Gene machine

7.00pm to 8.30pm, Thursday 18 October

The Theatre

This event has already taken place

  • Multi-coloured representation of the Plasmodium falciparum 80S ribosome bound to emetine (in cyan spheres)

    Credit: eLife - the journal

Price

Standard £16

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Concession £10

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Ri Members and Ri Patrons £7

Event description

Everyone knows about DNA. It is the essence of our being, determining who we are and what we pass on to our children. The ribosome, on the other hand, doesn't enjoy such wide understanding. Yet without it, nothing lives. It is the mother of all molecules. For if DNA is data then it can't go anywhere, or do anything, without a machine to process it. The ribosome is that machine.

Nobel Prize winner Venki Ramakrishnan will tell the story of the race to uncover the structure of the ribosome, a fundamental discovery that resolves an ancient mystery of life itself and could lead to the development of better antibiotics to fight the most deadly diseases. He will chart his unlikely journey from his first fumbling experiments in a biology lab to being at the centre of a fierce competition at the cutting edge of modern science.

About the speaker

Venkatraman ‘Venki’ Ramakrishnan is a Nobel Prize-winning biologist whose many scientific contributions include his work on the atomic structure of the ribosome. As the site within living cells where the genetic information is read to synthesise proteins from amino acids, improved understanding of the ribosome has yielded many fundamental biological insights.

He determined the atomic structure of the 30S ribosomal subunit followed by structures of the entire ribosome in many different states and in complexes with several antibiotics. More recently, he has been using electron microscopy to visualise ribosomes in action in higher organisms. This work has advanced our understanding of how the ribosome works and how antibiotics inhibit it. In the past, he has also worked on histone and chromatin structure, which help us to understand how DNA is organised in cells.

Venki received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his work on ribosomal structure and was knighted in 2012. He is a Member of the US National Academy of Sciences, Leopoldina and EMBO, and a Foreign Member of the Indian National Science Academy. In 2015, he was elected as President of the Royal Society of London for a five-year term.

Timing

The doors will open at approximately 6.30pm, with a prompt start at 7.00pm. There will be time for questions after the talk.

Latecomers will be admitted into the gallery.

Book signing

Copies of Venki's book, 'Gene Machine', will be available for purchase and signing after the talk.

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