India-born Nobelist to debate science at Europe meet

Winner of the Nobel Chemistry for 2009 and the G N Ramachandran Professor at IISc since 2006, Venkatraman Ramakrishnan will debate science and progress with a galaxy of world’s science greats at the world’s second largest and Europe’s largest science conference, the Euroscience Open Forum 2014 at Copenhagen, Denmark. 

Ramakrishnan, who has inspired IISc’s faculty and students with his work in biology and chemistry, will interact with four other Nobel laureates on the relationship between science and society and what kind of science is best to follow, apart from strict technical discussions in the areas of chemistry and biology.

Ramakrishnan will interact with Ada Yonath, Weizmann Institute of Science, Daniel Kahnemann, Princeton University, Serge Haroche, Collège de France and Brian Schmidt, Australian National University.

The Nobel laureates will join global leaders in science policy and innovation such as European Commissioner Máire Geoghegan-Quinn and founding partner of Gehl Architects Jan Gehl to discuss the direction in which global research and innovation is developing.

Ramakrishnan, who won the Nobel along with Prof Yonath and Prof Thomas Steitz for his work on elucidating the structure and function of the 30S ribosome, has had a connection with IISc for many years. 

At IISc’s centenary celebrations in 2009, he delivered the centenary lecture tiltled ‘From Baroda to Cambridge - a life in science’. The lecture traced his journey from Convent of Jesus and Mary Girls’ High School, Baroda, to the MRC Laboratory for Molecular Biology, Cambridge, the UK where he is currently working. 

He was at the institute in 2010 and in 2013 too. In one of his lectures, Ramakrishnan is supposed to have said that he could not make it to any of the IITs or the Christian Medical College, Vellore, during his younger days. 

He had no inkling then that he would one day be Nobel laureate and part of Europe’s largest science conclave.

The meet last time, at Dublin, saw science stars like American geneticist, Craig Venter, inventor of life (he is supposed to have created a new organism out of an existing one) and Rolf-Dieter Hueur, the Director General of CERN. Hueur announced the discovery of Higgs Boson at the Euroscience meet in Dublin. 

It is quite possible that a major science announcement could be made at the Copenhagen meet.

Euroscience representatives say the idea behind the conference is to “build bridges between science and society” and “to make sure young people, in particular, become more interested in science and innovation”. The Euroscience meet is second only to the conference of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Policymakers and officials involved with science are expecting a massive 4,500 delegates and around 30,000 visitors to participate in the conference. 

At least three major themes would be addressed at the conference - The Healthy Society, A Revolution of the Mind and Learning in the 21st Century. 

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