Dr. Thomas Steitz: The Right Chemistry


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Brilliance begets brilliance, and from early in his career, Thomas Steitz, Ph.D., has learned from and kept company with some of the most highly lauded scientific minds of the 20th and 21st centuries. Over the years, breakthrough discoveries regarding the ribosome have led to Dr. Steitz being often cited and honored by his peers as well as many respected organizations. This year, he joined an elite group of the world’s most acclaimed thinkers with the 2009 Nobel Prize for chemistry.
But fame has certainly not gone to Dr. Steitz’s head. In fact, if anything, the brilliant chemist — who won the Nobel Prize along with Venkatraman Ramakrishnan, Ph.D., and Ada Yonath, Ph.D., for their work describing the structure and function of the ribosome, the protein-making factory key to the function of all life — is somewhat incredulous at the attention the honor has garnered.
“It’s very exciting, of course,” he says. “It’s had a greater impact on people than I…

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Thomas A. Steitz, Ph.D., Sterling Professor of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry and Professor of Chemistry at Yale University, is one of three winners of the 2009 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his work describing the structure and function of the ribosome, the protein making factory key to the function of all life.