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Indian Origin Scientist Shares Nobel Prize for Chemistry

ST Team
Monday, November 2, 2009
ST Team
An Indian origin American scientist, Venkatraman Ramakrishnan, shares the Nobel Prize in Chemistry this year with Thomas A. Steitz and Ada E. Yonath. They have been awarded for showing what the ribosome looks like and how it functions at the atomic level. All three have used a method called X-ray crystallography to map the position for each and every one of the hundreds of thousands of atoms that make up the ribosome. The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences says that the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for 2009 awards is given for the trio’s work on the ribosome, which forms a crucial part of human life.

Ramakrishnan was born in 1952 in Chidambaram, Tamil Nadu. He earned his B.Sc. degree in physics (1971) from Baroda University in Gujarat and later migrated to the U.S. to continue his studies where he got settled and obtained U.S. citizenship. He earned his Ph.D in physics from Ohio University in the U.S. and later worked as a graduate student at the University of California from 1976-78.

Ramakrishnan, known as Venki in school, was a bright student who had managed to make an impact on all his teachers. Josephine Lobo, his English teacher in class six, says, “He was one student who always knew all the correct answers. Venki came across as a soft-spoken, obedient, well-mannered and intelligent pupil.” Venki feels that it was in high school that he really became interested in science and thought it would be a good career for him. Both his parents are scientists so he was exposed to science early in his life. But he says that his father never pushed him to become a scientist; in fact, he wanted Venki to be a medical doctor.
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