Born into a poor family in British India, Har Gobind Khorana studied on scholarships and later bagged a seat at the University of Liverpool and thus moved to England. The renowned biochemist ended up winning the Nobel Prize for his research on how nucleotides in nucleic acids control protein synthesis.
Isaac Asimov was an American writer. Best known for his science fiction works, Asimov was regarded as one of the Big Three writers along with Arthur C. Clarke and Robert A. Heinlein. Asimov is credited with influencing most sci-fi writers since the 1950s. Nobel Prize winner Paul Krugman stated that one of Asimov's works inspired him to take up Economics.
Only person to win two unshared Nobel Prizes, Linus Carl Pauling was an American theoretical physical chemist, who received the 1954 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his work on nature of chemical bond and 1962 Nobel Prize for Peace for his efforts to stop nuclear weapon testing. Also a prolific writer and educator, he has published 1,200 books and papers.
American biochemist Jennifer Doudna of the University of California, Berkeley, who has made fundamental contributions in biochemistry and genetics, is best-known for her pioneering work in CRISPR gene-editing. Doudna and Emmanuelle Charpentier received the 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for developing a method for genome editing through CRISPR, marking them as the only two women to share science Nobel ever.
The first woman to command the International Space Station, NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson was born to farmers and decided to become an astronaut after watching the moon landing on TV. She also boasts of a PhD in biochemistry and has been a researcher and educator of biochemistry and genetic engineering.
Nobel Prize-winning neurobiologist Eric Kandel is known for his research on the role of synapses in memory and learning. An Austrian Jew, he left his country with his family and moved to the U.S. in the wake of anti-Semitism. A doctor, specializing in psychiatry, he later taught at Columbia University.
Erwin Chargaff was a biochemist and writer who worked at the Columbia University medical school as a professor of biochemistry. He is credited with discovering the Chargaff's rules, which played an important role in the discovery of the DNA's double helix structure. Also a prolific writer, Erwin Chargaff authored several books, including an autobiography.
The daughter of Jewish immigrants in New York, Gertrude B. Elion excelled in chemistry at Hunter College, where she studied for free, but was initially unable to find a job due to gender bias. The renowned biochemist and pharmacologist later won a Nobel and became a pioneer in medical research.
Austro-Hungarian-American biochemist Gerty Cori is best-known for discovering the course of catalytic conversion of glycogen with her husband Carl Ferdinand Cori for which they jointly won the 1947 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. With this Gerty became the third woman to win a Nobel in science and the first to win it in this category.
A pioneer of psychedelic drug synthesis, Alexander Shulgin came to be known as The Godfather of Ecstasy, for reinventing the drug MDMA, or ecstasy, for medical use. The Harvard drop-out, who later studied psychiatry and pharmacology, would often experiment his newly invented drugs on himself, his wife, and his friends.
Born in Egypt, Rashad Khalifa later moved to the U.S., where he earned a PhD in biochemistry. Part of the USI and a supporter of the Quranist movement, he was found stabbed multiple times in a mosque in Arizona. It was later revealed that Sunni extremists had killed him.
Co-recipient of the 2008 Nobel Prize for Chemistry for discovery and development of the green fluorescent protein, Roger Yonchien Tsien began working on the subject in collaboration with Osamu Shimomura and Martin Chalfie while serving as professor of chemistry and biochemistry at University of California. Also a pioneer of calcium imaging, he is known for developing various dyes including Fura-2.
Marie Maynard Daly was the first Black lady to earn a doctoral degree in chemistry in the U.S. She was inspired by her father, who had to drop out of Cornell due to lack of funds. A pioneer of biochemistry, Daly later introduced a scholarship for African-American students at Queens College.
Apart from being a renowned biochemist, Duane Gish was also a World War II veteran and a prominent Creationist. He taught at Cornell and penned iconic books such as Evolution: The Fossils Say No! He was also known for his fiery debates and had headed the Institute for Creation Research.
Nobel Prize-winning biochemist Paul Berg is best known for his research on recombinant DNA techniques. The Stanford professor was born to Russian Jewish immigrants in New York and is a Penn State alumnus. He has also won the National Medal of Science, among other awards.
