Personal Life, Education and Career
Born on 10 April 1927 in New York to Harry and Minerva Nirenberg, Marshall Nirenberg and his family moved to Orlando, Florida, and he grew up there, interested in biology and with a habit of keeping neat records of his flora and fauna observations.
After graduating from high school in 1945, he got a B.Sc. degree in zoology and chemistry in 1948 and a M.Sc. degree in zoology in 1952 from the University of Florida. He got his Ph.D. in biological chemistry from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor in 1957 and then, in 1957-1959, did postdoctoral work as an American Cancer Society Postdoctoral Fellow at the National Institute of Arthritis, Metabolic, and Digestive Diseases (NIAMDD), National Institutes of Health (NIH), in Bethesda, Maryland. He was a Public Health Service Postdoctoral Fellow at NIAMDD in 1959-1960.
He became a research biochemist at NIAMDD in 1960. Between 1962-1966, he served as the Chief of the Section on Biochemical Genetics at the National Heart Institute (NHI), NIH. He became the Senior Research Biochemist and Chief at the Laboratory of Biochemical Genetics, NHI.
He received numerous honors and awards from leading scientific organizations, like the Molecular Biology Award from the National Academy of Sciences in 1962 in the course of his career, as well as the National Medal of Science (1966) and the National Medal of Honor (1968) from President Lyndon Johnson. In 2001, he became a member of the American Philosophical Society.