Monday, 22 November 2010

Venkataraman Ramakrishnan





Born On: 1952
Born In: Chidambaram in Cuddalore District, Tamil Nadu
Career: Structural Biologist
Nationality: American

Indian born American, Venkataraman Ramakrishnan is a senior scientist in the Structural Division at the Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology, in Cambridge, England. This great scholar has worked in various fields of biology during the earlier part of his career. However, Venkat along with Thomas A. Steitz and Ada E. Yonath were honored with the Nobel Prize for their spectacular work in cellular machines called ribosomes. Ramakrishnan started out as theoretical physicist before his interest shifted to organelles. Previously, he had also worked closely with histone and chromatin structures that earned him much success. Over the years, he has been the co-author of more than a few scientific journals on ribosomes and its structure. Although Mr. Venkataraman migrated to the U.S., his name still shines among the people in India, for his contributions to science. Apart from his interest in scientific research, he loves to listen to Carnatic music. To know more on Venkataraman Ramakrishnan, go through the sections below. 

Early Life

Venkataraman Ramakrishnan was born to C.V. Ramakrishnan and Rajalakshmi in a town called Chidambaram belonging to the Cuddalore District of Tamil Nadu. Both his parents were scientists and lecturers in Biochemistry at the Maharaj Sayajirao University in Baroda, Gujarat. 

He did his schooling from Convent of Jesus and Mary in Baroda. After his preliminary education, he continued his pre-university at the Maharaja Sayajirao University. From here, he obtained an undergraduate degree in Physics in 1971. He also received the National Science Talent Scholarship. 

Later, Venkataraman migrated to America to continue his further studies. In 1976, he earned his Ph.D. in Physics from Ohio University. He changed his field into biology at the University of California, San Diego. Here, he conducted research along with Dr. Mauricio Montal. 

During this time, Venkataraman got married to Vera Rosenberry, an author of children's' books. The couple has two children - a step daughter, Tanya Kapka who is a doctor in Oregon and a son, Raman Ramakrishnan, a cellist who plays with Daedalus Quartet. 

Career 

Venkataraman Ramakrishnan began his career as a postdoctoral fellow with Peter Moore at Yale University, where he worked on ribosomes. After completing this research, he applied to nearly 50 universities in the U.S. for a faculty position. But he was unsuccessful. As a result of this, Venkataraman continued to work on ribosomes from 1983 to 1995 in Brookhaven National Laboratory. 

In 1995, he got an offer from University of Utah to work as a professor of Biochemistry. He worked here for almost four years and then moved to England where he started working in Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology. Here, he began a detailed research on ribosomes. 

In 1999, along with his fellow mates, he published a 5.5 angstrom resolution structure of 30s subunit of ribosome. In the subsequent year, Venkataraman submitted a complete structure of 30s subunit of ribosome and it created a sensation in structural biology. Following this, he conducted several studies on these cell organelles and its mechanism. Recently, he determined the complete structure of ribosomes along with the tRNA and mRNa. 

Awards And Accolades

Venkataraman earned a fellowship from the Trinity College, Cambridge and the Royal Society. He is also an honorary member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences. In 2007, he was awarded with the Louis-Jeantet Prize for his contribution to Medicine. 

In 2008, he was presented with Heatley Medal of British Biochemistry Society. In 2009, Venkataraman Ramakrishnan, along with two other scientists were awarded with the Nobel Prize for their major breakthrough made in the area of ribosomes. 

For his contribution to Science, he was conferred with India's second highest civilian award, the Padma Vibhushan in 2010. 

Timeline

1952: Venkataraman Ramakrishnan was born in a small district of Tamil Nadu. 
1971: He obtained an undergraduate degree in Physics.
1976: Received a Ph.D. from Ohio University. 
1983-1995: Continued his studies on ribosomes in Brookhaven National Laboratory. 
1995: Got an offer to work as a professor of Biochemistry in the University of Utah. 
1999: Published a 5.5 angstrom structure resolution structure of 3s subunit of a ribosome.
2007: Awarded the Louis-Jeantet Prize for his work in Medicine. 
2008: Given the Heatley Medal of British Biochemistry Society. 
2009: Received Nobel Prize for his work on ribosomes. 
2010: Recipient of the Padma Vibhushan for his contributions to Science

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