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SciTech Tuesday: Dr. Jerome Karle (June 18, 1918 – June 6, 2013)

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Dr. Jerome Karle, Manhattan Project scientist and Nobel laureate, died on June 6.  Honored with the 1985 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, Dr. Karle and his colleague Herbert Hauptman developed X-ray crystallography, a technique now commonly used by scientists to identify the complex shapes of molecules such as proteins.

Working at the Naval Research Laboratory after World War II, Dr. Karle and Dr. Hauptman used beams of X-rays bouncing off the crystallized form of a molecule to “see” the arrangement of the atoms.  The images reveal the structure of biological molecules, giving scientists critical information about the chemical behavior of molecules in the body.  Identifying the structure of a specific molecule allows researchers to develop drugs targeted to treat illnesses.  Click here to read more about the role of X-ray crystallography in the discovery of the structure of DNA.

Dr. Jerome Karle with his wife, Dr. Isabella Karle. Both retired from the Naval Research Laboratory in 2009. (The Washington Post file photo)

Read Dr. Jerome Karle’s full obituary.

Post by Annie Tête, STEM Education Coordinator

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