It was awarded for Kornberg's fundamental studies on transcription - the process by which the information stored in the genes is copied and transferred to those parts of the cells that produce proteins. Kornberg was the first to create an actual picture of this process at the molecular level in eukaryotes - a group of organisms that include everything from fungus to humans!
Constant transcription of the genetic information in the DNA is a central process for all living beings. The DNA-molecule itself lies protected within the cell nuclei. The genetic information therefore needs to be copied and transformed into "messenger DNA", which can then move the information out from the nucleus and to the protein-producing part of the cell. These proteins can then construct the organism, and define its function. Any interruptions in transcription can have severe consequences - illnesses such as cancer, heart disease and many inflammatory diseases have links to disturbances in the transcription process. Roger Kornberg was the first to create an image of this process "in action" - and these images make it possible to understand the molecular mechanisms governing transcription.
Now back to 2014 - in early April, Roger Kornberg talked about his incredible discovery, and much more, in packed lecture theatres in Gothenburg and Copenhagen as part of the Nobel Prize Inspiration Initiative (NPII). His first visit was to the University of Gothenburg, where he spoke to students and staff from the hosting university and from Chalmers University of Technology.
The next day, we were off to Copenhagen, to the amazing venue, The Black Diamond, to meet students and staff from the University of Copenhagen and the Technical University of Denmark.
Dr Kornberg had some more media interviews, followed by a dinner in the famous Copenhagen venue, Nimb. But his day wasn't over. Dr Kornberg also found time to record a podcast with Adam, which you can listen to here: http://www.nobelprize.org/podcast/
We really enjoyed our visit to Copenhagen and Gothenburg - we promise to share the lecture video very soon, and keep an eye on the site for hints and tips from Dr Kornberg. We also had some lovely interactions on Storify, which you can read here.
The next Nobel Prize Inspiration Initiative event will be in China - we'll be bringing Tim Hunt to Shanghai and Chengdu on the 3rd June.... so lots more posts to come!