London: Venkatraman Ramakrishnan, the Indian-American scientist whose pioneering work in molecular biology won him the 2009 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, has been honoured with a Knighthood by the royal establishment in London in a rare recognition of achievements by foreigners based in Britain.
58-year-old Ramakrishnan, known to most as Venky, is based at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge.
He has been conferred Knighthood "for services to molecular biology" in the New Year Honours List 2012, according to an official announcement.
After the list was released early today, Mr. Ramakrishnan said that honouring him with a Knighthood reflects the contribution made by immigrants to British society.
In a statement to PTI, he said: "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."
"Indeed, many of the founding members of the Laboratory of Molecular Biology were immigrants themselves, and they helped to revolutionise modern biology."
Mr. 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."
It is rare for foreign citizens to be honoured with Knighthoods.
Besides Mr. Ramakrishnan, two other foreign-born Nobel Prize winners based in the U.K. have been conferred Knighthood in the 2012 honours list.
They are Russia-born Professors Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov based at the University of Manchester, who were involved in the creation of Graphene, a sheet of carbon just one atom thick. They won the Nobel Prize for Physics in 2010.
Unlike foreign citizens who were conferred Knighthood in the past such as Chancellor Helmut Kohl of Germany, President Francois Mitterrand of France and Mayor Rudy Giuliani of New York, Mr. Ramakrishnan, Mr. Geim and Mr. Novoselov are based in the United Kingdom.