Arthur Kornberg - Molecular Biologists, Timeline and Childhood

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Arthur Kornberg's Personal Details

Arthur Kornberg was an American biochemist

InformationDetail
BirthdayMarch 3, 1918
Died onOctober 26, 2007
NationalityAmerican
FamousScientists, Molecular Biologists, Biochemists
SpousesCarolyn Frey Dixon (1998–2007; his death), Charlene Walsh Levering (1988–1995; her death), Sylvy Ruth Levy (1943–1986; her death; 3 children)
Birth PlaceNew York City, United States
GenderMale
FatherJoseph
MotherLena (née Katz) Kornberg
Sun SignPisces
Born inNew York City, United States
Famous asBiochemist
Died at Age89

// Famous Molecular Biologists

Arthur Kornberg's photo

Who is Arthur Kornberg?

Arthur Kornberg was an American biochemist, born in New York City in early twentieth century. His parents, who came to the USA at the turn of the century from Austrian Galicia, were not-so-well-off traders. Kornberg began his education at a public school and funded his college education with the help of scholarships. His initial aim was to become a doctor, but while studying for his medical degree, he began to take interest in research and started a survey to see if jaundice was common among medical students. The paper, which was published a year after he earned his MD, caught the attention of the Director of National Institutes of Health. On his invitation, Kornberg joined NIH and served there for eleven years; in-between he took breaks to update his knowledge on enzymes. Later he began his teaching career as a professor at Washington University, but continued with his research. Here he was able to isolate DNA polymerizing enzyme, which earned him Nobel Prize three years later. Later he shifted to the University of Stanford and remained there for rest of his life. He was also socially very aware and lent his name to relevant movements.

// Famous Biochemists

Childhood & Early Life

Arthur Kornberg was born on March 3, 1918 in Brooklyn, New York City. His parents, Joseph and Lena (née Katz) Kornberg, were Jewish emigrants from Austrian Galicia, now part of Poland.

Arthur's father, Joseph Kornberg, did not have any formal education, but could speak at least six languages. In New York, he operated a sweet shop, but later as his health failed, he opened a hardware store. When Arthur turned nine, he began to lend a helping hand at the store.

An exceptionally bright student from the start, Arthur studied at Abraham Lincoln High School at Brooklyn, graduating from there in 1933. Upon receiving a scholarship he next enrolled in premedical course at City College, New York with biology and chemistry as his major.

He received his B. Sc. degree in 1937. He then joined University of Rochester Medical Center for his medical degree and received his MD in 1941. Here he began to develop interest in medical research.

Kornberg suffered from a hereditary genetic condition called Gilbert syndrome and his blood contained a slightly higher level of bilirubin. It made him susceptible to jaundice. While studying at the medical school, he began to take survey of his fellow students, trying to establish how common the syndrome was.

Career

Upon receiving his medical degree in 1941, Kornberg entered Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester for his internship, and completed the same in 1942. Subsequently, he joined the United States Coast Guard as a Lieutenant, serving as a ship's doctor, as part of his military service.

In 1942, he published the result of his above mentioned survey. Titled, ‘The Occurrence of Jaundice in an Otherwise Normal Medical Student’, it caught the attention of Rolla Dyer, the Director of National Institute of Health, who invited him to join his research team at the Nutritional Laboratory.

Kornberg took up this opportunity and joined National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. Here he was assigned to the Nutrition Section of its Physiology Division. His job was to look for new vitamins by feeding rats with specialized diet. He did not find that motivating.

Instead, he developed interest in enzymes. In 1946, he got himself transferred to Dr Severo Ochoa's laboratory at New York University to learn more about enzyme purification techniques. Concurrently, he took summer courses at Columbia University to update his knowledge about organic and physical chemistry.

Next in 1947, Kornberg shifted to Washington University School of Medicine at St. Louis. Here he worked for few months with Carl Ferdinand Cori before returning to NIH at Bethesda.

