Indian-American Venkatraman Ramakrishnan, 57, has won this year’s Nobel Prize in chemistry, the Nobel Foundation announced on Wednesday. He shares it with Thomas Steitz, an American, and Ada Yonath, an Israeli.
Well known as ‘Venky’ in India’s scientific circles, Ramakrishnan, has been a visiting lecturer at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) Bangalore, for many years. He was born and schooled at Chidambaram, Tamil Nadu and graduated from M.S. University in Vadodara, Gujarat, before moving to the United States for his Ph.D. from Ohio University.
He is the seventh person of Indian origin to win the Nobel.
“People here are very excited,” said P. Balaram, director of IISc. “His is one of the most magnificent pieces of work in structural biology.”
The three scientists won the prize for their research into ribosomes, which are protein-producing structures found in all cells. Ramakrishnan used X-ray crystallography — the same method used by the discoverers of DNA — to map the thousands of microscopic atoms that make up a ribosome.
The Nobel committee described ribosomal protein synthesis as “one of life’s core processes.” Antibiotics based on Ramakrishnan’s model will save lives and decrease suffering, the Committee added.