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Lasker Luminaries

Marshall Nirenberg

Places of Importance in Nirenberg's Field of Study

"The dominant idea in molecular biology is that DNA carries information encoded in the form of specific sequences of nucleotides which determines the amino acid sequences of proteins…Exactly how this specification is accomplished is the main problem of present-day molecular biology and its solution, the breaking of the genetic code, is the main ambition of many workers in the field."–quote by Sydney Brenner at the 1961 symposium at Cold Spring Harbor, from The 8th Day of Creation by Horace Freeland Judson.

The groups listed below independently and collaboratively worked on solving the mysteries of protein synthesis, setting the stage for Nirenberg's breakthrough. They generally agreed that ribosomes were the site of protein synthesis but had differing opinions regarding the "intermediate" or messenger that carried the information necessary for protein synthesis.

The Boston Group at Massachusetts General included Paul Zamecnik and Mahlon Hoagland

The Cambridge Group included Francis Crick, Sydney Brenner, and John Kendrew

The Cal Tech Group included Matthew Meselson and Franklin Stahl, until the end of 1960

The Harvard Group included James Watson and Ernst Freese, then Meselson and Stahl.

The Paris Group, at the Institute Pasteur, included Francois Jacob, Jacques Monod, Andre Lwoff, and for a time, Arthur Beck Pardee, The PaJaMo experiment came from the Paris group. Monod and Jacob coined the term "messenger RNA"

Places of Significance in Nirenberg's Career

National Institutes of Health (NIH) [http://www.nih.gov/] is where Nirenberg has spent his entire career, which began in 1957

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) [http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/index.htm] is the section of the NIH where Nirenberg currently works.