The Nobel Prize in chemistry was awarded today to three scientists who mapped the structure of the ribosome, the part of the cell that reads DNA and uses its information to create proteins. All three chemists constructed three-dimensional models of the ribosome, using X-ray crystallography to chart hundreds of thousands of atoms. Modern antibiotics work by binding to the ribosomes of bacteria, making them unable to survive.
The $1.4 million prize was divided evenly between Venkatraman Ramakrishnan, an Indian-born American working at Cambridge; Thomas Steitz, an American at Yale; and Ada Yonath, an Israeli at the Weizmann Institute of Science. Yonath is only the fourth woman to win the chemistry Nobel, and the first female laureate since 1964.