Past Stetten Lectures
10/29/2008 3:00 PM
10/29/2008 4:00 PM
Stetten Lecture videocast
Speaker: Roger D. Kornberg, Ph.D.2006 Nobel LaureateMrs. George A. Winzer Professor in MedicineProfessor, Department of Structural BiologyStanford University School of Medicine
At age 12, Roger Kornberg watched his father, Arthur Kornberg, receive the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine for his elucidation of the mechanism of DNA replication. History repeated itself 47 years later, when father and son returned to Stockholm for another Nobel Prize ceremony. The younger Kornberg was honored with the 2006 chemistry prize for his studies illuminating the mechanism and regulation of eukaryotic gene transcription, the next step in the central dogma of molecular biology.
For 30 years, Kornberg has pursued a complete understanding of the process of transcription, combining innovative structural studies with a deep comprehension of the biochemistry involved. As a result of his perseverance, Kornberg was able to identify the components and structural configuration of the large protein assembly that carries out transcription. In yeast and mammalian cells, these components include RNA polymerase II, an array of transcription factors, and Mediator, a multiprotein complex Kornberg discovered that conveys regulatory information from enhancers to the promoter region, where the transcription complex binds.
Kornberg has been a pioneer in developing new technologies to meet the significant challenges of understanding the structural basis of transcription. His solution of the three-dimensional structure of RNA polymerase in 2001 represented one of the most complex crystallographic structures ever determined. Since then, Kornberg and his research team have gone on to create highly detailed snapshots of transcription in action.
Kornberg has been a professor of structural biology at Stanford University School of Medicine since 1978. He earned a B.S. in chemistry from Harvard University in 1967 and a Ph.D. in chemistry from Stanford University in 1972. In his doctoral research, Kornberg studied how lipids diffuse in cell membranes. He was a postdoctoral fellow and a member of the scientific staff at the Medical Research Council’s Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, England, where he discovered the nucleosome, the basic unit of DNA packaging in chromosomes.
Kornberg was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1993. His many honors include the 2001 Welch Award in Chemistry, the highest award in the discipline in the United States, and the 2002 Charles Léopold Mayer Prize from the French Academy of Sciences, France’s highest award in the biomedical sciences. Kornberg was the sole recipient of the 2006 Nobel Prize in chemistry. His closest collaborator is his wife, Yahli Lorch, an associate professor of structural biology at Stanford University School of Medicine. Kornberg is an author of more than 220 research papers.
NIGMS has supported Kornberg’s research since 1986, including through a MERIT award, which provides long-term support to investigators with a strong record of scientific achievement.
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