Fellow: Awarded 1991
Field of Study: Molecular and Cellular Biology
Competition: US & Canada
Venkatraman Ramakrishnan is a Senior Scientist, Group Leader, and Joint Head of the Structural Studies Division of the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, England. He is a cowinner, with Thomas A. Steitz and Ada E. Yonath, of the 2009 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for their “studies of the structure and function of the ribosome.”
Born in Chidambaram, India, Mr. Ramakrishnan received a B.Sc. in physics from Baroda University (1971) before coming to the United States to continue his physics studies at Ohio University, where he earned an M.Sc. (1974) and Ph.D. (1976) in that field. After two years’ study in biology at the University of California, San Diego, he then spent two years as an NIH postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Chemistry at Yale University, where he worked on ribosome structure using neutron scattering.
In 1983, he began his professional career, accepting a position as an assistant biophysicist in the biology department at Brookhaven National Laboratory, advancing to senior biophysicist in 1994. It was during his time at Brookhaven that he won his Guggenheim Fellowship; during his Fellowship term he studied the crystallographic structure of the globular domains of histones H5 and H1. He became a United States citizen in 1985. He worked for four years as a Professor of Biochemistry at the University of Utah before accepting in 1999 his current appointment at MRC.
His expertise in the structure and function of ribosomes has received wide international recognition. He was invited to give the Stetten Lecture at NIH (2000); the Joseph Black Lecture at Glasgow University (2001); the Mill Hill Lecture at the National Institute for Medical Research, in London (2001); the Dahlem Lecture at the Max Planck Institute in Berlin (2001); the Distinguished Visitor Lecture at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) (2002); and the Linné Lecture at Uppsala University in 2004, among many others. In 2009 alone, he was invited to give the Dintzis Lecture at Johns Hopkins University and the Mendel Lecture in Brno, Czech Republic. In addition, he is currently on the editorial board of both Cell and PNAS and is a member of the scientific advisory committee of the Research Institute of Molecular Pathology (IMP) in Vienna.
Mr. Ramakrishnan has received the Louis Jeantet Prize for Medicine (2007), the Datta Medal and Lecutre at the 2007 FEBS annual meeting in Vienna, and the British Biochemical Society’s Heatley Medal (2008). He is an elected member of EMBO (2002) and the National Academy of Sciences USA (2004), and an elected foreign member of the Indian National Science Academy (2008). He is also a Fellow of the Royal Society and of Trinity College, Cambridge.