Marshall W. Nirenberg Biography
(Biochemist and Geneticist)
Birthday: April 10, 1927 (Aries)
Born In: Brooklyn, New York City, New York, United States
Marshall W. Nirenberg was an American biochemist and geneticist who shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1968 with Har Gobind Khorana and Robert W. Holley for "breaking the genetic code." He also won several other prestigious awards for his contributions to genetics and biochemistry. Born in New York City, he developed an early interest in biology. As a young man he attended the University of Florida at Gainesville from where he earned his B. Sc. and M. Sc. degrees in Zoology before working for his Ph. D. degree from the Department of Biological Chemistry at the University of Michigan. He eventually became a research biochemist at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) where he initially focused his research on DNA, RNA and protein. In collaboration with H. Matthaei he demonstrated that messenger RNA is required for protein synthesis and that synthetic messenger RNA preparations can be used to decipher various aspects of the genetic code. His groundbreaking research led to his appointment as the head of the Section of Biochemical Genetics at the National Heart Institute, a position he served in until his death decades later. His later research focused on neuroscience, neural development, and the homeobox genes.