Sylvy Kornberg

Sylvy Kornberg
Rochester, New York
DiedJune 6, 1986
San Mateo, California
NationalityUnited States
Alma materUniversity of Rochester
Known forresearch on DNA replication and polyphosphate synthesis
Spouse(s)Arthur Kornberg
ChildrenRoger Kornberg, Thomas B. Kornberg, Kenneth Kornberg
Scientific career
InstitutionsNational Cancer Institute, Washington University in St. Louis, Stanford University
Academic advisorsWalter Bloor

Sylvy Kornberg née Sylvia Ruth Levy (1917-1986) was an American biochemist who carried out research on DNA replication and polyphosphate synthesis.[1] She discovered and characterized polyphosphate kinase (PPK), an enzyme that helps build long chains of phosphate groups called polyphosphate (PolyP) that play a variety of metabolic and regulatory functions.[2] She worked closely with her husband and research partner, Arthur Kornberg, contributing greatly to the characterization of DNA polymerization that earned him the 1959 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.[3]

Early life and education

Sylvy was born Sylvia Ruth Levy in 1917 in Rochester, New York. She was the eldest of three children to parents who were Jewish refugees from Latvia and Belarus with no formal education who had worked in factories their entire lives.[4] After high school, Sylvy enrolled in the University of Rochester, stating on her application that English and American history were her favorite subjects, while listing chemistry and general science as her least favorites.[1] Her attitude towards science soon changed - she became enamored to the point where she commuted from the College for Women's campus to the River Campus - the College for Men - to take advanced biology and chemistry courses that were only offered there. She was one of the few female students to do so.[1]

She earned an undergraduate degree in biochemistry in 1938, then went on to earn a Masters of Science in biochemistry in 1940, also from the University of Rochester.[1] She carried out her graduate research at the university's School of Medicine and Dentistry under Walter Bloor, who specialized in lipids.[1] Her work during this time focused on lipid metabolism[3] and characterizing lipids in tumors.[5] While at the University of Rochester, she served as editor of the campus newsletter, The Tower Times.[6] It was also here that she met her future husband and research partner, Arthur Kornberg, who was a medical school student at the time.[3]

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