Roger D. Kornberg, professor of structural biology at Stanford University School of Medicine, will receive the 2001 Robert A. Welch Award in Chemistry in October in recognition of his contributions to the understanding of DNA transcription. The $300,000 award, given annually by the Welch Foundation of Houston since 1972, honors lifetime achievements in basic chemical research. Kornberg, 54, was the first to describe the nucleosomethe basic unit of the chromosomeand establish its role in transcribing the chromosomes DNA into an RNA copy used to direct the synthesis of new protein. In addition, he discovered the 20-protein mediator complex that regulates transcription. Most recently, he determined the structure of RNA polymerase II, the enzyme that unwinds DNA and makes the RNA transcript (C&EN, May 1, 2000, page 15). Kornberg received a Ph.D. degree in chemistry from Stanford in 1972. He was a professor of biological chemistry at Harvard Medical School from 1976 to 1978, when he took up his present position at Stanford. Kornbergs many honors include the Eli Lilly Award, the Passano Award, the Ciba-Drew Award, the Harvey Prize, and the Gairdner International Award.
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