Sir Venki, who is deputy director of the Medical Research Council’s Laboratory for Molecular Biology in Cambridge, will take over from fellow Nobel laureate Sir Paul Nurse on 1 December.
He shared the Nobel Prize for chemistry in 2009 “for studies of the structure and function of the ribosome”: the molecular machinery in cells that turns genetic information into proteins.
Last year he spoke to Times Higher Education about winning the prize, recalling how he spent most of his prize money on buying a 19th-century Italian cello for his son, who is a professional musician.
Sir Venki studied physics at Baroda University in India and Ohio University in the US before studying biology as a graduate student at the University of California, San Diego.
He was a postdoctoral fellow at Yale University and a staff biophysicist at Brookhaven National Laboratory before becoming professor of biochemistry at the University of Utah. He moved to the Laboratory for Molecular Biology in 1999 specifically to pursue his study of the ribosome.