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Dr Khorana: 'A loving father, a caring mentor'

Last updated on: November 28, 2011 21:44 IST

Dr Khorana: 'A loving father, a caring mentor'

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Suman Guha Mozumder

Nobel laureate Dr Har Gobind Khorana, who passed into the ages on November 9, took pride in mentoring younger scientists. At the same time, he ensured that his work didn't sideline his family life, Suman Guha Mozumder reports.

This is the third of the series paying tribute to the Nobel laureate.

Part I: Dr Khorana, Nobel laureate and one of science's immortals
Part II: Dr Khorana: 'Considerate, most remarkable man'

For Julia Elizabeth, the eldest of Nobel laureate Dr Har Gobind Khorana's three children, her father was an extremely loving person who would find time to spend with his children despite his enormous workload and busy schedule.

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Dr Khorana had three children: Julia Elizabeth, Emily Anne (who died in 1979), and Dave Roy.

"He clearly was a very loving father; at home all of us would have dinner together and we would talk about various things," a still shocked Julia, 58, told rediff.com days after her father passed away.

"My father was a very curious person, curious about everything around him -- students, colleagues, friends, nature and what not -- and that curiosity remained with him till the very end."

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Image: Dr Har Gobind Khorana (left) with his eldest daughter Julia Elizabeth and longtime colleague and friend Dr Uttam RajBhandary

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'He was always really interested in education, in students and young people'

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The scientist would go for a walk every day, and would want to know about every tree on the side of the streets.

"He loved trees and sometimes would bring flowers that he loved," said Julia, who is a graphic artist.

"My father had a deep love for Western classical music, thanks to my mother Esther Elizabeth Sibler who died in 2001. He would often go to concerts and listened to music at home."

She said her father worked a lot and often that work had an effect on his family -- in a positive way. 

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"He would get a lot of foreign students and our holidays would often be spent with students, his colleagues and friends. That used to be exciting," Julia said, adding, "He was a very enthusiastic person and that enthusiasm could be very contagious for people around him. I really admired him for what he was; we enjoyed our time together."

In a statement released by MIT, Julia said that in addition to his strong research ethic, Dr Khorana took pride in mentoring younger scientists.

'Even while doing all this research, he was always really interested in education, in students and young people,' she said. 'After he retired, students would come to visit and he loved to talk to them about the work they were doing. He was very loyal to them, and they were very loyal to him, too.'

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