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)[1]
Chidambaram, Tamil Nadu, India
Other names Venki Ramakrishnan
Residence United Kingdom
Citizenship United States and United Kingdom
Alma mater
Thesis The Green Function Theory of the Ferroelectric Phase Transition in Potassium Dihydrogen-Phosphate (1976)
Doctoral advisor Tomoyasu Tanaka[1][4]
Known for
Notable awards
Spouse Vera Rosenberry (m. 1975)[1]
Children 1 son, 1 stepdaughter[1]

Venkatraman Ramakrishnan (born 1952), often known as Venki Ramakrishnan, is an Indian-born American and British structural biologist. In 2009 he shared the Nobel Prize in Chemistry with Thomas A. Steitz and Ada Yonath, "for studies of the structure and function of the ribosome".[3][6][7][8][9][10] As of 2015 he works at the Medical Research Council (MRC) Laboratory of Molecular Biology (LMB) in Cambridge, UK.[11] On November 30, 2015, Ramakrishnan took up the post of President of the Royal Society succeeding his predecessor in the role, Paul Nurse.[12]

Education and early life[edit]

Ramakrishnan was born in Chidambaram in Cuddalore district of Tamil Nadu, India[13] to C. V. Ramakrishnan and Ramakrishnan Rajalakshmi.[1] Both his parents were scientists, and his father was head of department of biochemistry at the Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda.[1][14][15] At the time of his birth, Ramakrishnan's father was away from India doing postdoctoral research with David E. Green at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.[1] His mother obtained a PhD in Psychology from McGill University in 1959[16] which she completed in only 18 months, and was mentored by Donald O. Hebb.[1] Ramakrishnan 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 Bachelor of Science degree in Physics in 1971.[8] At the time, the physics course at Baroda was new, and based in part on The Berkeley Physics Course and The Feynman Lectures on Physics.[1]

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.[17]

Immediately after graduation he moved to the U.S.A., where he obtained his PhD degree in Physics from Ohio University in 1976 for research into the ferroelectric phase transition of Potassium Dihydrogen Phosphate (KDP)[18] supervised by Tomoyasu Tanaka.[4][19][20] 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.[21]


Ramakrishnan began work on ribosomes as a postdoctoral fellow with Peter Moore at Yale University.[8] 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.[17]

He continued to work on ribosomes from 1983-95 as a staff scientist at Brookhaven National Laboratory.[2] 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.

As of 2015 his most cited papers (according to Scopus[22]) have been published in Nature,[23][24][25] Science,[26][27] and Cell.[28][29][30]

Awards and honours[edit]

Ramakrishnan was elected a Member of the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO) in 2002[31] and a Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS) in 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.[32] He received India's second highest civilian honor, the Padma Vibhushan, in 2010.[33] Ramakrishnan was knighted in the 2012 New Year Honours for services to Molecular Biology,[34] but does not generally use the title 'Sir'.[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. His certificate of election to the Royal Society reads:

Personal life[edit]

