Paul Berg

Last updated
Paul Berg
Paul Berg in 1980.jpg
Paul Berg in 1980
Born (1926-06-30) June 30, 1926 (age 93)
Nationality U.S.
Alma mater
Known for Recombinant DNA
Spouse(s)
Mildred Levy(m. 1947)
Childrenone [1]
Awards
Scientific career
Fields Biochemistry
Institutions [3]

Paul Berg (born June 30, 1926) is an American biochemist and professor emeritus at Stanford University. He was the recipient of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1980, along with Walter Gilbert and Frederick Sanger. [4] [5] [6] The award recognized their contributions to basic research involving nucleic acids. Berg received his undergraduate education at Penn State University, where he majored in biochemistry. He received his Ph.D. in biochemistry from Case Western Reserve University in 1952. Berg worked as a professor at Washington University School of Medicine and Stanford University School of Medicine, in addition to serving as the director of the Beckman Center for Molecular and Genetic Medicine. In addition to the Nobel Prize, Berg was presented with the National Medal of Science in 1983 and the National Library of Medicine Medal in 1986. Berg is a member of the Board of Sponsors for the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists . [7]

Contents

Early life and education

Berg was born in Brooklyn, New York, the son of a Russian Jewish immigrant couple [8] , Sarah Brodsky, a homemaker, and Harry Berg, a clothing manufacturer. [9] Berg graduated from Abraham Lincoln High School in 1943, [10] received his Bachelor of Science degree in biochemistry from Penn State University in 1948 and Ph.D. in biochemistry from Case Western Reserve University in 1952. He is a member of the Beta Sigma Rho fraternity[ citation needed ] (now Beta Sigma Beta).

Research and career

Academic posts

After completing his graduate studies, Berg spent two years (1952–1954) as a postdoctoral fellow with the American Cancer Society, working at the Institute of Cytophysiology in Copenhagen, Denmark and the Washington University School of Medicine, and spent additional time in 1954 as a Scholar in Cancer Research with the Department of Microbiology at the Washington University School of Medicine. [11] He worked with Arthur Kornberg, while at Washington University. [12] Berg was also tenured as a research fellow at Clare Hall, Cambridge. [13] [14] He was a professor at Washington University School of Medicine from 1955 until 1959. After 1959, Berg moved to Stanford University, where he taught biochemistry from 1959 until 2000 and served as director of the Beckman Center for Molecular and Genetic Medicine from 1985 until 2000. [11] In 2000 he retired from his administrative and teaching posts, continuing to be active in research. [15]

Research interests

Berg's postgraduate studies involved the use of radioisotope tracers to study intermediary metabolism. This resulted in the understanding of how foodstuffs are converted to cellular materials, through the use of isotopic carbons or heavy nitrogen atoms. Paul Berg's doctorate paper is now known as the conversion of formic acid, formaldehyde and methanol to fully reduced states of methyl groups in methionine. He was also one of the first to demonstrate that folic acid and B12 cofactors had roles in the processes mentioned.

Berg is arguably most famous for his pioneering work involving gene splicing of recombinant DNA. [16] Berg was the first scientist to create a molecule containing DNA from two different species by inserting DNA from another species into a molecule. This gene-splicing technique was a fundamental step in the development of modern genetic engineering. After developing the technique, Berg used it for his studies of viral chromosomes. [17]

Berg is currently a Professor Emeritus at Stanford. [11] As of 2000, he stopped doing active research, to focus on other interests, including involvement in public policy for biomedical issues involving recombinant DNA and embryonic stem cells and publishing a book about geneticist George Beadle. [18]

Berg is a member of the Board of Sponsors of The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists . He was also an organizer of the Asilomar conference on recombinant DNA in 1975. The previous year, Berg and other scientists had called for a voluntary moratorium on certain recombinant DNA research until they could evaluate the risks. That influential conference did evaluate the potential hazards and set guidelines for biotechnology research. It can be seen as an early application of the precautionary principle.

