Biochemist Arthur Kornberg: A Lifelong Love Affair With Enzymes

Kornberg looks back on some of his earliest and most important years as a scientist and his multiple roles of discoverer, teacher, author, and administrator.

Arthur Kornberg
Sep 3, 1989

[Editor’s note: While best known for his discovery of DNA polymerase and his subsequent synthesis of DNA molecules, Nobel Prize-winning biochemist Arthur Kornberg considers himself first and foremost a researcher of enzymes. Over the course of his career, which now spans a half-century, he has continued to pursue the study of these catalytics as other biochemist s—much to his chagrin—have chosen to ignore them. “Without knowing and respecting enzymes, better still loving them, answers to the most basic questions of growth, development, and disease will remain beyond reach,” he has said.

Today, at the age of 71, Kornberg continues his enzyme research at Stanford University, where he has been a professor and chairman of the biochemistry department. He also continues to lecture; when contacted by The Scientist at Stanford !ast month, he was about to depart for Seoul, South Korea, where he was to make a presentation to the Congress...