Series I. 10ᵗʰ Edition.
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Dr Venki Ramakrishnan, the recipient of the 2009 Nobel Prize in Chemistry and the 62nd President of The Royal Society, was the 2020 Speaker of the TNQ Distinguished Lectures in the Life Sciences. He gave lectures in Bengaluru, Mumbai, Chennai, and New Delhi in January 2020.
Venki Ramakrishnan was born in India, where he got his bachelor’s degree in physics from Baroda University. He moved to the USA in 1971 and received his Ph.D. in physics from Ohio University in 1976. By this time, however, Dr Ramakrishnan had become interested in biology. He therefore went to graduate school again, to study biology at the University of California, San Diego. In 1978, he began post-doctoral work with Peter Moore at Yale University, where he first began working on ribosomes — the large molecular machines in all cells that read instructions in our genes to make proteins.
From 1983-95 he was a staff scientist at Brookhaven National Laboratory before becoming a professor of biochemistry at the University of Utah. In 1999, he moved to his current position as a group leader at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, England.
After working on components of the ribosome for 15 years, Ramakrishnan’s lab began researching the structure of the entire 30S subunit of the ribosome in the mid-1990s. In 2000, his laboratory determined the atomic structure of the 30S ribosomal subunit and its complexes with ligands and antibiotics. This work has led to insights into how the ribosome “reads” the genetic code, as well as into various aspects of antibiotic function.
In the last few years,
Dr Ramakrishnan’s lab has determined the high-resolution structures of functional complexes of the entire ribosome at various stages along the translational pathway, which has led to insights into its role in protein synthesis during decoding, peptidyl transfer, translocation, and termination.
More recently his laboratory has been applying cryo-electron microscopy to study eukaryotic and mitochondrial translation.
From 1983-1998, Dr Ramakrishnan’s lab also worked on chromatin structure, determining the structure of the linker histone H1/H5, its location in the 30 nm chromatin filament, and the first structure of a histone modifying enzyme, the acetyl-transferase Hat1. He has also made contributions to methods for phasing crystallographic data using multiwavelength anomalous scattering.
Profile of Venki Ramakrishnan, Nobel Prize
Venki Ramakrishnan’s Nobel Lecture, Nobel Prize
Venki Ramakrishnan’s Slides, Nobel Prize
Venki Ramakrishnan’s Study, Nobel Prize
Structure of the Translational Apparatus, MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology
Profile of Venki Ramakrishnan, The Royal Society
The Story of Deciphering the Ribosome with Venki Ramakrishnan, The Royal Institution
Science Doesn’t Stop Because You Have Got a Big Award, The Hindu
Nobel Prize Winners Aren’t All That Bright, Mumbai Mirror
Indian Scientists Must Try to Work on Interesting Subjects, The Hindu