Indian-born Nobel laureate elected President of the UK Royal Society

Indian-born Nobel laureate elected President of the UK Royal Society

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Nobel Laureate, Deputy Director of the British Medical Research Council’s Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, and Fellow of the Royal Society, Sir Venkatraman (Venki) Ramakrishnan has been confirmed as President Elect of the Royal Society. “It is a great honour,” said Dr. Ramakrishnan. “Unlike many others, this is given by your peers, by fellow scientists.” He said he was “especially touched” because he is an immigrant who came to the United Kingdom only 16 years ago from the US. “To be chosen for this position really reflects a wonderful tradition of openness that the Royal Society has always had since its inception,” said Dr Ramakrishnan. Dr. Ramakrishnan is the first India-born scientist to be elected President of the Royal Society, although he is part of a long tradition of illustrious Indian Fellows starting with Ardaseer Cursetjee, a Parsee engineer and industrialist who became a Fellow in 1841. The first Indian to be elected was the mathematician S. Ramanujan, followed by many others including J.C. Bose, C.V. Raman and Meghnad Saha.

Dr. Ramakrishnan will take over his new appointment on December  1, 2015, replacing the eminent geneticist Sir Paul Nurse, “one of the most articulate exponents of science that I have come across,” he said, adding, “His will be a very hard act to follow, but I will do my best.” Dr. Ramakrishnan’s work, which won him the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2009 (shared with Tom Steitz  and Ada Yonath),  is on the structure and function of the ribosome, the molecular machine that synthesizes proteins inside cell; and on the action of antibiotics on the process. Born in Chidambaram, and with a B.Sc. in physics from Baroda University, Dr. Ramakrishnan took his Ph.D. from Ohio University, USA. He moved to the LMB as a group leader in 1999. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 2003, and was knighted in 2012. The Royal Society is a self-governing fellowship of many of the world’s most distinguished scientists drawn from all areas of science, engineering, and medicine, set up to support excellence in science, and to encourage its use for the benefit of humanity.