India-born Nobel Prize winning scientist Venki Ramakrishnan has said that he has seen no evidence of a negative impact on Britain’s scientific community as a result of the UK’s vote to leave the European Union (EU).
The president of the Royal Society, the UK national academy of science, said that Britain, as “one of the most tolerant places in the world”, will continue to attract foreign academics to its shores despite Brexit.
“The reality is the UK is an incredibly strong science country, and its membership in the EU is only one of many considerations that people take into account when they come here,” Venki said yesterday.
“If you look at my lab, there are people from all over the world, and that’s not going to change as a result of the referendum. If we want to do good science then we have to be globally competitive and get the best people from wherever they are,” he said.
British researchers and scientists receive approximately 1 billion pounds a year from EU funding schemes and a number of academics had issued pleas in favour of remaining within the economic bloc in the lead up to the June 23 referendum.
“The message I’m hearing back is that the government is very committed to making sure that the UK science spending is protected. What I take that to mean is that if we were to lose EU funding they would eventually restore it,” Venki, who is in his early 60s, said.
The Tamil Nadu born and Cambridge-based biologist took charge as the Royal Society of Britain’s first Indian-origin president in December 2015. He was knighted by Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II in 2012. The research for which Prof Venki shared the 2009 Nobel was commenced in the US, where he has spent much of his working life before moving to Cambridge in 1999.
He shared the prize with Thomas Steitz, of Yale University and Ada Yonath, of the Weizmann Institute of Science, Jerusalem.