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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Nobel Prizes in Science: Chemistry

The Nobel Prizes in Science: Chemistry

All the hype over stem cells arises because they are the one type of cell that can be transformed into any cell in the human body. This makes sense if one thinks about it, since these cells are the ones that constitute life, life that consists of many different types of cells. Much of the current research in finding cures and altering the human beings as we know them could be made a lot simpler if one were to simply alter genetic information at the half hour interval in which a human being is a single-celled organism. However, as natural processes go, this is also the point where a lot of genetic information gets messed up, creating all the deformities and diseases that are unwanted. Many of these illnesses are forms of inflammation or disturbances in the transcription process. For research in this field, the Nobel Prize in Chemistry was granted to Roger D. Kornberg.

Mr. Kornberg can be seen as an artist instead of a scientist because his great contribution came in the form of pictures that required an intuitive understanding of biochemistry to interpret.

Transcription is the process by which he basically modeled some form of goo to allow only particular RNA (the molecule that transports information) to attach to copy the DNA (the molecule that holds genetic information). Much like the cubes and cylinders that infants place into the block with corresponding holes in the shapes of squares and circles, Kornberg had to figure out where the different RNA fit and why. This process of transcription in which the RNA copies the information from the DNA is fairly simple in single celled bacteria which do not have a defined nucleus. In eukaryotes (more complex organisms like human beings) the cells are far more complex, and there are many different types of transcriptions. He turns the goo into a crystalline form to depict the biological material. This makes it possible to understand the mechanism governing the transcription process. Usually interactions within a cell are conducted through chemical or electrical changes. However, with transcription the only way to know what the cell is doing is by “seeing” it.

All his painstaking work allows us to see a functional image of how genetic information generates all the different forms of complex life. Kornberg’s success can be attributed to influence from his father who also won the Nobel Prize. Ultimately this discovery will be a major factor in curing many diseases.