Nobel Laureate Ramakrishnan arrives for India tour

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Nobel Laureate Venkatraman Ramakrishnan arrived in India on Monday, ahead of a four-city lecture tour this month. He was in Lahore, Pakistan, to deliver a scientific lecture, and arrived in India via the Wagah-Attari border on Monday.

“It’s good to be back in India and I’m looking forward to my lecture tour,” Professor Ramakrishnan, who is President, Royal Society of London, said in a video message, uploaded on Instagram by his communications team.

Dr. Ramakrishnan, recipient of the 2009 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, will be the 2020 Speaker of the TNQ Distinguished Lectures in the Life Sciences. It will be the tenth edition of this lecture series.

India-born Dr. Ramakrishnan will be lecturing in Bengaluru, Mumbai, Chennai and New Delhi.

Research life
Professor Ramakrishnan has spent most of his research life on the ribosome, the cell structure necessary for making protein, and his proposed lecture, ‘My Adventures in the Ribosome’ is expected to be about his scientific journey. He also wrote a popular science book, The Gene Machine, explaining his work, the road to the Nobel Prize, and the competition among various research groups to figure out the ribosome’s structure.

Dr. Ramakrishnan has not shied away from political statements. Last month, in an interview with The Telegraph in London, he criticized the Citizenship Amendment Act, which discriminates against Muslim refugees to India. “We are not Pakistan. We are different in that we are secular…India is taking a wrong turn,” the newspaper reported.

The Nobel Laureate schooled in India but holds dual British-American citizenship.

Significant impact
The annual TNQ lectures are delivered by scientists who have made a significant impact on the Life Sciences. Previous speakers have included Shinya Yamanaka, 2012 Nobel Laureate in Physiology or Medicine. He won the prize along with John Gurdon for the discovery that mature cells can be converted to stem cells. The 2017 lecture was delivered by Mary-Claire King, a University of Washington geneticist, who pioneered the idea that breast cancer could be a heritable disease. She was awarded the 2018 Shaw Prize in Medicine.

Dr. Ramakrishnan was born in India, where he got his Bachelor’s degree in Physics from Baroda University. After working on components of the ribosome for 15 years, his lab pioneered insights into how the ribosome “reads” the genetic code, as well as into various aspects of antibiotic function.

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