In this charmingly narrated autobiographical essay written for the Nobel Foundation, 2009 Chemistry Laureate Venkatraman Ramakrishnan recalls his Indian roots, the shaping role of his exceptional parents and teachers, the twists and turns of his scientific career, how he staked all on "one risky project" when, in 1999, he took a hefty salary cut and moved to the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge, U.K. Reasoning that "the structure of the ribosome was the most important goal in my field," he decided to focus entirely on the 30S subunit. The rest, including the Nobel and the Padma Vibhushan, is history.

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