Ramakrishnan married Vera Rosenberry in 1975,[1] 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.[35]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q "Venkatraman Ramakrishnan - Biography: From Chidambaram to Cambridge: A Life in Science". Stockholm: Archived from the original on 2015-04-18. 
  2. ^ a b Cerf, Corinne; Lippens, Guy; Muyldermans, Serge; Segers, Alain; Ramakrishnan, V.; Wodak, Shoshana J.; Hallenga, Klaas; Wyns, Lode (1993). "Homo- and heteronuclear two-dimensional NMR". Biochemistry (American Chemical Society) 32 (42): 11345–11351. doi:10.1021/bi00093a011. Retrieved 2015-06-17. 
  3. ^ a b RAMAKRISHNAN, Sir Venkatraman. Who's Who 2015 (online Oxford University Press ed.). A & C Black, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc.  (subscription required)
  4. ^ a b Ramakrishnan, Venkatraman; Tanaka, Tomoyasu (1977). "Green's-function theory of the ferroelectric phase transition in potassium dihydrogen phosphate (KDP)". Physical Review B (American Physical Society) 16 (1): 422–426. doi:10.1103/physrevb.16.422. Retrieved 2015-06-17. 
  5. ^ a b "Venkatraman Ramakrishnan: Certificate of Election EC/2003/31". London: The Royal Society. 2003. Archived from the original on 2015-06-18. 
  6. ^ "2009 Chemistry Nobel Laureates". Nobel Foundation. 2009. Retrieved 2009-10-14. 
  7. ^ Rodnina, Marina V.; Wintermeyer, Wolfgang (2010). "The ribosome goes Nobel". Trends in Biochemical Sciences (Elsevier BV) 35 (1): 1–5. doi:10.1016/j.tibs.2009.11.003. Retrieved 2015-06-17. 
  8. ^ a b c "Venkatraman_Ramakrishnan". University of Cambridge. Archived from the original on 2015-04-19. 
  9. ^ Biography and Bibliographic Resources, from the Office of Scientific and Technical Information, United States Department of Energy
  10. ^ Venkatraman Ramakrishnan Audio Interview Official Nobel Foundation website telephone interview
  11. ^ Nair, Prashant (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.  open access publication - free to read
  12. ^ Peplow, M. (2015). "Structural biologist named president of UK Royal Society". Nature. doi:10.1038/nature.2015.17153. 
  13. ^ "Common root: Tamil Nadu gets its third laureate". Times of India. TNN. 8 October 2009. 
  14. ^
  15. ^ Ramakrishnan, C. V.; Banerjee, B. N. (1951). "Mould Lipase: Effect of Addition of Vitamins and Sterol to the Cake Medium on the Growth and the Activity of the Lipolytic Mould". Nature 168 (4282): 917–918. doi:10.1038/168917a0. 
  16. ^ Ramakrishnan, Rajalakshmi (1959). Comparative Effects of Successive and Simultaneous Presentation on Transfer in Verbal Learning (PhD thesis). McGill University. 
  17. ^ a b "Nobel laureate Venkat Ramakrishnan failed IIT, medical entrance tests". The Times Of India. 2010-01-05. 
  18. ^ Ramakrishnan, Venkatraman (1976). The Green function theory of the ferroelectric phase transition in KDP (PhD thesis). Ohio University. OCLC 3079828. 
  19. ^ "Venkatraman Ramakrishnan: A profile". Times of India. 2009-10-07. Retrieved 2009-10-07. 
  20. ^ "FACTBOX: Nobel chemistry prize – Who are the winners?". Reuters. 2009-10-07. Retrieved 2009-10-07. 
  21. ^ "Profile: Dr Venkatraman Ramakrishnan". Indian Express. 7 October 2009. Retrieved 2009-10-07. 
  22. ^ Venkatraman Ramakrishnan's publications indexed by the Scopus bibliographic database, a service provided by Elsevier.
  23. ^ Ramakrishnan, V.; Wimberly, Brian T.; Brodersen, Ditlev E.; Clemons, William M.; Morgan-Warren, Robert J.; Carter, Andrew P.; Vonrhein, Clemens; Hartsch, Thomas (2000). "Structure of the 30S ribosomal subunit". Nature 407 (6802): 327–339. doi:10.1038/35030006. PMID 11014182. 
  24. ^ Ramakrishnan, V.; Carter, Andrew P.; Clemons, William M.; Brodersen, Ditlev E.; Morgan-Warren, Robert J.; Wimberly, Brian T. (2000). "Functional insights from the structure of the 30S ribosomal subunit and its interactions with antibiotics". Nature 407 (6802): 340–348. doi:10.1038/35030019. PMID 11014183. 
  25. ^ Ramakrishnan, V.; Finch, J. T.; Graziano, V.; Lee, P. L.; Sweet, R. M. (1993). "Crystal structure of globular domain of histone H5 and its implications for nucleosome binding". Nature 362 (6417): 219–223. doi:10.1038/362219a0. PMID 8384699. 
  26. ^ Ogle, J. M.; Brodersen, DE; Clemons, WM Jr; Tarry, MJ; Carter, AP; Ramakrishnan, V (2001). "Recognition of Cognate Transfer RNA by the 30S Ribosomal Subunit". Science (New York) 292 (5518): 897–902. doi:10.1126/science.1060612. PMID 11340196. 
  27. ^ Semenza, C; Butterworth, B; Panzeri, M; Ferreri, T (1990). "Word formation: New evidence from aphasia". Neuropsychologia 28 (5): 499–502. PMID 1695997. 
  28. ^ Brodersen, Ditlev E.; Clemons, William M.; Carter, Andrew P.; Morgan-Warren, Robert J.; Wimberly, Brian T.; Ramakrishnan, V. (2000). "The Structural Basis for the Action of the Antibiotics Tetracycline, Pactamycin, and Hygromycin B on the 30S Ribosomal Subunit". Cell 103 (7): 1143–1154. doi:10.1016/s0092-8674(00)00216-6. PMID 11163189. 
  29. ^ Ramakrishnan, V. (2002). "Ribosome Structure and the Mechanism of Translation". Cell 108 (4): 557–572. doi:10.1016/s0092-8674(02)00619-0. PMID 11909526. 
  30. ^ Ogle, James M.; Murphy, Frank V.; Tarry, Michael J.; Ramakrishnan, V. (2002). "Selection of tRNA by the Ribosome Requires a Transition from an Open to a Closed Form". Cell 111 (5): 721–732. doi:10.1016/s0092-8674(02)01086-3. PMID 12464183. 
  31. ^ "The EMBO Pocket Directory" (PDF). European Molecular Biology Organization. Archived from the original on 2015-03-16. 
  32. ^ "All Nobel Laureates in Chemistry". Nobel Foundation. Retrieved 2009-10-07. 
  33. ^ "This Year's Padma Awards announced" (Press release). Ministry of Home Affairs. 25 January 2010. Retrieved 25 January 2010. 
  34. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 60009. p. 1. 31 December 2011.
  35. ^ 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.