Venkatraman Ramakrishnan

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Venkatraman Ramakrishnan
Nobel Prize 2009-Press Conference KVA-08.jpg
Native name வெங்கட்ராமன் ராமகிருஷ்ணன்
Born 1952 (age 62–63)
Chidambaram, Tamil Nadu, India
Residence United Kingdom
Citizenship United States and United Kingdom
Fields Biochemistry and Biophysics
Institutions MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge, England
Trinity College, Cambridge
Alma mater Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda
Ohio University
University of California, San Diego
Known for Structure and function of the ribosome; macromolecular crystallography
Notable awards Louis-Jeantet Prize for Medicine (2007)
Nobel Prize in Chemistry (2009)
Padma Vibhushan (2010)

Sir Venkatraman "Venki" Ramakrishnan FRS[1] (Tamil: வெங்கட்ராமன் ராமகிருஷ்ணன்; born 1952) is an Indian-born American and British structural biologist, best known for his pioneering work on the ribosome. He currently works at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, England.[2][3] Upon the retirement of Paul Nurse, Ramakrishnan will take up the post of President of the Royal Society on November 30 2015.[4] In 2009 he shared the Nobel Prize in Chemistry with Thomas A. Steitz and Ada E. Yonath, "for studies of the structure and function of the ribosome".[5]

Early life[edit]

Ramakrishnan was born in Chidambaram in Cuddalore district of Tamil Nadu, India[6] to C. V. Ramakrishnan and R. Rajalakshmi. Both his parents were scientists and taught biochemistry at the Maharaja Sayajirao University in Baroda.[7] He moved to Vadodara (previously also known as Baroda) in Gujarat at the age of three, where he had his schooling at Convent of Jesus and Mary, 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 BSc degree in Physics in 1971.

In a lecture in January 2010 at the Indian Institute of Science, he revealed that he failed to get admitted to any of the Indian Institutes of Technology or the Christian Medical College, Vellore, Tamil Nadu.[8]

Immediately after graduation he moved to the U.S.A., where he obtained his PhD degree in Physics from Ohio University in 1976.[9][10] 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.[11]


Ramakrishnan began work on ribosomes as a postdoctoral fellow with Peter Moore at Yale University.[3] 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.[8]

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, where he had also been a sabbatical visitor during 1991-92.

In 2005, Ramakrishnan's laboratory published a 5.5 Angstrom resolution structure of the 30S subunit. The following year, his laboratory determined the complete molecular 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 in 2007 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 Member of the European Molecular Biology Organization since 2002 and a Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS) since 2003. He was elected a Member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences in 2004. In 2007, Ramakrishnan was awarded the Louis-Jeantet Prize for Medicine and the Datta Lectureship and Medal of the Federation of European Biochemical Societies (FEBS). In 2008, he won the Heatley Medal of the British Biochemical Society. Since 2008, he is a Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge and a foreign Fellow of the Indian National Science Academy. In 2009, Ramakrishnan was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry along with Thomas A. Steitz and Ada Yonath.[12] He received India's second highest civilian honor, the Padma Vibhushan, in 2010.[13] Ramakrishnan was knighted in the 2012 New Year Honours for services to Molecular Biology,[14] but does not generally use the title.[citation needed] In the same year, he was awarded the Sir Hans Krebs Medal by the FEBS. In 2013, he won the Spanish Jiménez-Diáz Prize. Ramakrishnan was included as one of 25 Greatest Global Living Indians by NDTV Channel, India on 14 December 2013.

Personal life[edit]

Ramakrishnan is married to Vera Rosenberry, an author and illustrator of children's books. His stepdaughter Tanya Kapka is a doctor in Oregon, and his son Raman Ramakrishnan is a cellist based in New York.[15]


A full list of publications can be found here.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ Nair, P. (2011). "Profile of Venkatraman Ramakrishnan". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 108 (38): 15676–15678. doi:10.1073/pnas.1113044108. PMC 3179092. PMID 21914843.  edit
  3. ^ a b "Venki Ramakrishnan Home Page". Laboratory of Molecular Biology. 2009. Retrieved 2009-10-07. 
  4. ^ Nature website "Structural biologist named president of UK Royal Society", accessed 23 March 2015
  5. ^ "2009 Chemistry Nobel Laureates". Nobel Foundation. 2009. Retrieved 2009-10-14. 
  6. ^ "Common root: Tamil Nadu gets its third laureate". Times of India. TNN. 8 October 2009. 
  7. ^
  8. ^ a b "Nobel laureate Venkat Ramakrishnan failed IIT, medical entrance tests". The Times Of India. 2010-01-05. 
  9. ^ "Venkatraman Ramakrishnan: A profile". Times of India. 2009-10-07. Retrieved 2009-10-07. 
  10. ^ "FACTBOX: Nobel chemistry prize – Who are the winners?". Reuters. 2009-10-07. Retrieved 2009-10-07. 
  11. ^ "Profile: Dr Venkatraman Ramakrishnan". Indian Express. 7 October 2009. Retrieved 2009-10-07. 
  12. ^ "All Nobel Laureates in Chemistry". Nobel Foundation. Retrieved 2009-10-07. 
  13. ^ "This Year's Padma Awards announced" (Press release). Ministry of Home Affairs. 25 January 2010. Retrieved 25 January 2010. 
  14. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 60009. p. 1. 31 December 2011.
  15. ^ 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 (Kolkata). Retrieved 2009-10-17. 

External links[edit]