Today, Google Doodle celebrates the 96th birthday of Indian-American biochemist and Nobel laureate Har Gobind Khorana, who chemically synthesized DNA molecules. Though, January 9 is the date of birth in his documents the exact date remains uncertain.
Khorana was born in 1922 in Raipur, which today is in eastern Pakistan. His father Ganpat Rai Khorana worked as a taxation clerk.
Khorana lived in India until 1945 and then moved to England and then started to study for a Ph.D. degree at the University of Liverpool, after which he received a Fellowship award from the Indian government.
In 1966, he became the US’ naturalized citizen and also received the prestigious National Medal of Science award.
Bangalore-based illustrator Rohan Dahotre shared the 1968 Nobel Prize in Physiology or medicine with two colleagues named Robert Holley and Marshall Nirenberg who presented Khorana in the doodle.
His friend Uttam L. RajBhandary, a molecular biology professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said, “Khorana was drawn to solving tough, critical problems.” RajBhandary added, “He was not influenced by its difficulty or the time needed to solve it, as long as it was of fundamental importance.”
RajBhandary expressed him as a modest man who avoided publicity and said he maintained his scientific curiosity until the end. Today’s genetic engineering’s achievement would be impossible without Khorana’s work.
Khorana died of natural causes on November 9, 2011, at the age of 89 in Massachusetts. He is survived by his children Julia and Davel.