02 July 2010
Nobel Prize laureate lectures in CopenhagenBy Jes Andersen
When Israely children dress up for carnival, they want to go as either their compatriot Nobel Laureate Ada Yonath or the ribosomes she revealed the structure of. She tells this with at throaty laugh on her way to lecture for a collection of Danish chemists in Copenhagen.
Revealing the chemistry of life made her a role model
Ribosomes are the chemical factories seated in each of our cells where they produce all the proteins that make our bodies work.
So the children are disguising themselves as either chemists or chemical factories. And to chemist Ada Yonath, one of the greatest joys of receiving the Nobel Prize has been to suddenly function as a role model. She is especially pleased that her example seems to have driven more girls to want to study science.
Irradiated protein crystals
Yonath however was not awarded the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 2009 because she would make a good rolemodel. During her lecture at the Department of Chemistry she gave an account of how ribosomes work on the atomic level. An insight she has secured by bombarding crystalised ribosomes with x-rays.
Important insights into secrets of life
The detailed understanding of the ribosomes mode of operation supplied by Ada Yonath has changed the very understanding of how life works. But her research has applied uses beside the fundamental understandings. The X-ray crystallographies of Yonath has already impacted the way pharmaceuticals design new drugs.
Ada Yonath visited the Department of Chemistry by invitation of Professor Sine Larsen. Together these two have spent many a late night at syncrotron radiation facilities throughout the world