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News

Interdisciplinary research led to the nobel prize for chemistry

Swedish Research Council : 25 October, 2006  (Technical Article)
This year's Nobel Prize for chemistry goes to Roger Kornberg, USA. He has studied how the genetic information stored in the genes is copied so that the body can use it. This is a central process for all life, if it ceases, the organism will soon die.
This year's Nobel Prize for chemistry goes to Roger Kornberg, USA. He has studied how the genetic information stored in the genes is copied so that the body can use it. This is a central process for all life, if it ceases, the organism will soon die.

Roger Kornberg has succeeded in creating crystallographic images of the transcription mechanism in a eucaryot cell at molecule level. The reason given by the AcademyofScience's for their decision to award the prize to Roger Kornberg was 'for his study of the molecular basis for eucaryot transcription'.

To put it simply, transcription is the cells' process for copying information stored in the genes, and the word 'eucaryot' means that it concerns systems that are made up of cells which have a nucleus where the genes are stored.

Transcription is needed for all life, which is clearly proved by the effect of white fly agaric mushrooms. Their toxin destroys the special enzyme which is a key factor in transcription, and causes internal organs to be destroyed if the toxin is ingested.

'It's interesting to note and also characteristic of the times that the price-winning research is spread over many research disciplines. There are clear links to this year's prize for medicine, and moreover to research manifestly involving chemistry, biology and medicine. Physics also has been an important ingredient in the development of instrumentation for the fantastically detailed structural determination at molecular level which has been a central contribution of Kornberg's research,' says Arne Johansson, chief secretary to the Senior Adviser for Science and Technology at the Swedish Research Council.

According to Arne Johansson, Kornberg's work is also a shining example of how important long-term support is for basic research, since his endeavours can be seen as a life's work where long periods have been devoted to building it up and have given few visible, publishable results.
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