Nobel Prizes in DNA
The 1962 Nobel Prize in physiology and medicine awarded
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.
| 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".