Venkatraman Ramakrishnan, the renowned Indian-American scientist whose pathbreaking work in molecular biology won him the 2009 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, is to be knighted with two other foreign-born Nobel Laureates, Professors Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov of Russia.

Foreigners are rarely knighted and cannot officially use the title "Sir".

Professor Ramakrishnan, popularly known as "Venky", is based at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge while Profs. Geim and Novoselov, joint winners of the 2010 Nobel Prize in Physics, are at the University of Manchester.

An official announcement said that Prof. Ramakrishnan (58) had been conferred knighthood “for services to molecular biology” in the New Year Honours List 2012.

Prof. Ramakrishnan said the award was a recognition of the numerous contributions that immigrants made to British society.

"In the current debate about immigration, it is worth noting that this award is yet another example of the numerous contributions that immigrants make to British society," he said in a statement to the Press Trust of India.

“Indeed, many of the founding members of the Laboratory of Molecular Biology were immigrants themselves, and they helped to revolutionise modern biology.’’

Prof. Ramakrishnan said: “This is an honour that reflects the quality of science supported by the Medical Research Council, in particular at the Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge. In my case, credit should go to the numerous dedicated postdocs, students, associates and colleagues who made crucial contributions to the work.”

Born in 1952 in the temple town of Chidambaram in Tamil Nadu, Prof. Ramakrishnan got his B.Sc. in Physics from MS University in Baroda and later moved to America for advanced studies. He was awarded Padma Vibhushan in 2010.