Awards and honors

Queen Beatrix meets Nobel laureates in 1983, Mildred Levy and Paul Berg are second couple from the left Queen Beatrix meets Nobel Laureates in 1983.jpg
Queen Beatrix meets Nobel laureates in 1983, Mildred Levy and Paul Berg are second couple from the left

Nobel Prize

Berg was awarded one-half of the 1980 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, with the other half being shared by Walter Gilbert and Frederick Sanger. Berg was recognized for "his fundamental studies of the biochemistry of nucleic acids, with particular regard to recombinant DNA", while Sanger and Gilbert were honored for "their contributions concerning the determination of base sequences in nucleic acids." [19]

Other awards and honors

He was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1966. [20] In 1983, Ronald Reagan presented Berg with the National Medal of Science. In 1989, he received the Golden Plate Award of the American Academy of Achievement. [21] He was elected a Foreign Member of the Royal Society (ForMemRS) in 1992. [22] In 2005 he was awarded the Biotechnology Heritage Award by the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) and the Chemical Heritage Foundation. [23] [24] In 2006 he received Wonderfest's Carl Sagan Prize for Science Popularization. [25]

Related Research Articles

Kary Mullis American biochemist

Kary Banks Mullis was an American biochemist. In recognition of his invention of the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) technique, he shared the 1993 Nobel Prize in Chemistry with Michael Smith and was awarded the Japan Prize in the same year. His invention became a central technique in biochemistry and molecular biology, described by The New York Times as "highly original and significant, virtually dividing biology into the two epochs of before PCR and after PCR."

Frederick Sanger British biochemist

Frederick Sanger was a British biochemist who twice won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, one of only two people to have done so in the same category, the fourth person overall with two Nobel Prizes, and the third person overall with two Nobel Prizes in the sciences. In 1958, he was awarded a Nobel Prize in Chemistry "for his work on the structure of proteins, especially that of insulin". In 1980, Walter Gilbert and Sanger shared half of the chemistry prize "for their contributions concerning the determination of base sequences in nucleic acids". The other half was awarded to Paul Berg "for his fundamental studies of the biochemistry of nucleic acids, with particular regard to recombinant DNA".

David Baltimore Nobel Prize winner

David Baltimore is an American biologist, university administrator, and 1975 Nobel laureate in Physiology or Medicine, he is a Professor of Biology at the California Institute of Technology, where he served as president from 1997 to 2006. He also serves as the director of the Joint Center for Translational Medicine, which joins Caltech and UCLA in a program to translate basic science discoveries into clinical realities. He served as president of the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) from 1997 to 2006, and is currently the President Emeritus and Robert Andrews Millikan Professor of Biology at Caltech. He also served as president of Rockefeller University from 1990 to 1991, and was president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2007. Baltimore has profoundly influenced international science, including key contributions to immunology, virology, cancer research, biotechnology, and recombinant DNA research, through his accomplishments as a researcher, administrator, educator, and public advocate for science and engineering. He has trained many doctoral students and postdoctoral fellows, several of whom have gone on to notable and distinguished research careers. In addition to the Nobel Prize, he has received a number of awards, including the U.S. National Medal of Science in 1999. Baltimore currently sits on the Board of Sponsors for the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists and is a consultant to the Science Philanthropy Alliance.

Michael Smith (chemist) Canadian Nobel laureate in chemistry

Michael Smith was a British-born Canadian biochemist and businessman. He shared the 1993 Nobel Prize in Chemistry with Kary Mullis for his work in developing site-directed mutagenesis. Following a PhD in 1956 from the University of Manchester, he undertook postdoctoral research with Har Gobind Khorana at the British Columbia Research Council in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Subsequently, Smith worked at the Fisheries Research Board of Canada Laboratory in Vancouver before being appointed a professor of biochemistry in the UBC Faculty of Medicine in 1966. Smith's career included roles as the founding director of the UBC Biotechnology Laboratory and the founding scientific leader of the Protein Engineering Network of Centres of Excellence (PENCE). In 1996 he was named Peter Wall Distinguished Professor of Biotechnology. Subsequently he became the founding director of the Genome Sequencing Centre at the BC Cancer Research Centre.

Har Gobind Khorana Indian-American molecular biologist

Har Gobind Khorana was an Indian American biochemist. While on the faculty of the University of Wisconsin–Madison, he shared the 1968 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine with Marshall W. Nirenberg and Robert W. Holley for research that showed the order of nucleotides in nucleic acids, which carry the genetic code of the cell and control the cell's synthesis of proteins. Khorana and Nirenberg were also awarded the Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize from Columbia University in the same year.

