Rene Cassin was born in Bayonne, France in 1887. In 1914, he received his Ph.D. degree in judicial, economic and Political Sciences.
On that year, World War I broke. Cassin, who was severely injured in battle, learned a human lesson from his personal suffering, and dedicated his life to the benefit of all people.
In addition to his activity for the benefit of war-disabled and orphans, Cassin represented France in international institutions; initially in the League of Nations and later on in the United Nations. During World War II, Cassin joined De Gaulle’s Government in exile, and handled the arrangement of the status of “Free France”.
In light of the horrors of World War II, Cassin placed his judicial knowledge at the service of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights. His greatest contribution was expressed in the drafting of the majority of the sections of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights.
In 1968, Rene Cassin was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his persistent struggle against the oppression and injustice prevailing in the world.
Cassin also acted in the service of his people: he served as the President of the Alliance Israelite Universelle and assisted in the rehabilitation of Jewish communities throughout the world.
Rene Cassin died in 1976 at the age of 89.
Marshall Nirenberg was born in New-York in 1927. Because of his frail health, the family moved to Florida where as a young man, Nirenberg studied biology at the University of Florida. He received his doctorate in biochemistry from the University of Michigan in 1957. From 1960, Nirenberg has been active at the National Institutes of Health.
In 1968, Marshall Nirenberg was awarded the Nobel prize for medicine and physiology “for his interpretation of the genetic code and its function in protein synthesis”.
Nirenberg studied the assumption that RNA was responsible for construction of protein from amino acids, and, in a 1961 experiment on synthetic RNA, he succeeded in producing a specific protein. In the wake of this pioneering discovery, he found that the genetic code was based on four “building blocks” called nucleotides. These blocks combine in triplets to create a codon, that codes for a specific amino acid in the synthesis of the protein.
After much laborious work, Nirenberg succeeded in deciphering the codons describing all twenty amino acids, thus providing science with a new language for understanding the secrets of life.