06 December, 2020

Venkatraman Ramakrishnan

The Smart Biochemist - 61 years | Cambridge, UK

Venkatraman Ramakrishnan

“People go into science out of curiosity, not to win awards. But scientists are human and have ambitions. Even the best scientists are often insecure and feel the need for recognition,” writes Venkatraman Ramakrishnan, a 2009 Nobel laureate in chemistry, in his autobiographical article for the Nobel institution. Venkatraman’s journey to the acme of international recognition has largely been driven by focused curios­ity, unclouded by hunger for recognition. Peers would have seen some of his career decisions—forsaking an MBBS seat to do a BSc, for instance—as risky or unwise. Serendipity has brought him full circle: the Nobel he shared with Thomas A. Steitz and Ada E. Yonath “for studies in the structure and function of the ribosome” could influence the making of new antibiotics.

‘Venki’ was born in Chidambaram, Tamil Nadu, but grew up in Baroda. In the 1960s and 1970s, Baroda was a quaint town, still in the benign shade of its many banyan trees and its erstwhile Gaekwad rulers. His father was...



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