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Chemistry Nobel goes to Stanford DNA man

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A Stanford structural biologist has followed in his father's footsteps by bagging a Nobel Prize. Roger Kornberg was awarded the medal today for his work revealing some of the molecular jiggery-pokery which turns information held by DNA into functioning proteins.

In a cell, DNA is first copied to close chemical cousin RNA, which acts as a messenger to get the DNA's bidding done. Roger Kornberg did the hardcore chemistry required to find out how the transcribing mechanism actually works on a molecular level, which in turn has enabled scientists and medical researchers to interfere with it.

Reuters reports Kornberg said he was "stunned" at the honour.

The Kornbergs are something of a dynasty in molecular genetics. Roger's brother Thomas discovered DNA polymerase II and III, which are the "molecular machines" which do DNA copying and transcribing.

Daddy Kornberg Arthur won the Nobel 47 years ago for isolating the first DNA polymerase. Roger Kornberg's award makes them the sixth father and son to have won a Nobel prize.

The chemistry Nobel is the last of this year's science prizes. ®

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