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Fellows Directory

Roger Kornberg

Professor Roger Kornberg ForMemRS

Foreign Member

Elected: 2009


Roger Kornberg is an American biochemist credited with major discoveries that underlie the central dogma of molecular biology. He elucidated the tight packaging structures of DNA within chromosomes, and revealed the molecular machinery responsible for the first step in the pathway of gene expression. For this he received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2006.

Early in his career, Roger deciphered the enigmatic first level of DNA parcelling in the cell’s nucleus. Succeeding where many other scientists had faltered, he revealed that stretches of DNA are wound around an eight-unit protein core — termed the nucleosome. Later, he applied his structural biology skills to understanding DNA transcription.

Roger led the discovery in yeast of RNA polymerase II, the master enzyme responsible for converting DNA code into mRNA. He showed that RNA polymerase II unravels the DNA strands and synthesises mRNA, and also identified the many other vital components of the transcription apparatus.


  • Nobel Prize in Chemistry

    For his studies of the molecular basis of eukaryotic transcription.