Three scientists share 2009 Nobel Prize in chemistry

16:59, October 12, 2009      

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The Royal Swedish Academy of Science announces that American scientists Venkatraman Ramakrishnan (L) and Thomas A. Steitz (C), and Ada E. Yonath of Israel won the 2009 Nobel Prize in chemistry "for studies of the structure and function of the ribosome." This is a combo photo of three winners.(Xinhua/Wu Ping)

Three researchers won the 2009 Nobel Prize in chemistry "for studies of the structure and function of the ribosome," the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences announced Wednesday.

Venkatraman Ramakrishnan, a group leader at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, England; Thomas A. Steitz, a researcher at Yale University, and Ada E. Yonath, a professor at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel, won for their work that has shown what the ribosome looks like and how it functions at the atomic level, the Nobel Committee said.

Scientist Venkatraman Ramakrishnan, along with Israeli scientist Ada Yonath and American scientist Thomas A. Steitz, shares the 2009 Nobel Prize in chemistry on Wednesday.(Xinhua/AFP Photo)

"This knowledge can be put into a practical and immediate use. Many of today's antibiotics cure various diseases by blocking the function of bacterial ribosomes. Without functional ribosomes, bacteria cannot survive," the Nobel Committee said.

The main research breakthrough came in 2000 and each of the three scientists 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, the Nobel Committee said.

Ramakrishnan, 56, was born in India and holds American citizenship.

Steitz earned his Ph.D. in Harvard University in 1966 and is the Sterling Professor of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator at Yale.

American scientist Thomas A. Steitz, along with British scientist Venkatraman Ramakrishnan and Ada E. Yonath of Israel shares the 2009 Nobel Prize in chemistry on Wednesday. (Xinhua/AFP Photo)

Yonath, who was born in 1939 in Jerusalem, earned her Ph.D. in X-ray crystallography in 1968 from the Weizmann Institute and became a professor at the same institute.

Yonath said during a telephone interview at the press conference, that she feels "very happy and very thankful" for winning the prize.

The professor said she thought that the research that won the Nobel was very important to life science but there is still lots to learn.

This was the third round of this year's Nobel prizes, which areawarded annually for achievements in science, literature, economics and peace.

Israeli scientist Ada Yonath, along with British scientist Venkatraman Ramakrishnan and American scientist Thomas A. Steitz, shares the 2009 Nobel Prize in chemistry on Wednesday.(Xinhua/Reuters Photo)

All but one of the prizes were established in the will of 19th Century dynamite millionaire Alfred Nobel. The economics award was established by Sweden's central bank in 1968.

The Nobel Prize in Physics on Tuesday went to Charles K. Kao, Willard S. Boyle and George E. Smith, all from the United States.

Each prize consists of a medal, a personal diploma and a cash award of 10 million Swedish kronor (1.4 million U.S. dollars).

Source: Xinhua
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