Robert Holley dies in Los Gatos, California.

In 1968, though maintaining an affiliation with Cornell University, he joins the permanent staff of the Salk Institute.

He does graduate work at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY. He receives his Ph.D. in organic chemistry in 1947. 

After completing the Ph. D. degree, Holley spends the next year as a Postdoctoral Fellow at Washington State University.

He studies chemistry at the University of Illinois and received his B. A. degree in 1942. 

He has to interrupt his graduate work during World War II. He spends two years at Cornell University Medical College, where he participates in the first chemical synthesis of penicillin.

Holley returns to Ithaca, as a Research Chemist at the U. S. Plant, Soil and Nutrition Laboratory, a U. S. Department of Agriculture Laboratory on the Cornell University campus. He has an appointment in the University throughout this period  and becomes Professor of Biochemistry in 1962. 

He spends a year at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies and the Scripps Clinic and Research Foundation in La Jolla, California.

Robert Holley shares the 1968 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with Har G. Khorana and Marshall W. Nirenberg “for their interpretation of the genetic code and its function in protein synthesis"

Robert William Holley is born in Urbana, Illinois, one of four sons of Charles and Viola Holley. His parents are both educators. 

He then returns to Cornell University as Assistant Professor of Organic Chemistry at the Geneva Experiment Station in 1948. He later becomes Associate Professor there.

He attends public schools in Illinois, California and Idaho, and graduates from Urbana High School in 1938. 

Holley marries Ann Dworkin in 1945. They have one son.

After the sabbatical in California, Holley begins his research on RNA (Ribonucleic acid). These molecules perform vital roles in the coding, decoding, regulation and expression of genes. His team focuses on determining the sequence and structure of alanine tRNA. The work is completed in 1964; this is a key discovery in explaining the synthesis of proteins. Later the method is modified to help track the sequence of nucleotides in various bacterial, plant, and human viruses.

He rejoins the faculty of Cornell University full time in 1964 as Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.

He spends a sabbatical year at the Division of Biology at the California Institute of Technology.