Ramanarayanan Krishnamurthy, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Chemistry, Scripps Research Institute

SCOL Project: An Alternate Pathway to RNA Building Blocks: From the Nucleobase Perspective

The process by which biomolecules, such as RNA and proteins, emerged on early earth continues to be an enigma and defining a complete pathway for the prebiotic synthesis of the building blocks of biology from simple starting materials remains a challenge. Research in our group is focused on the use of synthetic organic chemistry to experimentally address questions with respect to the formation of molecules that have the potential to lead to the emergence of functional entities. We consider a wide array of possible chemical processes and pathways under prebiotic constraints, that would have been possible on early earth to generate molecular building blocks, from which we identify alternative molecular structures that have the potential to undergo chemical reactions and transformations to form structures of interest in the context of origins of life research. We synthesize these molecules and study their properties. Based on the results, we investigate further the potential of selected molecular structures to transform themselves, or mediate the transformation of other molecules, to the biomolecules that exist in life today.

Ramanarayanan Krishnamurthy received his B.Sc. in chemistry from Vivekananda College (University of Madras) and M.Sc. in Chemistry from the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay. He obtained his Ph.D. from The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, under the guidance of Professor David Hart, followed by postdoctoral work at Swiss Federal Institute (ETH), Zürich, with Professor Eschenmoser and as a NASA-NSCORT fellow with Professor Gustaf Arrhenius at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UCSD, La Jolla, California. He then rejoined Professor Eschenmoser at the Skaggs Institute for Chemical Biology at The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, California. He is currently an Associate Professor of Chemistry at The Scripps Research Institute and a scientific collaborator with the Center for Chemical Evolution at Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta.

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