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Nobel Laureate Dr Venki Ramakrishnan receives Order of Merit

Nobel Laureate Dr Venki Ramakrishnan has been appointed to the Order of Merit by King Charles III in recognition of his distinguished service to science.

Dr Ramakrishnan, who shared the 2009 Nobel Prize for Chemistry, is among six people chosen by the late Queen before her death, and the first appointments to the Order made by King Charles since he became sovereign.

Master of Trinity, Dame Sally Davies, said:

Few honours are higher in the United Kingdom than the Order of Merit – and this year’s recipients are the first to be appointed by King Charles.

Venki Ramakrishnan is one of Trinity’s most esteemed and yet modest Fellows. A Nobel Laureate, former Royal Society President, not to mention numerous other accolades. The Order of Merit is a fitting honour and I congratulate Venki.

A Group Leader at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, Dr Ramakrishnan became a Fellow of Trinity in 2008, was knighted in 2012, and was elected President of the Royal Society in 2015.

During his Presidency, 2015-2020, the Royal Society campaigned for the continued involvement of UK scientists in European and international research initiatives and for access to funding after Brexit.

Dr Ramakrishnan also forged the Royal Society’s response to the COVID pandemic, harnessing the expertise of UK scientists, including economists and behavioural scientists, to analyze data and advise the government on its public health strategy.

Dr Ramakrishnan was President of the Royal Society, 2015-2020

In 2009 he shared the Nobel Prize for Chemistry with Thomas A Steitz and Ada Yonath for their discovery of the structure and function of the ribosome – a journey he describes in his well-received popular science book, Gene Machine (Oneworld, 2019.) He is currently writing a popular book on why we age and die.

Dr Ramakrishnan was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 2003. He is a member of the European Molecular Biology Organization, the US National Academy of Sciences, the German Academy of Sciences Leopoldina and the American Philosophical Society. He is an Honorary Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences, and of Somerville College, Oxford.

He has received honorary degrees from the Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda, University of Utah, Ohio University, and the University of Cambridge, institutions that Dr Ramakrishnan has either studied or worked at.

Founded in 1902 by King Edward VII, the Order of Merit is conferred on individuals of exceptional distinction in the armed forces, science, arts, and literature, or for the promotion of culture, based on the choice of the monarch.

There are only 24 members of the Order at any one time. The other appointments in 2022 are the architect Sir David Adjaye, nursing specialist Professor Dame Elizabeth Anionwu, broadcaster Baroness Floella Benjamin, historian Professor Margaret MacMillan, and geneticist and biologist Sir Paul Nurse.

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