Roger D. Kornberg, Ph. D., Winzer Professor of Structural Biology at Stanford University is cited for his discoveries, made over the last three decades, which revealed the basis of eukaryotic gene regulation.
Ever since the description of the structure of DNA and the discovery that messenger RNA transmitted the information from DNA to produce proteins, the regulation of the synthesis of messenger RNA has become a centerpiece of study in biology. A great deal of our understanding of the regulation of gene expression occurs at the level of transcriptional control. The Kornberg research group has contributed to this body of knowledge in several areas: 1) the description of the correct model for the DNA template of chromatin, 2) the isolation purification and subunit structure of RNA polymerase II from yeast, 3) the isolation, purification and subunit structure of transcriptional factors and transcriptional co-activators, 4) the reproduction of transcriptional gene regulation in vitro, and 5) the elucidation of the three dimensional structure of these protein complexes and the visualization of actively transcribing polymerase molecules. This tour de force effort, utilizing an unprecedented combination of biochemical, genetic and biophysical approaches, led to the elucidation of the largest protein structure so far solved in multiple states of activity. The work of Dr. Kornberg and his associates represented a watershed in the molecular understanding of eukaryotic gene expression, which laid the basis for future studies of transcription initiation and regulatory mechanisms.
Dr. Kornberg received his Bachelor of Science degree from Harvard University and his Ph.D. degree from Stanford University. He was a member of the Scientific Staff of the Division of Cell Biology in the MRC Laboratory at Cambridge, England and on the faculty of the Department of Biological Chemistry at Harvard, before becoming a Professor of Structural Biology at Stanford University. He has received several honors, including the Passano Award, the Gairdner International Award and Le Grand Prix Charles-Leopold Mayer, Academie des Sciences, France. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.