Werner Arber Swiss microbiologist and geneticist

Werner Arber is a Swiss microbiologist and geneticist. Along with American researchers Hamilton Smith and Daniel Nathans, Werner Arber shared the 1978 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for the discovery of restriction endonucleases. Their work would lead to the development of recombinant DNA technology.

Arthur Kornberg American biochemist

Arthur Kornberg was an American biochemist who won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 1959 for his discovery of "the mechanisms in the biological synthesis of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA)" together with Dr. Severo Ochoa of New York University. He was also awarded the Paul-Lewis Award in Enzyme Chemistry from the American Chemical Society in 1951, L.H.D. degree from Yeshiva University in 1962, as well as National Medal of Science in 1979.

César Milstein Argentine biochemist

César Milstein, CH, FRS was an Argentine biochemist in the field of antibody research. Milstein shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1984 with Niels Kaj Jerne and Georges J. F. Köhler.

Recombinant DNA DNA molecules formed by laboratory methods

Recombinant DNA (rDNA) molecules are DNA molecules formed by laboratory methods of genetic recombination to bring together genetic material from multiple sources, creating sequences that would not otherwise be found in the genome.

Stanley Norman Cohen American geneticist

Stanley Norman Cohen is an American geneticist and the Kwoh-Ting Li Professor in the Stanford University School of Medicine. Stanley Cohen and Herbert Boyer were the first scientists to transplant genes from one living organism to another, a fundamental discovery for genetical engineering. Thousands of products have been developed on the basis of their work, including human growth hormone and hepatitis B vaccine. According to microbiologist Hugh McDevitt, "Cohen's DNA cloning technology has helped biologists in virtually every field". Without it, "the face of biomedicine and biotechnology would look totally different."

Robert W. Holley American biochemist

Robert William Holley was an American biochemist. He shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1968 for describing the structure of alanine transfer RNA, linking DNA and protein synthesis.

Aziz Sancar Turkish geneticist; Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2015

Aziz Sancar is Turkish biochemist and molecular biologist specializing in DNA repair, cell cycle checkpoints, and circadian clock. In 2015, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry along with Tomas Lindahl and Paul L. Modrich for their mechanistic studies of DNA repair. He has made contributions on photolyase and nucleotide excision repair in bacteria that have changed his field.

Asilomar Conference on Recombinant DNA

The Asilomar Conference on Recombinant DNA was an influential conference organized by Paul Berg to discuss the potential biohazards and regulation of biotechnology, held in February 1975 at a conference center at Asilomar State Beach. A group of about 140 professionals participated in the conference to draw up voluntary guidelines to ensure the safety of recombinant DNA technology. The conference also placed scientific research more into the public domain, and can be seen as applying a version of the precautionary principle.

Paul L. Modrich American biochemist

Paul Lawrence Modrich is an American biochemist, James B. Duke Professor of Biochemistry at Duke University and Investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. He is known for his research on DNA mismatch repair. Modrich received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2015, jointly with Aziz Sancar and Tomas Lindahl.

Maxine Singer American biologist

Maxine Frank Singer is an American molecular biologist and science administrator. She is known for her contributions to solving the genetic code, her role in the ethical and regulatory debates on recombinant DNA techniques, and her leadership of Carnegie Institution of Washington. In 2002, Discover magazine recognized her as one of the 50 most important women in science.

Errol Friedberg American biologist

Errol Clive Friedberg is a retired biologist and historian of science in the Department of Pathology at Stanford University and subsequently the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.

Janet E. Mertz is an American biochemist, molecular biologist, and cancer researcher. She is currently the Elizabeth McCoy Professor of Oncology in the McArdle Laboratory for Cancer Research at the University of Wisconsin – Madison. Mertz is best known for disputing Lawrence Summers’ 2005 suggestion that women lack the intrinsic aptitude to excel in mathematics at the highest level and for discovering an easy method for joining together DNAs from different species . This latter finding initiated the era of genetic engineering whose ramifications form the basis of modern genetics and the biotechnology industry.

