Perspectives

Royal Society President Explains Ribosomes & Charts His Career for Podcast


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Dr. Venki Ramakrishnan, a molecular biologist, is president of the Royal Society in Great Britain, the same organization formerly headed by Sir Isaac Newton and Ernest Rutherford.
He feels it is the duty and obligation of top scientists to explain, in understandable terms, their discoveries to the general population to extend understanding and knowledge.
Dr. Ramakrishnan, in this Spectrum Podcast, explains ribosomes. They exist in every living cell to synthesize proteins.
For his work in ribosomes, Dr. Ramakrishnan shared a Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2009. In this podcast, he uses approachable metaphors to explain the functioning of these highly complex cell components.
In recent years, Dr. Ramakrishnan has extended his work in ribosomes and has taken his discoveries to a higher level.
He notes that malfunctioning ribosomes can be instrumental in causing certain diseases. However, harnessing and directing the functioning of ribosomes can bring about cures for some diseases and human maladies.
For example, greater knowledge of ribosomes may lead to better antibiotics being developed against bacterial infections.
Dr. Ramakrishnan also traces his career from his native India to getting a doctorate in physics from Ohio University. He then went on to have a postdoctoral position in biology with Dr. Peter Moore’s lab at Yale and he worked at several other American labs before transferring his talents to the Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, England.
Just recently, Dr. Ramakrishnan has released a book he authored titled: “Gene Machine: The Race to Decipher the Secrets of the Ribosome.” In the book, he talks about his discoveries and his path to uncover this critical component of living cells.
In May, Dr. Ramakrishnan will receive an honorary doctorate from his alma mater Ohio University.