At NIH, he was assigned to organize the Enzymes and Metabolism Section of the Physiology Division, which he did successfully. Subsequently, he became its Medical Director and served in this capacity until 1953.

During this period, Kornberg mainly concentrated on understanding how Adenosine triphosphate, a nucleoside triphosphate used in cells as a coenzyme, was produced from Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide and Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate. This work laid the foundation for his later research on DNA.

In 1953, he moved to Washington University in St. Louis as Professor and Head of the Department of Microbiology and remained there until 1959. Here he continued to work on those enzymes, which were deemed necessary for the creation of DNA.

Finally in 1956, he was able to isolate DNA polymerizing enzyme, which later came to be known as DNA polymerase I. Incidentally, it was the first known polymerase. The discovery won him Nobel Prize three years later.

In 1959, Kornberg moved to the University of Stanford as Professor and Executive Head of the Department of Biochemistry and remained there for rest of his working life. Here, he took initiative in establishing a Department of Genetics, mainly to accommodate another Nobel Laurent Joshua Lederberg.

At Stanford, Kornberg continued his research on DNA biosynthesis. In this project he worked in close collaboration with Mehran Goulian. After years of grueling research, they finally announced their success on December 14, 1967.

Along with his work on DNA synthesis, Kornberg also tried to find out how spores store DNA and generate new cells. Although he earned limited success, he eventually abandoned this project.

Kornberg officially retired from his post in 1988. However, he had never ceased working and maintained an active research Laboratory at the University of Stanford until his death.

From 1991 onwards, Kornberg began to focus on the metabolism of inorganic polyphosphate, at that time, regarded as ‘molecular fossil’. Eventually, he found a variety of significant functions for it. For example, he found that it responds to stresses and stringencies; causes motility and virulence in some of the major pathogens.

In addition to his research work, Kornberg pursued teaching career with equal enthusiasm. Many of his students later went on to become internationally famous scientists and earned established awards.

He also p ublished several papers. His books include‘Enzymatic Synthesis of DNA (1961); DNA Synthesis, (1974); ‘DNA Replication’, (1980); ‘For the Love of Enzymes: The Odyssey of a Biochemist’ (1989); DNA Replication (2nd Edition) with Tania A. Baker (1992) and ‘The Golden Helix: Inside Biotech Ventures’ (2002).

Major Works

Kornberg is best remembered for his work on deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) polymerase. In 1956, he identified DNA Polymerase I (or Pol I) in the intestinal bacterium E coli and recognized it as an essential enzyme for replication, repair and rearrangements of DNA.

He also showed how a single strand of DNA formed new strands of nucleotides and proved that DNA had a double helix structure, as theorized by earlier scientists. This discovery helped to start a biotechnology revolution, which had far reaching consequences.

Synthesis of artificial DNA, which was at the same time biologically active, was another of Kornberg’s major projects. The work not only helped in future studies of genetics, but also helped to provide cures to hereditary diseases and control viral infections.

Award & Achievements

In 1959, Kornberg received the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine for his “discovery of the mechanisms in the biological synthesis of ribonucleic acid and deoxyribonucleic acid". He shared the prize with Dr Severo Ochoa, who had been working on the same topic at the New York University College of Medicine.

Prior to that, Kornberg had received Paul-Lewis Award in Enzyme Chemistry from American Chemical Society in 1951.

In 1968, he received the Scientific Achievement Award of the American Medical Association, the Lucy Wortham James Award of the Society of Medical Oncology and the Borden Award in the Medical Sciences of the Association of American Medical Colleges.

In addition, he had received National Medal of Science in 1979, Cosmos Club Award and Gairdner Foundation Award in 1995.

He was also elected a Fellow of Royal Society. In addition, he was also a member of the National Academy of Sciences and American Philosophical Society. He received innumerable honorary degrees from many established institutions.

Personal Life & Legacy

On November 21, 1943, Kornberg married Sylvy Ruth Levy. She was also a noted biochemist and worked closely with him in the discovery of DNA Polymerase I. Unfortunately, she did not get any recognition for her contribution. She died in 1986, survived by Kornberg and their three sons.

