Professor Paul Berg ForMemRS
Paul Berg’s fundamental studies of the biochemistry of nucleic acids put him at the forefront of genetic engineering and earned him the 1980 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. He developed a pioneering laboratory technique for combining DNA from one source with DNA from another, producing recombinant DNA — sequences that would not otherwise be found in nature.
Beginning his career in classical biochemistry, Paul made the transition to molecular biology after becoming interested in how genes act and proteins are made. One of his earliest practical results using recombinant DNA technology was the development of a strain of bacteria containing the gene for insulin. Paul was also instrumental in developing guidelines for safe laboratory study and professional standards in genetic research.
His revolutionary work has earned him numerous honours and awards. In addition to his Nobel Prize in Chemistry, in 1983 he was presented with the US National Medal of Science. Since his retirement from research in 2000, he has focused on biomedical policy issues involving recombinant DNA and stem cells.