Holley, Robert William

Holley, Robert William
born Jan. 28, 1922, Urbana, Ill., U.S.
died Feb. 11, 1993, Los Gatos, Calif.

U.S. biochemist.

He received his Ph.D. from Cornell University. Holley and others showed that transfer RNA was involved in the assembly of amino acids into proteins. He was the first to determine the sequence of nucleotides in a nucleic acid, a process that required digesting the molecule with enzymes, identifying the pieces, and then figuring out how they fit together. It has since been shown that all transfer RNA has a similar structure. He shared a 1968 Nobel Prize with Marshall Warren Nirenberg and Har Gobind Khorana.

* * *

▪ 1994

      U.S. biochemist (b. Jan. 28, 1922, Urbana, Ill.—d. Feb. 11, 1993, Los Gatos, Calif.), shared the 1968 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine with H. Gobind Khorana and Marshall W. Nirenberg; the three scientists independently conducted research that helped to decipher the genetic code chemically and explain how the genetic information stored in the DNA of a cell controls the synthesis of proteins, the building blocks of cells. Holley, who began his painstaking work in 1956 while at the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Plant, Soil and Nutrition Laboratory at Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y., determined the structure of alanine transfer RNA by purifying small amounts of the RNA isolated from more than 135 kg (300 lb) of baker's yeast. In 1965 Holley reported that "the complete nucleotide sequence of an alanine transfer RNA, isolated from yeast, has been determined. This is the first nucleic acid for which the structure is known." After earning a Ph.D. in organic chemistry (1947) from Cornell, Holley became associated with the university's state and federal agricultural stations and taught biochemistry and molecular biology (1962-66), serving at chairman of the biochemistry department from 1965 to 1966. In 1968 he became a resident fellow at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, Calif., where he remained until his death. There he studied both the normal and the abnormal functions of the growth of cells in mammals, primarily focusing on the timing of cell division. The latter was crucial to understanding the growth of cancer and aided in diagnosis and treatment of that disease and others. Holley was also the recipient of the prestigious Lasker Award (1965) and of an award in molecular biology (1967) from the National Academy of Sciences.

* * *

▪ American biochemist
born Jan. 28, 1922, Urbana, Ill., U.S.
died Feb. 11, 1993, Los Gatos, Calif.

      American biochemist who shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1968 with Marshall Warren Nirenberg (Nirenberg, Marshall Warren) and Har Gobind Khorana (Khorana, Har Gobind). Their research helped explain how the genetic code controls the synthesis of proteins.

      Holley obtained his Ph.D. in organic chemistry from Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y., in 1947. He investigated a variety of biochemical questions at the state and federal agricultural experiment stations at Cornell (1948–64). He began his research on RNA after spending a year studying with James F. Bonner at the California Institute of Technology (1955–56).

      By 1960 Holley and others had shown that small molecules of ribonucleic acids, called transfer RNAs, were involved in the assembly of amino acids into proteins. Holley and his collaborators developed techniques to separate the different transfer RNAs from the mixture in the cell. By 1965 he had determined the composition of the transfer RNA that incorporates the amino acid alanine into protein molecules. This feat—the first determination of the sequence of nucleotides in a nucleic acid—required digesting the molecule with enzymes, identifying the pieces, then figuring out how they fit together. It has since been shown that all transfer RNAs have similar structures.

      In 1968 Holley became a resident fellow at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, Calif. He also became an adjunct professor at the University of California, San Diego, in the following year.

* * *


Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Holley,Robert William — Hol·ley (hŏlʹē), Robert William. 1922 1993. American biochemist. He shared a 1968 Nobel Prize for the study of genetic codes. * * * …   Universalium

  • Holley , Robert William — (1922–1993) American biochemist Holley was born in Urbana, Illinois. After graduating in chemistry from Illinois University in 1942, he joined the team at Cornell Medical School that achieved the first artificial synthesis of penicillin. He… …   Scientists

  • Holley, Robert William — (28 ene. 1922, Urbana, Ill., EE.UU.–11 feb. 1993, Los Gatos, Cal.). Bioquímico estadounidense. Obtuvo su Ph.D. en la Universidad Cornell. Holley y otros demostraron que el ARN de transferencia participaba en el ensamblado de aminoácidos para… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Robert William Holley — Robert W. Holley Robert W. Holley (links) Robert William Holley (* 28. Januar 1922 in Urbana, Illinois …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Medizinnobelpreis 1968: Robert William Holley — Har Gobind Khorana — Marshall Warren Nirenberg —   Die drei amerikanischen Wissenschaftler erhielten den Nobelpreis für »ihre Interpretation des genetischen Codes und dessen Funktion bei der Proteinsynthese«.    Biografien   Robert William Holley, * Urbana (Illinois) 28. 1. 1922, ✝ Los Gatos… …   Universal-Lexikon

  • Holley — Robert William …   Scientists

  • Robert Holley — Robert W. Holley Robert W. Holley (links) Robert William Holley (* 28. Januar 1922 in Urbana, Illinois …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Robert — /rob euhrt/, n. 1. Henry Martyn /mahr tn/, 1837 1923, U.S. engineer and authority on parliamentary procedure: author of Robert s Rules of Order (1876, revised 1915). 2. a male given name: from Germanic words meaning glory and bright. * * * (as… …   Universalium

  • William — /wil yeuhm/, n. 1. a word formerly used in communications to represent the letter W. 2. a male given name: from Germanic words meaning will and helmet. * * * (as used in expressions) Huddie William Ledbetter Aberhart William George William… …   Universalium

  • Robert — (as used in expressions) Adam, Robert Aldrich, Robert Altman, Robert (B.) Ashe, Arthur (Robert), Jr. Baden Powell (de Gilwell), Robert Stephenson Smyth, 1 barón Bakewell, Robert Baldwin, Robert Ballard Robert D(uane) Bly, Robert (Elwood) Borden,… …   Enciclopedia Universal

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”