Roger Kornberg is a Professor in the Department of Structural Biology at Stanford University. In his doctoral research, he demonstrated the diffusional motions of lipids in membranes, termed flip-flop and lateral diffusion. He was a postdoctoral fellow and member of the scientific staff at the Laboratory of Molecular biology in Cambridge, England from 1972-5, where he discovered the nucleosome, the basic unit of DNA coiling in chromosomes.
He moved to his present position in 1978, where his research has focused on the mechanism and regulation of eukaryotic gene transcription. Kornberg has received many awards, including the 2001 Welch prize, highest award in chemistry in the United States, and the 2002 Leopold Mayer Prize, highest award in biomedical sciences of the French Academy of Sciences, and the Nobel Prize in Chemistry (unshared, 2006). Kornberg’s closest collaborator has been his wife, Dr. Yahli Lorch. They have three children, Guy, Maya, and Gil.
Abstract of His Speech:
"The Expression of Genetic Information"
We seek to understand how genetic information gives rise to living things. Genetic information is packaged more densely than any other form of information storage, and yet it is fully available for expression. Indeed, the packaging itself serves to regulate gene expression. This regulation underlies the development of complex, multicellular organisms, including humans.
Gene expression occurs in two stages. First, the genetic information is read from DNA into a related molecule called RNA, through a process termed transcription. Second, the genetic information is decoded to form protein molecules, in a process known as translation. The first step, transcription, is a focal point of cellular regulation.
Transcription is catalyzed by a giant assembly of proteins called RNA polymerase. We have observed RNA polymerase in action in atomic detail. We have learned how genetic information is read with high precision, and how signals from other cells and from the environment impinge on RNA polymerase to regulate transcription.