Indian-origin Nobel laureate Professor Venki Ramakrishnan has been awarded the prestigious Order of Merit by Britain’s King Charles III for his distinguished contribution to science.
The Order of Merit is an exclusive mark of honor conferred by the British sovereign.
The 70-year-old hails from the temple town of Chidambaram in Tamil Nadu and has worked as a biologist for more than 30 years. Most of his research work has been focused on central problems in molecular biology.
He is among six appointments made to the historic order by the late Queen Elizabeth II before her death in September and the first to be appointed by Charles.
“His Majesty The King has been pleased to make six new appointments to the Order of Merit. Appointments to the Order are made in recognition of distinguished service to the armed forces, science, art, literature, or for the promotion of culture,” Buckingham Palace said on Friday evening.
“The individuals were chosen by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth in early September,” it said.
Venki Ramakrishnan completed his studies in biology in the US before moving to the UK where he is the Group Leader of the leading research hub MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology at Cambridge University.
In 2009, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his work on ribosomal structure and was knighted by the Queen in 2012. He was President of the UK’s Royal Society from November 2015 until November 2020.
“Ironically, the first (Royal Society) Fellows to come into contact with India were colonizers like Robert Clive and Warren Hastings, or colonial administrators like Thomas Macaulay and Richard Temple. They certainly did not regard Indians as their equals in any way, and would frankly have been astonished that one day, someone born in India would go on to become a fellow, let alone a President of the Society,” noted Professor Venki in his farewell address to the Royal Society two years ago.
In the past, he has also worked on histone and chromatin structure, which helps understand how DNA is organized in cells.