Arthur Kornberg: Nobel
Prize in Physiology or Medicine
by Seymour “Sy” Brody
Arthur Kornberg is an American Jewish recipient of the Nobel Prize, in 1959, which he shared with Severo Ochoa for their discovery of the mechanisms in the biological synthesis of ribonucleic acid and deoxyribonucleic acid.
He was born on March 3, 1918, in New York City. His parents Lena Rachel Katz and Joseph Aaron Kornberg, who was a sewing machine operator. They stressed the need for their children to have a good education.
He was an outstanding student in grade school and at Abraham Lincoln High School. He had received a perfect grade of 100 in the New York State Regents Examination. He graduated high school when he was fifteen years old.
He received a B.S. Degree in Biology and Chemistry at City College of New York, in 1937. He struggled financially to get his M.D. Degree from the University of Rochester, in 1941
After graduation, he took an internship with the Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester, New York. During World War II, he joined the Coast Guard and was commissioned as a lieutenant, serving as a ship’s doctor.
He was married to Sylvy Ruth Levy, who died 1986. They had three sons, Roger, had received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, in 2006. They were the sixth parent and son to receive the Nobel Prize. The other two sons: Thomas is a Professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics and Kenneth is an architect.
Kornberg became fascinated with enzymes and went to Dr. Severo Ochoa’s laboratory in New York. There he worked on understanding of ATP production from NAD and NADP. Which led to his work on how DNA is built up from simpler molecules.
He continued his formal education and he received an LL.D. from City College of New York, 1860, followed by a Doctor of Science at the University of Rochester, 1959.
He received many honors and awards:
• Nobel Prize with Dr. Severo Ochoa, 1959
• L.H.D. Degree from Yeshiva University, 1962
• President of American Society of Biological Chemists, 1965
• Foreign Member of the Royal Society, London, 1970
• National Medal of Science, United States,1979
• Gairdner Foundation Award, 1995
• Arthur Kronberg Medical Research Building, University of Rochester, 1999
• Honorary Member of the Japan Society, 2004
Arthur Kronberg has published several books; “For the Love of Enzymes,” “The Odyssey of a Biochemist” and “The Golden Helix: Inside Biotech Ventures.
Dr. Arthur Kornberg died on October 26, 2007, in Stanford, California.
For additional information, contact
Special Collections and Archives
S.E. Wimberly Library
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Last updated 05 November 2007