Their eldest son, Roger David Kornberg is a Professor of Structural Biology at the University of Stanford and a Nobel Laureate. In 2006, he received the Nobel Prize for discovering how genetic information from DNA is copied to RNA.

Their second son, Thomas B. Kornberg, is a professor at the University of California, San Francisco and noted for his discovery of DNA polymerase II and III (1970). Their youngest son, Kenneth Andrew Kornberg, is an architect specializing in the design of biomedical and biotechnology laboratories.

Two years after the death of his first wife, Kornberg tied the knot for the second time and in 1988, married Charlene Walsh Levering, who also predeceased him in 1995. In December 1998, he married Carolyn Frey Dixon. They remained married till his death in 2007.

Kornberg died on 26 October, 2007 in Stanford of respiratory failure. He was survived by his third wife Carolyn and three sons.

Many of his children (his students and postdoctoral fellows) and grandchildren (their students) turned out to be intellectuals. Together, they are referred as ‘The Kornberg’s School of Biochemistry’.

// Famous Scientists

Arthur Kornberg awards

YearNameAward

Other

1951
National Medal of Science 1979
Gairdner Foundation Award 1995
Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 1959
Fellow of the Royal Society
Paul-Lewis Award in Enzyme Chemistry

Arthur Kornberg biography timelines

  • // 3rd Mar 1918
    Arthur Kornberg was born on March 3, 1918 in Brooklyn, New York City. His parents, Joseph and Lena (née Katz) Kornberg, were Jewish emigrants from Austrian Galicia, now part of Poland.
  • // 1933
    An exceptionally bright student from the start, Arthur studied at Abraham Lincoln High School at Brooklyn, graduating from there in 1933. Upon receiving a scholarship he next enrolled in premedical course at City College, New York with biology and chemistry as his major.
  • // 1937 To 1941
    He received his B. Sc. degree in 1937. He then joined University of Rochester Medical Center for his medical degree and received his MD in 1941. Here he began to develop interest in medical research.
  • // 1941 To 1942
    Upon receiving his medical degree in 1941, Kornberg entered Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester for his internship, and completed the same in 1942. Subsequently, he joined the United States Coast Guard as a Lieutenant, serving as a ship's doctor, as part of his military service.
  • // 1942
    In 1942, he published the result of his above mentioned survey. Titled, ‘The Occurrence of Jaundice in an Otherwise Normal Medical Student’, it caught the attention of Rolla Dyer, the Director of National Institute of Health, who invited him to join his research team at the Nutritional Laboratory.
  • // 21st Nov 1943 To 1986
    On November 21, 1943, Kornberg married Sylvy Ruth Levy. She was also a noted biochemist and worked closely with him in the discovery of DNA Polymerase I. Unfortunately, she did not get any recognition for her contribution. She died in 1986, survived by Kornberg and their three sons.
  • // 1946
    Instead, he developed interest in enzymes. In 1946, he got himself transferred to Dr Severo Ochoa's laboratory at New York University to learn more about enzyme purification techniques. Concurrently, he took summer courses at Columbia University to update his knowledge about organic and physical chemistry.
  • // 1947
    Next in 1947, Kornberg shifted to Washington University School of Medicine at St. Louis. Here he worked for few months with Carl Ferdinand Cori before returning to NIH at Bethesda.
  • // 1951
    Prior to that, Kornberg had received Paul-Lewis Award in Enzyme Chemistry from American Chemical Society in 1951.
  • // 1953
    At NIH, he was assigned to organize the Enzymes and Metabolism Section of the Physiology Division, which he did successfully. Subsequently, he became its Medical Director and served in this capacity until 1953.
  • // 1953 To 1959
    In 1953, he moved to Washington University in St. Louis as Professor and Head of the Department of Microbiology and remained there until 1959. Here he continued to work on those enzymes, which were deemed necessary for the creation of DNA.
