Launch of NIH Web Exhibit,|
"Deciphering the Genetic Code: An Exhibit Honoring the Work of Nobel Laureate Marshall Nirenberg"
The Office of NIH History and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood
Institute of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) are pleased
to announce the launch of a new web-based exhibit on the NIH's first
intramural Nobel Laureate, Marshall Nirenberg.
Marshall Nirenberg is best known for "breaking the genetic code"
in 1961, an achievement that won him the Nobel Prize. But what exactly
is the genetic code? And how did he decipher it? This exhibit explores
genetics research in the 1950s and 1960s and explains the importance
of Nirenberg's experiments and discoveries. For at least a century
and a half, the method by which organisms inherit and pass along
certain traits has fascinated scientists all over the world. From
Gregor Mendel's pea plant experiments to the Human Genome Project,
new discoveries have deepened our understanding of how life is sustained
and changed from generation to generation.
"Nirenberg's work," notes NIH Historian Victoria A. Harden, "explained
the function of the genetic code, as opposed to Watson & Crick's
determination of the structure of DNA. Knowing the structure suggested
possible mechanisms of action, but knowing which mechanism was correct
and how it worked to instruct the synthesis of proteins made the
Genome Project and biotechnology and everything else possible."
This exhibit outlines the history of genetics research, focusing
on Nirenberg's work in the 1960s which led to a new understanding
of the genetic code. Featured in the exhibit are photographs of
the people involved in the research as well as the scientific instruments
used in the experiments. A helpful glossary explains the terms for
The Nirenberg web exhibit (www.history.nih.gov/exhibits/nirenberg)
complements a physical display located at the NIH Clinical Center
(Building 10) where visitors can view the actual instruments used
in the experiments.
The Office of NIH History and the Stetten Museum are components
of the Office of Communications and Public Liaison in the NIH Office
of the Director. "Deciphering the Genetic Code" was curated by Sarah
Leavitt, Ph.D., Associate NIH Historian, and was produced by the
Stetten Museum in collaboration with the National Heart, Lung, and
Blood Institute (NHLBI), one of the National Institutes of Health
(NIH). The NIH is an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and