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Har Gobind Khorana: Scientist who taught us to be modest, except in our aim : The Tribune India

Aditi Tandon

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 9

The scientist on Sunday celebrated the centenary of the birth of Nobel laureate Har Gobind Khurana and recalled his timeless advice to colleagues and students alike. “We must be modest except in our aims,” said Khurana, quoting Otto Loe, winner of the Nobel Prize in Medicine (1936).

Born in Raipur, a village in what is now part of the Punjab in Pakistan, Khurrana’s work has inspired a special edition of the Indian Academy of Sciences, which celebrates the life and times of the world.

The publication is an insight into Khurrana’s humility despite his tremendous scientific achievements that culminated in the 1968 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine he shared with Marshall Nirenberg and Robert Holley for elucidating the genetic code.

Uttam L. Raj Bhandari, Professor of Molecular Biology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, recalls how the legendary scientist failed to find a job upon returning to India in 1949 after receiving his Ph.D. abroad and also how he ended up in organic chemistry despite That he was supposed to study fungicides.

“There is an interesting story about how Khurana ended up working for a Ph.D. in organic chemistry. Because a fellowship came from the Ministry of Agriculture in the Government of India, Khurana was initially scheduled to work at an institute in Berkshire, England, studying insecticides and fungicides. However, by the end of World War II, most educational institutions in the UK were crowded due to the large number of war veterans returning home to complete their education.Since Khurrana had a master’s degree in organic chemistry, the Indian High Commissioner’s office in London decided that he He might also work towards a Ph.D. in organic chemistry instead of studying pesticides and fungicides. In Liverpool, Khurrana earned her Ph.D. in 1948,” Rajbhandari says in a case shared by Congressional veteran Jairam Ramesh on Twitter today.

The publication talks about the perseverance of Khorana – how he simply appeared in the laboratory of Vladimir Prelog in Zurich (a Nobel laureate), without recommendations, demanded a space for post-doctoral research under his supervision and was accepted; How his determination to learn German introduced him to a world of chemical reagents that proved central to much of his early work and how he ended up in Vancouver for his first position as an independent investigator after failing to get a job in India where he was back in 1949. The scientist died in November 9, 2011.

It is based on humility

  • Nobel laureate Har Gobind Khurana appeared in the laboratory of Vladimir Prelog in Zurich (the Nobel laureate) without recommendations
  • He requested a space to do post-doctoral research under Prelog and was accepted
  • He ended up in Vancouver for his first position as an independent investigator after failing to get a job in India

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