'Venky' is 13th Nobel winner at Cambridge lab


A senior research fellow at Trinity College, Ramakrishnan shares the 2009 Nobel prize for Chemistry with Thomas E Steitz and Ada E Yonath for their work in the study of the structure and function of the ribosome.

Previous Nobel winners at the laboratory are: Fred Sanger (1958), Max Perutz (1962), John Kendrew (1962), Francis Crick (1962), Jim Watson (1962), Fred Sanger (1980), Aaron Klug (1982), Georges Kohler (1984), Cesar Milstein (1984), John Walker (1997)Sydney Brenner (2002), John Sulston (2002) and Rober Horwitz (2002).

Ramakrishnan, now a US citizen, started as a theoretical physicist and later moved to biology.

He earned his BSc in Physics (1971) from Baroda University and his PhD in Physics (1976) from Ohio University.

He says: "I am interested in the structure and function of the translational machinery, which makes proteins in all cells using instructions encoded in the gene. This process involves the ribosome and its interaction with mRNA, tRNA and various protein factors".

Winner of several accolades and author of academic papers, Ramakrishnan is known for his work on determination of the three-dimensional structure of the small ribosomal subunit and its complexes with substrates and antibiotics, which has shed light on the mechanism that ensures the fidelity of protein synthesis, and for his work on the structures of chromatin-related proteins.

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