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Venkatraman Ramakrishnan

Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2009

Year of election: 2010
Section: Biochemistry and Biophysics
City: Cambridge
Country: Great Britain
CV Venkatraman Ramakrishnan - Deutsch (pdf)
CV Venkatraman Ramakrishnan - English (pdf)


Major Scientific Interests: Ribosomes, protein biosynthesis, proteins, translation, crystal structure, antibiotics

Venkatraman Ramakrishnan received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry along with Thomas A. Seitz and Ada Yonath in 2009. The three scientists decoded the ribosome, the cell’s protein factory. They described the three-dimensional structure of ribosomes and the mechanism of protein production.

Ribosomes are molecular complexes that consist of hundreds of thousands of atoms, which are in turn divided into two subunits. During protein biosynthesis, or translation, ribosomes translate genetic information into proteins. Proteins carry out a wide range of tasks within an organism and are responsible for the entire metabolism. With his research, Ramakrishnan has contributed to our understanding of translation. Using X-ray structure analysis, he investigated the ribosomes of the bacterium Thermus thermophilus and, in the same year as Yonath, decoded the structure of the smaller subunit. Almost at the same time, Seitz published the first description of the larger subunit’s crystal structure. The insights of these three researchers have contributed to our understanding of protein genesis – one of the fundamental processes of life.

In another research paper, Ramakrishnan investigated the relationship of the ribosomal subunit to various antibiotic agents. Many antibiotic substances dock at the ribosomes of bacteria, thereby blocking them. However, some substances have ceased to be effective, and the increasing rate of antibiotic resistance presents a challenge for medicine. Ramakrishnan and his colleagues hope that their research can be used to develop a new generation of antibiotic agents. The goal is to find substances that inhibit the protein synthesis of bacterial ribosomes in a more targeted way, that put pathogens out of commission, and that lead to fewer cases of resistance.


  • since 2015 President of the Royal Society, UK
  • 2006-2008 Fellow, Trinity College, Cambridge, UK
  • since 1999 Group Leader, Laboratory for Molecular Biology, Medical Research Council, Cambridge, UK
  • 1995-1999 Professor for Biochemistry, University of Utah, USA
  • 1983-1995 Research assistant, Department of Biology, Brookhaven National Laboratory, USA
  • 1982-1983 Research assistant, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, USA
  • 1978-1982 Postdoc in Chemistry, Yale University, New Haven, USA
  • 1976-1978 Studies in Biology, University of California, San Diego, USA
  • 1976 Ph.D. in Physics, Ohio University, USA
  • 1971 Bachelor degree in Physics, Maharaja Sayajirao University, Baroda, India


  • since 2008 Member, Scientific Advisory Board, Research Institute of Molecular Pathology (IMP), Vienna, Austria
  • since 2004 Member, Scientific Advisory Board, Rib-X Pharmaceuticals
  • 2002-2006 Member, Scientific Advisory Board, European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL), Heidelberg, Germany

Honours and Memberships

  • 2012 Knighted, New Year Honours
  • 2010 Padma Vibhushan, second highest civilian award in the Republic of India
  • since 2010 Member, German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina
  • 2009 Rolf-Sammet-Professor, University of Frankfurt
  • 2009 Nobel Prize in Chemistry along with Thomas A. Seitz und Ada Yonath
  • 2008 External Member, Indian National Science Academy
  • 2008 Heatley Medal, British Biochemical Society
  • 2007 Datta Medal, Federation of European Biochemical Societies (FEBS)
  • 2007Prix Louis Jeantet de Médecine
  • since 2004 Member, US National Academy of Sciences
  • 2003 Fellow, Royal Society
  • since 2002 Member, European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO)
  • 1991-1992 Guggenheim Scholarship




Emil-Abderhalden-Str. 35
06108 Halle (Saale)

Phone 0345 - 47 239 - 122
Fax 0345 - 47 239 - 139
E-Mail archiv @leopoldina.org

Academia Net

Profiles of Leading Women Scientists on AcademiaNet – an initiative of the Robert Bosch Stiftung.