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Stanford Report, October 3, 2001

Arthur Kornberg

Arthur Kornberg, the Emma Pfeiffer Merner Professor of Biochemistry, Emeritus; at Stanford 1959-present. Awarded the 1959 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine with Severo Ochoa "for their discovery of the mechanisms in the biological synthesis of ribonucleic acid and deoxyribonucleic acid."

Since receiving the prize, Kornberg has focused on research. From 1960 to 1990, he conducted research that led to his discovery of how DNA chains are started and elongated at the fork of the replicating DNA and how the replication of chromosomes is started and terminated. Since 1990, he has shifted his focus to inorganic polyphosphate (poly P), a long polymer of phosphates found in every living cell and conserved from prebiotic life on Earth. Kornberg's research is showing that poly P, long regarded as a molecular fossil, has many important functions, including cellular responses to stress and starvation. It also is essential for the virulence of bacteria that cause many infectious diseases.

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