Thursday, June 9, 2011

Mozambique 2010 A Tribute to Marshall Warren Nirenberg

Marshall Warren Nirenberg was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1968 for deciphering the genetic code. It was during his early post-doctoral days at the National Institute of Health (NIH) that he conducted a series of experiments leading to the discovery of how the triplets of nucleotides combined to form the different amino acids necessary for protein synthesis. He discovered first the codon for phenylalanine, he then presented his work in 1961 at the International Congress of Biochemistry at Moscow, receiving scant attention, until Francis Crick organised a repetition of the presentation in a larger hall in the same Congress. By 1966 Nirenberg had worked out the codons for all the 20 amino acids; in 1968 he received the Nobel Prize. All this time, Severo Ochoa, already a Nobel laureate, was pursuing for the same results in a large lab at New York University; in view of this stiff competition, all of Nirenberg's colleagues and friends at NIH dropped their own work to help him succeed in the race to decipher the complete codon table. Marshall Warren Nirenberg died of cancer on 15 January 2010, at the age of 82.
The mushrooms featured on the souvenir sheets and the stamps themselves have no links to Marshall Warren Nirenberg, they are included by the printers of these souvenir sheets targetted at philatelic enthusiasts.