Kurt Wuthrich was delivering the first of IIT-Madras’s ‘Nobel Laureate Lecture Series’

“Liberal laws governing immigration rules are necessary for the quality of research to improve,” said Nobel laureate, Kurt Wuthrich, at IIT-Madras on Friday.

Referring to his university in Zurich where only 20 per cent of the faculty members are Swiss and the rest are a mixture of nationalities including Indian and German, Dr. Wuthrich noted that this was essential for research and development to flourish.

Quality of research

He also said there was a clear connection between the quality of research being done in a country and the number of Nobel prizes won by its citizens, citing a ratio of 3.6 Nobel laureates for every million citizens in Switzerland.

Dr. Wuthrich was speaking at a news conference at IIT-M, and he later delivered the inaugural lecture in the ‘Nobel Laureate Lecture Series’ that was initiated by IIT-M and is being sponsored by Larsen and Toubro Construction.

Entitled ‘My life as a scientist: from structural biology to structural genomics,’ the lecture traced hallmarks in Dr. Wuthrich’s career, which laid open fields of research. “In science, you never know if you are right. It took me many years to be sure. And you have to wait for years before your efforts are acknowledged… it is not possible to have results every three weeks or six months,” he said.

Sport was a frequent motif in his talk, as Dr. Wuthrich has a keen interest in football and fishing.

Chemistry prize

Dr. Wuthrich won the Nobel Prize for chemistry in 2002, for his work in using NMR spectroscopy to determine the three-dimensional structure of biological macromolecules in solution. He was a pioneer in this field.

He also visited the chemistry and biotechnology departments at IIT-M and gave talks at Kendriya Vidyalaya.