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The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2009

"for studies of the structure and function of the ribosome"
Venkatraman Ramakrishnan Thomas A. Steitz Ada E. Yonath
Photo: MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology Credits: Michael Marsland/Yale University Credits: Micheline Pelletier/Corbis
Venkatraman Ramakrishnan Thomas A. Steitz Ada E. Yonath
third 1/3 of the prize third 1/3 of the prize third 1/3 of the prize
United Kingdom USA Israel
MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology
Cambridge, United Kingdom
Yale University
New Haven, CT, USA; Howard Hughes Medical Institute
Weizmann Institute of Science
Rehovot, Israel
b. 1952
(in Chidambaram, Tamil Nadu, India)
b. 1940 b. 1939

The ribosome is the cellular machinery that translates the message encoded by the genetic code into proteins. We understand the structure of ribosomes because the winners of this year's Nobel Prize used x-ray crystallography to image them. They then used three-dimensional models to describe how antibiotics bind to the ribosome. The models can be used to help develop new antibiotics, based on an understanding of the molecular conformation of the ribosomes in every cell.