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Arthur Kornberg

Arthur Kornberg was born in Brooklyn, New York. His parents emigrated from Eastern Europe and neither of them had a formal education. Kornbergís father worked in a New York sweatshop to support his family. Later, he and his wife opened a small hardware store. Kornbergís parents believed that education was very important and encouraged their children to stay in school. Kornberg was an excellent student; he did so well that he graduated high school 3 years early. In 1937, he received his Bachelorís of Science degree from City College when he was 19. He then went to the University of Rochester to study medicine. His first experience with research was a clinical study he did on jaundice in 1942. Kornberg suffered from mild jaundice himself and while working as an intern in Strong Memorial Hospital, he became interested in the incidences and symptoms of mild vs. severe jaundice. His clinical study was published and caught the attention of Rolla Dyer, the Director of the National Institute of Health. Dyer appointed Kornberg to a research post at NIH. From 1942 to 1953, Kornberg was a Commissioned Officer in the U. S. Public Health Service ñ eventually a Lieutenant in the U. S. Coast Guards. As part of his duties at the NIH, Kornberg did a tour as shipís doctor during World War II. However, he was mostly involved in research on nutrition and metabolic reactions. From 1947-1953, he was the Chief of the Enzyme and Metabolism Section of the NIH and worked at a number of universities as a research investigator. In 1953, Kornberg was appointed head of the Department of Microbiology in the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. It was here that he isolated DNA polymerase I and show that life (DNA) can be made in a test tube. In 1959, Kornberg shared the Nobel Prize for Physiology and Medicine with Severo OchoaóKornberg for the enzymatic synthesis of DNA, Ochoa for the enzymatic synthesis of RNA. In 1959, Kornberg became head of the Department of Biochemistry at Stanford University. He is now Professor Emeritus in the same department at Stanford and still maintains an active research lab. Over the years, Kornberg isolated and identified over a hundred enzymes used in metabolic reactions. Kornberg enjoys teaching and has written a textbook on DNA replication as well as an autobiography on his experiences as a scientistñ "For the Love of Enzymes." He sees science as a ëcreative activityí and an ëart form,í and he derives tremendous satisfaction and enjoyment from doing research. Science runs in the Kornberg family. Kornbergís wife, Sylvy was a research associate and worked in Kornbergís lab. Kornbergís son, Roger, is also a researcher and isolated DNA polymerase III.
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