2009 Nobel Prize in Chemistry

"for studies of the structure and function of the ribosome"

Venkatraman Ramakrishnan

-born 1952 in Chidambaram, Tamil Nadu, India

-education: Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda

-place of Work: Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge, UK

-field of study: molecular biology

-interesting fact: his place of birth is home to a Hindu deity

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Thomas A. Steitz

-born Aug 23, 1940 in Milkwaukee, Wisconsin

-education: Lawrence University and Harvard University

-place of work: Yale University in the Howard Hughes Medical Institute

-field of study: biochemistry and structural chemistry

-interesting fact: he was a member of the Delta Tau Delta fraternity

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Ana E. Yonath

-born June 22, 1939 in Jerusalem, Israel

-education: Hebrew Univeristy of Jerusalem

-place of work: Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel

-field of study: biochemistry, structural chemistry

-interesting fact: she was the first woman in 45 years to win the Nobel Prize for Chemistry

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Their Scientific Method

Experiments: Using X-Ray Crystallography, researchers can accurately determine the position and composition of hundreds of thousands of atoms in the ribosome. Using this information, Thomas Steitz published the first crystal structure of the ribosome’s larger subunit.

Lab work: X-Ray Crystallography-diffraction patterns formed by X-rays passing through a crystal of a substance are used to piece together that crystal’s atomic structure.

Results: With a better understanding of the interactions between bacterial ribosomes and antibiotics, new drugs can help to stop the bacterial ribosome from multiplying the bacteria.


-Problem it Solved: The research provided a much deeper understanding of what happens in the ribosome. All three researchers have made structures that map out the atoms in the ribosome and show exactly where antibiotics attack bacterial ribosomes.

-It didn't challenge any former knowledge. The research just expanded on information that is already known

-How it's Used Today: The bacterial ribosome has major importance in 50% of known antibiotics. The exact knowledge of where antibiotics bind to ribosomes helps scientists develop new drugs and antibiotics that are much more efficient.

-Future Impact: The knowledge to make these new drugs could help save people's lives in the future by making current drugs more effective and providing new medications for sicknesses that don't currently have a cure.

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