Paul Berg: Nobel Prize in
by Seymour “Sy” Brody
Paul Berg is an American Jewish Recipient of the Nobel Prize for Chemistry, in 1980, for his fundamental studies of the biochemistry of nucleic acids with particular regard to recombinant-DNA. He shared half of the prize with Walter Gilbert and Frederick Sanger.
Paul Berg was born in Brooklyn on June 30, 1926. He was the son of Sara and Harry Berg, who were Jewish. He graduated from Abraham Lincoln High School, 1943, and received his B.S. in biochemistry from Pennsylvania State University in 1948.
He married Mildred Levy in 1947 and they had one son. After completing a tour of duty in the Navy, he continued his studies.
He earned his Ph.D. at Western Reserve University, in 1952.
After graduation, he pursued further studies at the Institute of Cytophysiology in Copenhagen, Denmark.
He was a Professor of Microbiology at Washington University, St. Louis, (1955-1959). Berg went to Stanford University as a Professor of Biochemistry (1959-)
In his study of the actions of isolated genes, Berg evolved methods for splitting DNA molecules at selected sites and attaching segments of the molecule to the DNA of a virus, which could then enter bacterial or animal cells.
Paul Berg received many other honors and Awards:
• Eli Lilly Award in Biochemistry, 1959
• California Scientist of the Year, 1963,
• Henry J. Kaiser Award for Excellence in Teaching at Stanford University, 1969 and 1972
• National Academy of Sciences, 1966
• Institute of Medicine, 1974
• President, American Society of Biological Chemists, 1975
• Honorary Doctor, University of Rochester and Yale University, 1978
• Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award, 1980
• Foreign Member, French Academy of Science, 1981
• USA-National Medal of Science, 1983
• Member of American Philosophical Society, 1983
• Honorary Doctor of Science, Washington University, St. Louis, 1986
• National Library Science Medal, 1986
• Honorary Doctor of Science, Oregon State University, 1989
• Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science, 1991
• Foreign Member, Royal Society, London, 1992
• Honorary Doctor of Science, Penn State, 1995
• Member, Pontifical Academy of Sciences, 1996
• Sustained Leadership of National Level, Research America, 2003
Paul Berg is currently living in California.
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