The Nobel Prize for Chemistry 2006 has gone to Roger D. Kornberg Stanford University for his studies of the molecular basis of eukaryotic transcription.
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Dr Finn Werner, Principle Investigator and Lecturer, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, UCL, said:
“Brilliant – they really deserve it! Roger Kornberg’s effort to solve the structure of one of the top ten most important enzymes of all times has been a genuine tour de force. That lab spent two decades pioneering the techniques required to obtain the RNA polymerase II structure, and thereby generated enough information to inspire work in our field for the next two decades!”
Professor Julian Downward, Associate Director, Cancer Research UK London Research Institute, said:
“Roger Kornberg has been contributing fundamental insights into the mechanism of how genes are expressed over the last three decades. Most recently this work has culminated in a fantastic tour de force, with the three dimensional structures of the complexes involved in gene transcription being determined at atomic resolution. These are much the largest structures ever to have been resolved at this level of detail. The award of the Nobel Prize for Chemistry is a very fitting reward for this immensely important work that has radically changed our view of how genetic blueprints are read to construct living organisms.”
Dr Vincent Cuncliffe, Lecturer in Biomedical Science, Sheffield University, said:
“The information contained within genes is used by cells to generate all biological form and function. Understanding how cells physically gain access to genetic information, by the process known as transcription, has been a long-term challenge for many biologists. Professor Kornberg’s fascinating work has provided many powerful insights into the structure and operation of the molecular machinery that is used by cells for gene transcription. This knowledge greatly advances our understanding of the molecular basis of normal biological processes such as development. In addition, defects in the transcription machinery can cause diseases such as cancer and neurological disorders, so Professor Kornberg’s work could underpin the development of new treatments for major illnesses.”
Dr Peter Fraser, Head of Laboratory of Chromatin and Gene Expression at the Babraham Institute and Senior Fellow of the Medical Research Council, said:
“If the secret of life could be likened to a machine, the process of transcription would be a central cog in the machinery that drives all others. Kornberg has given us an extraordinarily detailed view of this machine, which is essential for all life.”