phospholipids.

In 1972, Kornberg went to the Medical Research Council in Cambridge for postdoctoral work in X-ray crystallography. There he became interested in the X-ray patterns Aaron Klug obtained for chromatin. Using this and other experimental data, Kornberg eventually worked out the importance of histones to chromatin structure. Kornberg published his results in 1974.

Kornberg stayed on staff at the MRC until 1975 when he was offered an assistant professorship at Harvard University. In 1978, he moved to Stanford University where he is now professor of structural biology.

Over the past 35 years, Kornberg has published over 150 peer-reviewed research papers on phospholipid and chromatin structure, gene regulation and transcription control. His current research interest is on the overall structure of chromatin and chromosomes and how such structuring may be associated with gene repression.

Kornberg used to play the violin as a child and likes to read. However, he admits that his main interest outside of science revolves around his family.

Description:
In 1974, Roger Kornberg worked out the importance of histones to chromatin structure.
Keywords:
x-ray crystallography, roger kornberg, arthur kornberg, sylvy, gene repression, chromatin, structural biology, histones, chemical nature, gene regulation, transcription control, phospholipid, aaron klug
Creative Commons License This work by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

Related content:

16641. Video 29: Roger Kornberg, clip 3
Packing ratio of DNA.
16639. Video 29: Roger Kornberg, clip 1
Early experiences with science.
15887. DNA packaging
DNA is coiled around proteins and packaged as chromatin within the nucleus of cells. Aaron Klug and Roger Kornberg figured out the structure of chromatin. It has been proposed that the coiling (or rather uncoiling) of DNA is a way of controlling the pro
16640. Video 29: Roger Kornberg, clip 2
Hierarchy of levels of chromatin condensation.
16643. Video 29: Roger Kornberg, clip 5
Mechanism of regulation for prokaryotes vs. eukaryotes.
16642. Video 29: Roger Kornberg, clip 4
Mechanism of condensation -- accordion vs. ball of yarn.
16627. Animation 29: DNA is packaged in a chromosome.
Roger Kornberg explains his work with Aaron Klug on histones, which bind DNA to form chromatin.
16628. Gallery 29: The Kornberg family, 1959
The Kornberg family, Stockholm, 1959. (L-R) Roger, Kenneth, Sylvy, Arthur, Thomas.
16631. Gallery 29: Roger Kornberg, 1980s
Roger Kornberg, 1980s.
15316. Watson and Crick's Nature paper, Arthur Kornberg
Arthur Kornberg talks about Watson and Crick's Nature paper.
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