Nobel Prizes in DNA   updated February 10, 2016  carrigan@fnal.gov (subject line must be sensible)

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Nobel Prizes in DNA

The 1962 Nobel Prize in physiology and medicine awarded to Watson, Crick, and Wilkins was just the first of many in the DNA area. There has been some  controversy surrounding the 1962 award. Nearly everyone agree that the three people that received the prize were appropriate. Many commentators have been concerned that Rosa Franklin did not share in the award. Her work measuring the x-ray diffraction structure of DNA provided the crucial link to untangle the structure. One mitigating circumstance was that Franklin died several years before the 1962 Nobel awards. As far as I know only one Nobel Prize has been awarded posthumously. On the other hand a real argument can be made that her work was undervalued because she was a woman.
     As far as I understand, no work on endosymbiosis has received a Nobel Prize. One person near the core of endosymbiosis is Lynn Margulis. A problem with endosymbiosis as a prize topic is that the subject has developed over a rather long time and has sometimes appeared to be on the fringe.
     For the future the subject of the origin of life would seem to be an excellent place to prospect for Nobel Prize worthy topics.
Nowadays several of the great centers for investigating the origin of life are La Jolla and Champaign-Urbana. Actually the idea of scientifically investigating the origin of life goes back well before 1859 when Louis Pasteur disproved spontaneous generation. In some sense, Pasteur's  demonstration was the opposite of finding the origin of life. In 1953 Stanley Miller demonstrated that amino acids could be generated in a sparked mixture of methane, ammonia, water, and hydrogen. This was a step along the path to understanding the origin of life. Many more steps may lie ahead.
I do not have the expertise to assay Nobel Prizes in chemistry and physiology and medicine. The interested reader is invited to find my omissions. Some of the prizes that relate to DNA and RNA over the last sixty-five years are noted below (the citations are drawn from the Prize pages):

Ochoa and Kornberg (1959 - physiology) "... discovery of the mechanisms in the biological synthesis of ribonucleic acid and deoxyribonucleic acid"

Holley, Khorana, and Nirenberg (1968 - physiology) "...  interpretation of the genetic code and its function in proton synthesis"
Arbers, Nathans, and Smith (1978 - physiology) "for the discovery of restriction enzymes and their application to problems of molecular genetics"
Berg, Gilbert, and Sanger (1980 -chemistry) "... fundamental studies of the biochemistry of nucleic acids, with particular regard to recombinant-DNA ... and contributions concerning the determination of base sequences in nucleic acids"
Altman and Cech (1989 - chemistry) "for their discovery of catalytic properties of RNA"
Mullis and Smith (1993 -chemistry)  "for contributions to the developments of methods within DNA-based chemistry"
Boyer and Walker (1997 - chemistry) "for their elucidation of the enzymatic mechanism underlying the synthesis of adenosine triphosphate (ATP)" . Parenthetically, Jens Skou who was also a chemistry winner in 1997, was from Aarhus University. Aarhus is also deeply involved in channeling, a field where I have worked. Jens Lindhard, a father of channeling theory from Aarhus and arguably deserving a Nobel Prize in physics, died the same day Skou received the chemistry prize.
Brenner, Horvitz, and Sulston (2002 - physiology) "for their discoveries concerning 'genetic regulation of organ development and programmed cell death'"
Roger Kornberg (2006 -chemistry) "for studies of the molecular basis of eukaryotic transcription". (He is the son of Arthur Kornberg, Nobel 1959)

Ramakrishnan, Steitz, and Yonath (2009 - chemistry) "for studies of the structure and function of the ribosome'"
Lindahl, Modrich, Sancar (2015 -chemistry) "for mechanistic studies of DNA repair".