Altman was married to Ann Korner in 1972. "The discovery of the first radiochemically pure precursor to a tRNA molecule enabled me to get a job as an assistant professor at Yale University in 1971 a difficult time to get any job at all. Mol Biosyst (2007 Sep) 3 (9): 604–7.
Cech for their work on the catalytic properties of RNA. In 1989 he shared the Nobel Prize in Chemistry with Thomas R.