Harvard Science Book Talk: Venki Ramakrishnan


Wednesday, May 8, 2019, 6:00pm to 8:00pm


Science Center Lecture Hall C

venki ramakrishnanVenki Ramakrishnan
Senior Scientist, the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology (UK)
President of the Royal Society (UK)
2008 Nobel Prize in Chemistry

Title: "The Quest for the Structure of the Biological Machine that Reads Our Genes"

Everyone has heard of DNA. But by itself, DNA is just an inert blueprint for life. It is the ribosome— an ancient and enormous molecular machine made up of half a million atoms —that makes DNA come to life by turning our genetic code into proteins and therefore into us. In this talk, Dr. Venkatraman ‘Venki’ Ramakrishnan, a Nobel Prize-winning biologist, whose many scientific contributions include his work on the atomic structure of the ribosome, will discuss his new book, Gene Machine. The book is a frank insider account of the race for the structure of the ribosome, a fundamental discovery in molecular biology, but one that could also lead to the development of better antibiotics against bacterial infections. But the book is also about the human messiness of science: the twists and turns of Dr. Ramakrishnan's career, initially being an outsider who gave up on physics to become a biologist, and then the dark horse in a fierce competition with some of the world’s most accomplished scientists. Gene Machine is also a frank and gossipy account of how science is done, with its mixture of insights and persistence as well as blunders and dead ends. It also talks about how scientists behave when the stakes are high, with a mixture of competition and collaboration, their egos, insecurities and jealousies, but also their kindness and generosity.


Cabot Science Library