  • // 1956
    Finally in 1956, he was able to isolate DNA polymerizing enzyme, which later came to be known as DNA polymerase I. Incidentally, it was the first known polymerase. The discovery won him Nobel Prize three years later.
  • // 1956
    Kornberg is best remembered for his work on deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) polymerase. In 1956, he identified DNA Polymerase I (or Pol I) in the intestinal bacterium E coli and recognized it as an essential enzyme for replication, repair and rearrangements of DNA.
  • // 1959
    In 1959, Kornberg moved to the University of Stanford as Professor and Executive Head of the Department of Biochemistry and remained there for rest of his working life. Here, he took initiative in establishing a Department of Genetics, mainly to accommodate another Nobel Laurent Joshua Lederberg.
  • // 1959
    In 1959, Kornberg received the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine for his “discovery of the mechanisms in the biological synthesis of ribonucleic acid and deoxyribonucleic acid". He shared the prize with Dr Severo Ochoa, who had been working on the same topic at the New York University College of Medicine.
  • // 14th Dec 1967
    At Stanford, Kornberg continued his research on DNA biosynthesis. In this project he worked in close collaboration with Mehran Goulian. After years of grueling research, they finally announced their success on December 14, 1967.
  • // 1968
    In 1968, he received the Scientific Achievement Award of the American Medical Association, the Lucy Wortham James Award of the Society of Medical Oncology and the Borden Award in the Medical Sciences of the Association of American Medical Colleges.
  • // 1970
    Their second son, Thomas B. Kornberg, is a professor at the University of California, San Francisco and noted for his discovery of DNA polymerase II and III (1970). Their youngest son, Kenneth Andrew Kornberg, is an architect specializing in the design of biomedical and biotechnology laboratories.
  • // 1979 To 1995
    In addition, he had received National Medal of Science in 1979, Cosmos Club Award and Gairdner Foundation Award in 1995.
  • // 1988
    Kornberg officially retired from his post in 1988. However, he had never ceased working and maintained an active research Laboratory at the University of Stanford until his death.
  • // 1991
    From 1991 onwards, Kornberg began to focus on the metabolism of inorganic polyphosphate, at that time, regarded as ‘molecular fossil’. Eventually, he found a variety of significant functions for it. For example, he found that it responds to stresses and stringencies; causes motility and virulence in some of the major pathogens.
  • // 2006
    Their eldest son, Roger David Kornberg is a Professor of Structural Biology at the University of Stanford and a Nobel Laureate. In 2006, he received the Nobel Prize for discovering how genetic information from DNA is copied to RNA.
  • // 26th Oct 2007
    Kornberg died on 26 October, 2007 in Stanford of respiratory failure. He was survived by his third wife Carolyn and three sons.

// Famous American

Arthur Kornberg's FAQ

  • What is Arthur Kornberg birthday?

    Arthur Kornberg was born at 1918-03-03

  • When was Arthur Kornberg died?

    Arthur Kornberg was died at 2007-10-26

  • Where was Arthur Kornberg died?

    Arthur Kornberg was died in Stanford, United States

  • Which age was Arthur Kornberg died?

    Arthur Kornberg was died at age 89

  • Where is Arthur Kornberg's birth place?

    Arthur Kornberg was born in New York City, United States

  • What is Arthur Kornberg nationalities?

    Arthur Kornberg's nationalities is American

  • Who is Arthur Kornberg spouses?

    Arthur Kornberg's spouses is Carolyn Frey Dixon (1998–2007; his death), Charlene Walsh Levering (1988–1995; her death), Sylvy Ruth Levy (1943–1986; her death; 3 children)

  • Who is Arthur Kornberg's father?

    Arthur Kornberg's father is Joseph

  • Who is Arthur Kornberg's mother?

    Arthur Kornberg's mother is Lena (née Katz) Kornberg

  • What is Arthur Kornberg's sun sign?

    Arthur Kornberg is Pisces

  • How famous is Arthur Kornberg?

    Arthur Kornberg is famouse as Biochemist