India-born American biochemist Har Gobind Khorana died of natural causes in Concord, Massachusetts, USA on Wednesday. He was 89.
Winner of the 1968 Nobel Prize in Medicine, Khorana was born in the undivided Punjab, and obtained an M.Sc from Panjab University, Lahore, before going to the University of Liverpool for a Ph.D under a govt of India fellowship in 1945. Khorana devoted much of his scientific career to unravelling the genetic code and the mechanisms by which nucleic acids give rise to proteins. He had joined the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1970 and dedicated time to the field of genetics. He was Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Biology and Chemistry emeritus at MIT.
A Punjabi, Khorana was born in 1922 in Raipur village, now in Pakistan. According to the MIT News Office, upon winning the Nobel Prize, Khorana wrote in an autobiographical note: “Although poor, my father was dedicated to educating his children and we were practically the only literate family in the village inhabited by about 100 people.” He is survived by his daughter Julia and son Dave.