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Chandigarh mourns death of Nobel laureate Hargobind Khorana

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times  Chandigarh, November 11, 2011
First Published: 22:11 IST(11/11/2011) | Last Updated: 22:37 IST(11/11/2011)

Panjab University alumnus, Hargobind Khorana, the biochemist who received the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine passed away in Concord, Massachusetts, US, on November 9. He was 89.

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His daughter Julia and son Dave survive him.

Khorana was born in Raipur village of Punjab, now in Pakistan, and did his B.Sc from Punjab University, Lahore, in 1943, and M.Sc also from the same university in 1945.

Khorana was awarded the Government of India Fellowship that enabled him to go to England where he studied for his PhD at the University of Liverpool.

In 1970, Khorana became the Alfred Sloan Professor of Biology and Chemistry at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he worked until his retirement in 2007.

Scientists speak

The Nobel for Khorana came in the 1960s. Those were the days when great institutes like the PGI were being built. His path-breaking work and subsequent Nobel Prize brought a new hope to the youth like me. An Indian-trained scientist matching international standards in scientific research was rare.
Dr BNS Walia, former director, PGI

His main contribution was on the genetic code, which was a major breakthrough in science. The work he did was the most difficult and his research became basis for further scientific research. He trained in Punjab. Punjab takes pride in having produced a great scientist. It is a big loss for the country. He inspired several generations to pursue science as career.
Dr Narayanasami Sathyamurthy, director, Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Mohali

"It is a great loss to the country as he was a learned man with the Nobel Prize that inspired the university much. His influence on the students is immense and he will continue to remain in our hearts," said Pam Rajpoot, retired professor, department of political science, Panjab University, and Khorana's junior.

MM Puri, former vice-chancellor, Panjab University, while condoling the death said, "I saw him way back in 1949. I vaguely remember he was senior to me. He was the role model for many and his name inspired many students. As a scientist he broke new ground and paved way for many to follow."

Expressing shock over his demise, RP Bhambha, former vice-chancellor, Panjab University, said, "He was an influential senior and his association with the university is worth mentioning. I met him way back in 1951 in London and we discussed many things. It is a loss to the country as he was truly a great man."

He was the only Panjab University alumnus to have received the Nobel Prize. He shared the prize in physiology in 1968 with Marshall W Nirenberg and Robert W Holley for research that helped to show how nucleotides in nucleic acids, which carry the genetic code of the cell, control the cell's synthesis of proteins.

Along with the Nobel, he also received the Gairdner Foundation International Award, the Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize and the Albert Lasker Award for Basic Medical Research.

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