A reprint from the Journal of the American Medical Association article, presented as a 1968 Albert Lasker Basic Research Award Lecture at the New York University Medical Center. Nirenberg recounts developments in deciphering the genetic language, formulation of codons and the meaning of their punctuation, mechanisms of codon recognition, and the issue of universality. As the translation apparatus of the cell accepts and follows instructions written in the appropriate molecular language, Nirenberg suggests our ability to decipher and manipulate that language means synthetic messages will probably eventually be used to "program cells and their descendents."
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