Marshall Nirenberg dies

Marshall W. Nirenberg, who received the 1968 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his work on the language of codons and how DNA is translated into proteins, succumbed to cancer at age 82 in his New York home last week (January 15), after several months of illness. Marshall Nirenberg performing anexperiment, circa 1962Image: Wikimedia commons, MacVicar,National Institutes of Health"We feel like [we are] losing our close friend who has created the base of the current molecular biology and t

Jef Akst
Jef Akst

Jef Akst is managing editor of The Scientist, where she started as an intern in 2009 after receiving a master’s degree from Indiana University in April 2009 studying the mating behavior of seahorses.

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Jan 18, 2010
Marshall W. Nirenberg, who received the 1968 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his work on the language of codons and how DNA is translated into proteins, succumbed to cancer at age 82 in his New York home last week (January 15), after several months of illness.
Marshall Nirenberg performing an
experiment, circa 1962

Image: Wikimedia commons, MacVicar,
National Institutes of Health
"We feel like [we are] losing our close friend who has created the base of the current molecular biology and translational medicine," Akira Kaji of the University of Pennsylvania and Hideko Kaji of Thomas Jefferson University, who both studied protein synthesis at the time of Nirenberg's key discovery and interacted with many researchers in his lab group, wrote in an email to The Scientist. "In our opinion, his contribution is one of the greatest among Nobel laureate[s] who received the prize in physiology and medicine. He...
TRENDS in Biochemical SciencesThe ScientistCorrection: The original version of this story stated that Nirenberg was the first federal employee to win a Nobel Prize. In fact, Nirenberg is the first non-presidential federal employee to do so (Theodore Roosevelt won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1906) and the first federal employee to win the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. regrets the error.



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