7 Oct :Tamil Nadu-born Venkatraman Ramakrishnan, a senior scientist at the MRC Laborartory of Molecular Biology at Cambridge, has won the 2009 Nobel Prize for Chemistry along with two others, the Nobel Committee announced on Wednesday.
President Prathiba Devisingh Patil has hailed the achievement of Dr. Venkatraman Ramakrishnan saying that it is a matter of pride for India.
The minister of state for science and technology and earth sciences Prithviraj Chavan has also hailed the achievement.
Born in 1952 in Chidambaram, Ramakrishnan shares the Nobel prize with Thomas E Steitz (US) and Ada E Yonath (Israel) for their “studies of the structure and function of the ribosome”.
Ramakrishnan earned his B.Sc. in Physics (1971) from Baroda University and his Ph.D. in Physics (1976) from Ohio University.
He moved into biology at the University of California, San Diego, where he took a year of classes, then conducted research with Dr Mauricio Montal, a membrane biochemist.
With this 5.5 Angstrom-resolution structure, Ramakrishnan’s group identified key portions of the RNA and, using previously determined structures, positioned seven of the subunit’s proteins.
In the 21st September 2000 issue of Nature, Ramakrishnan published two papers. In the first of these, he presents the 3 Angstrom structure of the 30S ribosomal subunit.
His second paper reveals the structures of the 30S subunit in complex with three antibiotics that target different regions of the subunit. In this paper, Ramakrishnan discusses the structural basis for the action of each of these drugs.
After his postdoctoral fellowship, Ramakrishnan joined the staff of Brookhaven National Laboratory in the US. There, he began his collaboration with Stephen White to clone the genes for several ribosomal proteins and determine their three-dimensional structures.
He was also awarded a Guggenheim fellowship during his tenure there, and he used it to make the transition to X-ray crystallography.
Ramakrishnan moved to the University of Utah in 1995 to become a professor in the Department of Biochemistry. There, he initiated his studies on protein-RNA complexes and the entire 30S subunit.
He since moved to the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, where he is a Senior Scientist and Group Leader in the Structural Studies Division. He joins the list of several Nobel laureates who worked at the laboratory.