Har Gobind Khorana was born in a poor family but his father insisted on providing him a good education. Early on he went to a local school where he was educated under a tree by a village teacher; his father also taught him at home. His family was in fact the only literate one in the whole village. He went to the D.A.V High School in Multan where he was greatly influenced by his teacher, Ratan Lal. He earned a scholarship to study chemistry at the Punjab University, Lahore.
He completed his B.Sc in 1943 and M.Sc in 1945. A brilliant student, he was awarded a scholarship by the Government of India to study at the University of Liverpool. He went to England where he worked for a Ph.D degree at the University of Liverpool under the supervision of Roger J.S. Beer. It was the first time he had traveled outside India and this experience was his introduction to Western culture. He earned his Ph.D in 1948.
He received a job offer from Dr. Gordon M Shrum of the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, in 1952. He accepted even though the British Columbia Research Council did not offer many facilities for research. In 1960, he accepted a position at the Institute for Enzyme Research at the University of Wisconsin. During the 1960s he delved deeper into his experiments in nucleic acids found in RNA, a chemical that translates the genetic information contained in DNA. RNA is composed of four chemical bases represented by the letters A, C, U, and G. He was successful in constructing the first ever artificial gene in 1972. A few years later he made the artificial gene function in a bacteria cell. Genetic engineering has been made possible only due to the ability to synthesize DNA. During his later years he experimented on the molecular mechanisms underlying the cell signaling pathways of vision in vertebrates. He primarily studied the structure and function of rhodospin, a light sensitive protein found in the eye.