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