Holley, Robert William

Holley, Robert William, 1922–93, American biochemist, b. Urbana, Ill., Ph.D. Cornell, 1947. He was a professor at Cornell (1948–68) before he joined (1968) the Salk Institute, and he continued an association with Cornell after 1968. Holley received the 1968 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine jointly with Har Gobind Khorana and Marshall W. Nirenberg for their interpretation of the genetic code and its function in protein synthesis. Holley is credited with isolating transfer RNA (tRNA) and then determining the sequence and structure of alanine tRNA, which incorporates the amino acid alanine into proteins. Knowledge of the structure of tRNA was key to explaining how proteins are synthesized from messenger RNA.

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