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Venki Ramakrishnan

Venki Ramakrishnan, president of the Royal Society and a Nobel prize-winning biologist, is interviewed by Lauren Laverne.

Venki Ramakrishnan is a Nobel Prize-winning molecular biologist.

He is most renowned for his research into the atomic structure of the ribosome - a complex molecule in the cell which translates DNA into chains of amino acids that build proteins, the essence of life. This work eventually secured Venki a Nobel Prize in 2009, which he shared with Ada Yonath and Thomas Steitz.

Venki was born in Tamil Nadu, in the south of India. Both his parents were scientists, and both pursued postgraduate studies overseas when Venki was very young. He completed his schooling in India, and then moved to the United States. Life on an American campus in the early 1970s was, he recalls, a culture shock for a self-confessed nerdy young Indian. He completed a PhD in Physics in 1976, but then switched to biology which he felt was a more exciting discipline. His research into the ribosome began when he was working at Yale as a post-doctoral fellow in the late 1970s.

He moved to the UK in 1999, joining the Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge as a group leader. He was knighted in 2012, and has served as President of the Royal Society since 2015, where he has argued that science should enjoy a central place in the curriculum and in our wider culture.

Presenter: Lauren Laverne
Producer: Sarah Taylor

Available now

40 minutes

Last on

Fri 26 Oct 2018 09:00

Music Played

  • Johnny Cash

    Ring Of Fire

    • Best Of Johnny Cash.
    • Sony Music Entertainment UK Ltd.
    • 1.
  • Purandaradasa

    Sakala Graha

    Performer: Sikkil C. Gurucharan. Performer: Sumesh S Narayanan. Performer: M S Anantha Krishnan.
  • Amir Khusro

    Chhap Tilak Sab Chheeni

    Performer: Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan.
    • Supreme Collection Vol. 17.
    • EMI Pakistan.
    • 2.
  • Simon & Garfunkel


    • Bookends.
    • Sony Music Entertainment UK Ltd.
    • 3.
  • Johann Sebastian Bach

    Partita No. 2 d-moll BWV 1004 in D Minor - Ciaccona

    Performer: Nathan Milstein.
    • Violin Recital – Nathan Milstein.
    • Deutsche Grammophon.
    • 5.
  • Giacomo Puccini

    O Mio Babbino Caro

    Performer: Kiri Te Kanawa. Orchestra: London Philharmonic Orchestra. Conductor: Sir John Pritchard.
    • A Room With a View – Original Soundtrack Recording.
    • CBS/ DRG.
    • 1.

    • Ludwig van Beethoven

      Große Fuge op.133

      Performer: Takács Quartet.
      • Beethoven: String Quartets.
      • Decca.
      • 10.
  • Dvorak

    Dvorak's Trio in F Minor Op.65 (Poco Adagio)

    Performer: Jesse Mills. Performer: Raman Ramakrishnan. Performer: Rieko Aizawa. Ensemble: Horszowski Trio.

    The Feynman Lectures on Physics by Richard Feynman, Matthew Sands and Robert Leighton


    His wife's grand piano


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