The 2009 Nobel Prizes were announced in the month of October 2009 by the Swedish Academy (For Medicine, Chemistry, Physics, Literature and Economics) and the Norwegian Nobel Committee (For Peace). The Nobel Prize is the highest award of the world.

United States President Barack Obama won the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize. The committee which decides the award attached special importance to Obama’s vision and work for a world without nuclear weapons.

An Indian-born scientist won Nobel Prize in Chemistry along with two others on October 7, 2009 and by the next day every nook and cranny across the country reverberated with his name Dr. Venkatraman Ramakrishnan.

Though he is an American citizen now, India prides itself upon the fact that it was the country where he was born and got educated up to the Graduation level.


His achievement was recognized almost instantaneously by the President Pratibha Patil, who congratulated him on making the country proud. Dr. Ramakrishnan was born to scientist parents C.V. Ramakrishnan and Rajalakshmi in Chidambaram, Tamil Nadu in 1952. He completed his pre-university studies at Annamalai University.

Later, he received a B.Sc. in Physics from Maharaja Sayajirao University at Baroda in 1971. Thereafter, he migrated to the US to continue his studies where he later, settled and attained US citizenship as well.

Dr. Ramakrishnan earned his Ph.D. in Physics from Ohio University US and later on, worked at the University of California from 1976 to 1978. During his stint there, he conducted a research with Dr. Mauricio Montel, a membrane biochemist and subsequently, designed his own 2-year transition from Physics and Biology.

As a postdoctoral fellow at Yale University, USA, Dr. Ramakrishnan worked on a neutron-scattering map of the small ribosomal subunit of E. coli. He has been studying ribosome structure ever since. Dr. Ramakrishnan has published more than 95 research papers so far, earliest being one of 1977.


In 2000, his laboratory determined the structure of 305 subunits of the ribosome and its complexes with several antibiotics. At present Dr. Ramakrishnan is a senior scientist at the Medical Research Council (MRC) Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, England.

Dr. Ramakrishnan and two other scientists have won the 2009 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. American scientists Dr. Ramakrishnan, Thomas A. Steitz and an Israeli Ada E. Yonath shared the Chemistry Prize for showing how the ribosome, which produces proteins, functions at the atomic level.

These scientists produced atom-by-atom maps of the mysterious life giving ribosome-a breakthrough that has been vital for developing new antibiotics. All the three scientists have used a method called X-ray crystallography to map the position for each of the hundreds of thousands of atoms that make up the ribosome.