Roger D. Kornberg: A Nobel
by Seymour “Sy” Brody
Roger D. Kornberg is an American Jewish recipient of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, 2006, for his studies of the molecular basis of eukaryotic transcription.
Thirty-seven years ago, his father, Arthur Kornberg won the Nobel Prize in Medicine, in 1959. This is the sixth instance of a son also being awarded the Nobel Prize. Both Kornbergs work for University of Stanford Medical School.
Roger Kornberg was born on April 24, 1947, in St. Louis, Missouri. His mother, Sylvy Levy, and his brother, Tom, were biochemists. Tom worked in the laboratories of the University of San Francisco. His other brother, Ken was an architect.
Roger’s parents were orthodox, but, they raised their children in a secular environment. The entire family had strong Jewish and pro-Israel feelings. They supported the Jewish federation in their area and other Jewish causes.
Roger married an Israeli scientist, Yahli Lorch, who was a Stanford University professor of structural biology. They reside in their Jerusalem apartment about one-half a year and he does his work with Stanford via the internet. He has been a visiting professor at Hebrew University of Jerusalem for more than 20 years.
Roger Kornberg received his bachelor’s degree from Harvard University, in 1967 and his Ph.D. from Stanford, in 1972. He conducted pot-doctoral research at the Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, England. He became an assistant professor in Harvard Medical School, in 1976. He returned to Sanford as a professor in the structural biology department, 1978. He was the chairman of this department, 1984-1992. He is the Mrs. George A. Winzer Professor in Medicine at Stanford University School of Medicine.
He has received the following awards:
• Harvey Prize from the Technion, 1997
• ASBMB-Merick Award, 2002
• Pasarow Award in Cancer Research, 2002
• Le Grand Prix Charles-Leopold Mayer, 2002
• General Motors Cancer Research Foundation’s Alfred P. Sloan Jr. Prize. 2005
• Nobel Prize in Chemistry, 2006
Roger Kornberg is currently working at Stanford University and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
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