Archive for October, 2009

“Well, you know, I thought it was an elaborate joke. I have friends who play practical jokes,” Ramakrishnan told The Associated Press by telephone from his lab in Cambridge. “I complimented him on his Swedish accent.”

Ramakrishnan described his work on ribosomes as an attempt to understand “this large molecular machine that takes information from genes and uses it to stitch together protein.”

He said he and others had been using X-ray crystallography to build an “atomic picture of this enormous machine.”

“Now we can start figure out how it does this complicated process,” he said. Yahoo News

Associated Press newsphoto, via Times of India.

Associated Press newsphoto, via Times of India.

Congratulations Dr. Ramakrishnan!

Joint-winner of 2009 Nobel Prize for Chemistry. For his work on a neutron-scattering map of the RNA of ribosomes, the protein-making structures in cells.

What follows is a modest compendium of links, pics, quotes and news clips.

I am interested in the structure and function of the translational machinery, which makes proteins in all cells using instructions encoded in the gene. This process involves the ribosome and its interaction with mRNA, tRNA and various protein factors. US National Academy of Sciences Member Directory.

THE RIBOSOME PAGE of Dr. Ramakrshnan’s research lab is a delight! If you visit their site, don’t miss short animation movie about protein synthesis in a ribosome. It’s a fun way to learn about his work and what it implies.


From Dr. Ramakrishnan's Lab - Click on image for Animation Film

Times of India, profile.

Ramakrishnan shares the 2009 Nobel Prize for Chemistry with Thomas A Steitz of Yale University and Ada E Yonath of the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel.

Sir Leszek Borysiewicz, chief executive of the Medical Research Council, said: “We are absolutely delighted that Dr Ramakrishnan’s work has been recognized with the 2009 Nobel Prize for Chemistry. Venky’s award is the Medical Research Council’s 29th Nobel Prize and is a reflection of the excellent work that our scientists do. Times of India.

Ada Yonath of Israel is one of only four women, since Madame Curie, of the pitchblend fame (1898) to win the Nobel in Chemistry.

To listen the MAN himself, Dr. Ramakrishnan talks on the telephone with the official Nobel staffer, a traditional phone call now available online here. This is a highly recommended audio, specially the last one minute! IU can’t wait for it to be on youtube!

For the truly curious, LiveMint of WSJ, has an audio podcast here, that explains Ribosomes and all. Umesh Varshney of Bangalore explains it all. A nice little science talk, recommended.

Scienceblogs has a very nice explanation of the explanation from the Committee as to why the research of these three scientists deserved the Nobel award.

Reuters video of the live announcement. Nice.

IndiaTimes announcement video can be seen here. Caution: If you are used to world class media at all, this Indian-style news video will cause your mind to explode with its incomprehensible accent, inane graphics, and staccato delivery. Enjoy it, a little jingoism doesn’t hurt, eh!

Some thoughts on Indian Nobelists:

Another Indian settled abroad wins a Nobel Prize!

IU is thrilled, of course. There is the thrilling notion of a culture that continues to exercise creative, constructive influence even as, around us in the world, other cultures continue to spur adherents in destructive ways. Hopefully, this constitutes a true difference. On the other hand, why are not the Nobels won for work done IN India. Why do Indians win only when they leave the land and work elsewhere. Please, don’t blame the infrastructure or colonialism. Even Literature prize has gone to an expat, generations removed, and may someday do so again (to a Booker winning expat, no less).

IU will be even more thrilled if the Nobel goes someday to someone who actually worked on Indian soil, in an Indian laboratory, at an Indian institution. When such a day does arrive, IU hopes the winner doesn’t turn out to be a Haldane or a Ross. That would be rich irony!  Granted, science is truly global and color-blind, but the culture of the people who produce the scientists is very regional and ethnic. How people organize their hearts and minds does, matter.

IU will be waiting with a bated breath, for that day when a Nobel is won by an Indian who has never left the shores. That would have been the sort of land that Tagore was praying for. (Ahh, unwittingly, we come full circle back to him, our first (1913) Nobelist!)

A few more thoughts along these lines – it’s not the water! – can be found here.


Maps of India has a nice round up of India’s claim to Nobel fame.

India Unfinished, continues…


And leave it to Indians to dramatize every bit of life .. including one scientist’s inclination to lead the quiet life of science research. Details at Asian Window.


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