The son of Russian Jewish immigrants, Melvin Calvin earned scholarships to fund his studies and eventually earned a PhD in chemistry from the University of Minnesota. The University of California, Berkeley professor later won a Nobel for co-discovering the Calvin cycle, which explained the chemical pathways of photosynthesis.
Nobel Prize-winning biochemist and doctor Arthur Kornberg is best remembered for his research on DNA synthesis. Born to Jewish immigrants in New York, Kornberg assisted his father at his hardware shop as a child. He had also been a ship doctor for the U.S. Coast Guard.
Shannon Lucid once held the record for the longest space stay by any woman and by any American. Born in China, to missionaries, she was imprisoned by the Japanese, along with her parents, as an infant. The family then moved to the U.S., where Lucid studied at the University of Oklahoma.
American biochemist and Nobel laureate Marshall W. Nirenberg is best known for his research on solving the genetic code. The son of a Jewish shirtmaker father, Nirenberg showed an early interest in biology. He led the National Heart Institute’s genetics department and was associated with the National Institutes of Health.
The son of an architect, Stanley B. Prusiner earned the nickname "little Genius" for inventing a bug repellent in school. The Nobel Prize-winning biochemist and neurologist is best known for discovering prions, or proteins that cause diseases, and thus suggesting an explanation for the mad cow disease.
Elias Zerhouni was born to a math professor in Algeria and later studied medicine, specializing in radiology, inspired by an uncle. He has been associated with the faculty of the Johns Hopkins University medical school. The former NIH director also developed the existing MRI and CAT scan technologies.
Gregory Goodwin Pincus revolutionized medical science by co-inventing the first oral contraceptive or birth control pill. The Cornell and Harvard alumnus was born to Russian Jewish immigrants and had an IQ of 210. Though he initially studied agriculture, he later focused on the study of hormones, steroids, and fertility.
American molecular biologist and Nobel laureate Walter Gilbert pioneered research on the sequence of nucleotide links in DNA and RNA molecules. The Harvard and Cambridge alumnus later taught at Harvard. He also co-established firms dealing with genetic engineering and pharmaceutical research and was part of the Human Genome Project.
Charles Best made history with his discovery of insulin, along with Sir Frederick Banting, thus paving the path for its use as a treatment for diabetes. He, however, failed to get the 1923 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine, like Banting, as he didn’t receive his medical degree till 1925.
Born into a family of Polish immigrants, Robert Lefkowitz grew up to be a cardiologist and biochemist, and later taught at Duke University. He is best known for his research on the signal-receiving receptor molecules, such as the GPCRs, which eventually won him a Nobel Prize.
Nobel Prize-winning biochemist and Duke University professor Paul L. Modrich was born to a biology teacher and sports coach father. He studied at both MIT and Stanford and did his postdoctoral research at Harvard. He is best known for his discovery of DNA mismatch repair.
David Julius is an American physiologist best known for winning the prestigious Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2021. He won the award alongside Ardem Patapoutian for discovering the receptors for touch and temperature. David Julius is also the recipient of several other awards, such as the Shaw Prize, Gairdner Foundation International Award, and Prince of Asturias Prize.
American chemist Roger D. Kornberg studied at Harvard and Stanford and later taught at both these institutes. His research focuses on transcription, or the process of the conversion of DNA into RNA. Both he and his father have won the Nobel Prize, becoming the sixth father-son duo to achieve the feat.
Nobel laureate Stanley Cohen was born to a Jewish immigrant tailor and initially worked as a bacteriologist. The American biochemist revolutionized science with his research on cellular growth factors, helping later scientists understand the development of cancer cells. He spent most of his career at the Washington and Vanderbilt universities.
German-American neuroscientist Thomas C. Südhof was a gifted musician in his early days, having mastered instruments such as the bassoon. He later won a Nobel Prize for his research on the chemical signaling in neurons, which helped later scientists understand neurological conditions such as autism and schizophrenia.
A Lithuanian Jew, Phoebus Levene moved with his family to the U.S. in the wake of anti-Semitic attacks. While he initially studied medicine, Levene later focused on biochemistry. Known for his path-breaking research on nucleic acids, he worked at the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research for over three decades.
