Berg, Paul

Berg, Paul
born June 30, 1926, New York, N.Y., U.S.

U.S. biochemist.

He received his Ph.D. from Western Reserve University. While studying the actions of isolated genes, he devised methods for splitting DNA molecules at selected sites and attaching the resulting segments to the DNA of a virus or plasmid, which could then enter bacterial or animal cells. The foreign DNA was incorporated into the host and caused the synthesis of proteins not ordinarily found there. One of the earliest practical results of this research was the development of a strain of bacteria that contained the gene for producing insulin. In 1980 Berg shared a Nobel Prize with Walter Gilbert (b. 1932) and Frederick Sanger.

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▪ American biochemist
born June 30, 1926, New York, N.Y., U.S.

      American biochemist whose development of recombinant-DNA (recombinant DNA technology) techniques won him a share (with Walter Gilbert and Frederick Sanger) of the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1980.

      After graduating from Pennsylvania State College (later renamed Pennsylvania State University) in 1948 and taking a doctorate from Western Reserve University in 1952, Berg pursued further studies at the Institute of Cytophysiology in Copenhagen and at Washington University in St. Louis, where he remained as assistant professor of microbiology until 1959. From 1959 he was associated with the medical school of Stanford University, serving as chairman of the biochemistry department in 1969–74 and becoming Willson professor (1970) and director of the Beckman Center for Molecular and Genetic Medicine (1985).

      In the course of studying the actions of isolated genes, Berg developed methods for splitting DNA molecules at selected sites and attaching segments of the molecule to the DNA of a virus or plasmid, which could then enter bacterial or animal cells. The foreign DNA was incorporated into the host and caused the synthesis of proteins that were not ordinarily found there. One of the earliest practical results of recombinant technology was the development of a strain of bacteria containing the gene for producing the mammalian hormone insulin.

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Universalium. 2010.

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