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ESRF users are rewarded for their work on ribosomes


Two ESRF users have recently been rewarded for their work on the determination of the crystal structures of ribosomes.

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Professor Ada Yonath, of the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel, will be awarded the Wolf Prize in Chemistry for her work on the structure and function of the ribosome. The prize is shared with George Feher of the University of California at San Diego, who is awarded for his studies into photosynthesis. The award acknowledges the contribution of both to a “unified picture of basic biological mechanisms”. The Wolf Prize (sometimes considered as Israel’s Nobel Prize) is awarded annually to outstanding scientists and artists "for achievements in the interest of mankind and friendly relations among peoples."

Ramakrishnan yonath

Professor Venki Ramaksrishnan

Professor Ada Yonath

Professor Venki Ramaksrishnan has been awarded the 2007 Louis-Jeantet Prize in Medicine also for his work on determining the three dimensional structure of the ribosome. Ramaksrishnan is a researcher at the Medical Research Council’s Laboratory of Molecular Biology (UK). He shares the prize with the British biochemist Stephen C. West, awarded for his work on DNA repair mechanisms. The Louis-Jeantet Prize honours scientists carrying out the highest quality of biomedical research in Europe. The purpose of the Prize is to encourage further projects of excellence in the prize-winners’ laboratories.

The work of Ramakrishnan and Yonath has helped form the picture of how proteins are synthesised within cells. The resolution of the ribosome structure followed more than 20 years work on the problem, while their recent (but separate) work also comprises a more applied aspect with the rapid resolution of many ribosome-drug complexes that may help pave the way towards dealing with crucial and internationally important issues such as drug activity and antibiotic resistance mechanisms.