American molecular geneticist Joseph L. Goldstein was born to clothing store owner parents in South Carolina. He ended up winning a Nobel Prize for his research on cholesterol metabolism, which later helped researchers develop statin drugs. He currently chairs the molecular genetics department of the University of Texas.
University of California, Berkeley professor, biochemist, and geneticist Bruce Ames is largely known for his invention of the Ames test, used to test the ability of chemicals to cause mutations, and his studies on cancer and ageing. The Cornell and Caltech alumnus has been associated with the NIAMD, too.
Born to Norwegian immigrants in the U.S., Christian Anfinsen initially excelled in both chemistry and football. His research on the structure of complex proteins and their biological functions earned him a Nobel Prize. He was also associated with the NIH and taught at Johns Hopkins University.
Born in China, to an Austrian-born lawyer, Edmond H. Fischer studied in a Swiss boarding school and also aspired to be a musician. The Nobel Prize-winning biochemist is now best known for his path-breaking research on reversible phosphorylation, which regulates cell protein activity. He also taught at the University of Washington.
Bruce Alberts switched to biophysics at Harvard after getting bored with physical chemistry. He later led the NAS as its president and co-wrote iconic text books such as Molecular Biology of the Cell. Apart from teaching at Princeton and Harvard, he worked to improve science education in schools.
American biophysicist/biochemist and Yale University professor Thomas A. Steitz is best known for his Nobel Prize-winning work on the structure and function of ribosomes. The Harvard alumnus has also worked at molecular biology lab at Cambridge and has co-founded a pharma company that creates antibiotics based on ribosomes.
Czech-American biochemist Carl Ferdinand Cori’s interest in science was not surprising, with him being a zoologist’s son. Along with his wife, Gerty Cori, and Argentine physiologist Bernardo Houssay, Cori won the Nobel Prize for finding out that glycogen is an energy storehouse of the body.
American cell biologist and biochemist James Rothman is best known for his ground-breaking research on cellular vesicles and membrane fusion, which laid the path for further research on immunological and neurological ailments. The Nobel laureate is a Yale and Harvard alumnus and has also taught at many prestigious universities.
American biochemist, analytical chemist, and professor Paul Delos Boyer was the first Utah-born Nobel laureate. His elucidation of enzymatic mechanism underlying synthesis of adenosine triphosphate with John E. Walker led the two to jointly win the 1997 Nobel Prize in Chemistry which they co-received with Jens C. Skou for a separate research of the latter.
American pharmacologist and Nobel laureate Alfred G. Gilman is best remembered for his research on G proteins. Born to a Yale pharmacology professor and author father, he was destined to make it big in science. He also taught at the University of Virginia and other institutes and co-established a biotechnology company.
Nobel Prize-winning biochemist Wendell Meredith Stanley is remembered for his pathbreaking research on viruses. He revealed the molecular structure of viruses by purifying and crystallizing them. He also penned a Pulitzer-nominated book, Chemistry: A Beautiful Thing, and was associated with the Rockefeller Institute and the University of California, Berkeley.
Born in Israel, Arieh Warshel had been part of the Israeli Army before he moved to the U.S. for his PhD at Harvard University. His research on computational enzymology helped him create computer models of chemical reactions and earned him a Nobel Prize. He later established a computational biology institute.
Biochemist and Nobel laureate Robert W. Holley is best known for his research on the genetic code and its impact on protein synthesis. The Cornell alumnus focused on studying RNA after his year-long stint at Caltech in the mid-1950s. He has also worked at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies.
American biochemist Edwin Gerhard Krebs is best-known for collaborating with Edmond H. Fischer in elucidating the way reversible phosphorylation works as a switch in activating proteins and regulating different cellular processes. This key discovery of reversible protein phosphorylation led the two to receive the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1992.
American biochemist and molecular endocrinologist Martin Rodbell is best remembered for his discovery of G-proteins while jointly investigating (with Alfred G. Gilman) stimulation of cells by adrenaline. The two jointly received the 1994 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for discovery of this family of proteins and the role of these proteins in signal transduction in cells.
American pharmacologist and Nobel laureate Robert F. Furchgott revolutionized medical science by discovering that nitric oxide acts as a signal in the cardiovascular system of mammals. The Northwestern University alumnus had begun his career as a Cornell faculty member and was later associated with the SUNY-Brooklyn pharmacology department.