Venkatraman “Venki” Ramakrishnan, an India-born structural biologist whose quest for scientific excellence took him from undergraduate schools in India to graduate and post-doc studies in US and research in UK, has been named a joint winner of the Nobel prize in chemistry for helping to discover how cells transform genetic code into living matter. He is currently affiliated with the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, UK
Ramakrishnan, 57, shares the award – and 10m Swedish kronor (£900,000) – with Thomas Steitz at Yale University, Connecticut, and Ada Yonath, the first Israeli woman to win a Nobel prize, at the Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot.
Ramakrishnan was born in the temple town of Chidambaram in Tamil Nadu in 1952. When he was two, his parents moved to Gujarat.
Both his parents, father C.V. Ramakrishnan and mother Rajalakshmi, were scientists and taught biochemistry at the Maharaj Sayajirao University until they retired in the eighties. The elder Ramakrishnan, now 85, lives in Seattle, where daughter Lalita – also a scientist – teaches. Rajalakshmi, who did pioneering work on developing child nutrition in India, passed away two years ago.
My son has always followed his heart: Times of India spoke to his father.