Venkatraman Ramakrishnan

Venkatraman "Venki" Ramakrishnan (Tamil: வெங்கட்ராமன் ராமகிருஷ்ணன் FRS; born 1952 in Chidambaram, Tamil Nadu, India) is a structural biologist at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, England.[1] He received the 2009 Nobel Prize in Chemistry "for studies of the structure and function of the ribosome".[2]

Early life

Venkatraman Ramakrishnan was born in Chidambaram in Cuddalore district of Tamil Nadu, India.[3]

He moved to Baroda (Vadodara) in Gujarat state at the age of three, where he had his schooling, except for spending 1960–61 in Adelaide, Australia. Following his Pre-Science at the Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda, he did his undergraduate studies in the same university on a National Science Talent Scholarship, graduating with a B.Sc. in Physics in 1971.

In a January 2010 lecture at the Indian Institute of Science, he revealed that he failed to get a seat at any of the colleges of the Indian Institutes of Technology, and Christian Medical College, Vellore, Tamil Nadu.[4]

Immediately after graduation he moved to the U.S.A., where he obtained his Ph.D. in Physics from Ohio University in 1976.[5][6] He then spent two years studying biology as a graduate student at the University of California, San Diego while making a transition from theoretical physics to biology.[7]


Ramakrishnan began work on ribosomes as a postdoctoral fellow with Peter Moore at Yale University.[1] After his post-doctoral fellowship, he initially could not find a faculty position even though he had applied to about 50 universities in the U.S.[4]

He continued to work on ribosomes from 1983-95 as a staff scientist at Brookhaven National Laboratory. In 1995 he moved to the University of Utah as a Professor of Biochemistry, and in 1999, he moved to his current position at the Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, England.

In 1999, Ramakrishnan's laboratory published a 5.5 Angstrom resolution structure of the 30S subunit. The following year, his laboratory determined the complete atomic structure of the 30S subunit of the ribosome and its complexes with several antibiotics. This was followed by studies that provided structural insights into the mechanism that ensures the fidelity of protein biosynthesis. More recently, his laboratory has determined the atomic structure of the whole ribosome in complex with its tRNA and mRNA ligands. Ramakrishnan is also known for his past work on histone and chromatin structure.


Ramakrishnan is a Fellow of the Royal Society, a member of EMBO and the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and a Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge. He was awarded the 2007 Louis-Jeantet Prize for Medicine, the 2008 Heatley Medal of the British Biochemical Society and the 2009 Rolf-Sammet Professorship at the University of Frankfurt. In 2009, Ramakrishnan was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry along with Thomas A. Steitz and Ada Yonath.[8] He received India's second highest civilian honor, the Padma Vibhushan, in 2010.[9]

Personal life

Ramakrishnan is married to Vera Rosenberry, an author and illustrator of children's books. He has a stepdaughter, Tanya Kapka, who is a doctor in Oregon, and a son, Raman Ramakrishnan, who is a cellist based in New York who plays with the Daedalus Quartet.[10]


A full list of publications can be found here


1. ^ a b "Venki Ramakrishnan Home Page". Laboratory of Molecular Biology. 2009. Retrieved 2009-10-07.
2. ^ "2009 Chemistry Nobel Laureates". Nobel Foundation. 2009. Retrieved 2009-10-14.
3. ^ "Common root: Tamil Nadu gets its third laureate". TNN. Times of India. 8 October 2009.,prtpage-1.cms.
4. ^ a b
5. ^ "Venkatraman Ramakrishnan: A profile". Times of India.,prtpage-1.cms. Retrieved 2009-10-07.
6. ^ "FACTBOX: Nobel chemistry prize – Who are the winners?". Reuters. Retrieved 2009-10-07.
7. ^ "Profile: Dr Venkatraman Ramakrishnan". Indian Express. 7 October 2009. Retrieved 2009-10-07.
8. ^ "All Nobel Laureates in Chemistry". Nobel Foundation. Retrieved 2009-10-07.
9. ^ Ministry of Home Affairs (25 January 2010). "This Year's Padma Awards announced". Press release. Retrieved 25 January 2010.
10. ^ Amit Roy (17-Oct-2009). "‘Venki’ makes light of India link – Winner says not to treat science like cricket; league of misses grows". The Telegraph. Retrieved 2009-10-17.

External links

* Biography and Bibliographic Resources, from the Office of Scientific and Technical Information, United States Department of Energy
* Venki Ramakrishnan, homepage at MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology.
* Venkatraman Ramakrishnan Audio Interview Official Nobel Foundation website telephone interview.

List of chemists

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