The Beckman Center for Molecular and Genetic Medicine is an interdisciplinary center, part of Stanford School of Medicine at Stanford University, Stanford, California. Considered a "unique facility", it was one of the first research centers to take a translational medicine approach to molecular and medical genetics.

The Carl Sagan Prize for Science Popularization is an annual $5,000 award presented in honor of the late scientist Carl Sagan by Wonderfest, the San Francisco Bay Area Beacon of Science, to a scientist who has "contributed mightily to the public understanding and appreciation of science."

References

  1. Oakes, Elizabeth H. (2007). Encyclopedia of World Scientists. New York: Facts on File. ISBN   978-1438118826.
  2. "Paul Berg + Stanford Biochemistry Department". berg-emeritusprofessor.stanford.edu. Archived from the original on 19 February 2015. Retrieved 4 May 2018.
  3. "Research Focus – Clare Hall". www.clarehall.cam.ac.uk. Archived from the original on 13 March 2018. Retrieved 4 May 2018.
  4. Curriculum vitae Archived 2005-02-07 at the Wayback Machine from the Nobel Prize website
  5. Berg autobiography Archived 2006-03-04 at the Wayback Machine from the Nobel Prize website
  6. Berg interview Archived 2005-04-18 at the Wayback Machine from the Nobel Prize website
  7. "Guide to the Paul Berg Papers". www.oac.cdlib.org. Archived from the original on 22 October 2017. Retrieved 4 May 2018.
  8. "Professor Paul Berg | Biographical summary". WhatisBiotechnology.org. Retrieved 2019-12-10.
  9. HowStuffWorks "Paul Berg" Archived 2016-05-20 at the Wayback Machine . Science.howstuffworks.com (2008-10-21). Retrieved on 2014-04-03.
  10. Hargittai, István. "The road to Stockholm: Nobel Prizes, science, and scientists", p. 121. Oxford University Press, 2002. ISBN   0-19-850912-X. Accessed September 20, 2009. "Arthur Kornberg (M59), Jerome Karle (C85), and Paul Berg (C80) all went to the Abraham Lincoln High School in Brooklyn."
  11. 1 2 3 "Paul Berg – Curriculum Vitae". The Nobel Foundation. Archived from the original on 2011-05-14. Retrieved 2011-03-25.
  12. "Paul Berg". HowStuffWorks. 2008-10-21. Archived from the original on 2012-01-09. Retrieved 2011-03-25.
  13. "Research Focus | Clare Hall". www.clarehall.cam.ac.uk. Archived from the original on 2016-04-25.
  14. Singer, Maxine; Berg, Pam (1990). Genes and genomes. Mill Valley, Ca.: University Science Books. p. xxviii. ISBN   0935702172.
  15. Carey, Jr., Charles W. (2006). American scientists. New York, NY: Facts on File. ISBN   978-0816054992.
  16. "Paul Berg". Science History Institute. Archived from the original on 21 February 2018. Retrieved 5 May 2016.
  17. "Award Ceremony Speech". The Nobel Foundation. Archived from the original on 2011-01-23. Retrieved 2011-03-25.
  18. "CAP – Paul Berg". Stanford University. Archived from the original on 2011-06-09. Retrieved 2011-03-25.
  19. "The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 1980". The Nobel Foundation. Archived from the original on 2011-03-05. Retrieved 2011-03-25.
  20. "Book of Members, 1780–2010: Chapter B" (PDF). American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Archived (PDF) from the original on July 25, 2011. Retrieved June 16, 2011.
  21. "Golden Plate Awardees of the American Academy of Achievement". www.achievement.org. American Academy of Achievement.
  22. "Professor Paul Berg ForMemRS". London: Royal Society. Archived from the original on 2015-11-12.
  23. "Biotechnology Heritage Award". Science History Institute . 2016-05-31. Archived from the original on 4 May 2018. Retrieved 21 February 2018.
  24. Gussman, Neil (13 April 2005). "Paul Berg to Receive 2005 Biotechnology Heritage Award". PR NewsWire. Archived from the original on 21 February 2014. Retrieved 5 February 2014.
  25. "Sagan Prize Recipients". wonderfest.org. 2011. Archived from the original on August 12, 2011. Retrieved September 10, 2011.