Venki Ramakrishnan at Harvard University


Why We Die:
The New Science of Aging
and the Quest for Immortality 

in conversation with ANTONIO REGALADO

Please Note: Tickets to this event are sold out. We will have a stand-by line at Jefferson Lab 250. If any seats are still open five minutes before the event begins, we will turn them over to those in the stand-by line on a first-come, first-served basis.


May 8, 2024
7:00 PM ET
(Doors at 6:30)


Jefferson Lab 250
17 Oxford St, Cambridge MA 02138


SOLD OUT. View our Sold Out Event FAQ.

Harvard Book Store, the Harvard University Division of Science, and the Harvard Library welcome VENKI RAMAKRISHNAN—winner of the 2009 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, former president of the Royal Society, and author of Gene Machine—for a discussion of his new book Why We Die: The New Science of Aging and the Quest for Immortality. He will be joined in conversation by ANTONIO REGALADO—award-winning reporter for the MIT Technology Review. Following the presentation in Jefferson Lab 250, there will be a reception and book signing in the Physics Library in Jefferson 450. 


Please Note: Tickets to this event are sold out.  We will have a stand-by line at Jefferson Lab 250. If any seats are still open five minutes before the event begins, we will turn them over to those in the stand-by line on a first-come, first-served basis.

There are two ticket options available for this event.

Free General Admission Ticket: Includes admission for one.

Book-Included Ticket: Includes admission for one and one hardcover copy of Why We Die.

About Why We Die

The knowledge of death is so terrifying that we live most of our lives in denial of it. Throughout human history—from the immortal afterlife of Judeo-Christian thought to the cycle of reincarnation posited by many Eastern religions—we have developed beliefs that allow us to avoid recognizing its finality. One of the most difficult moments of childhood must be when each of us first realizes that not only we but all our loved ones will die—and there is nothing we can do about it.

Or at least, there hasn’t been. Today, we are living through a revolution in biology. Giant strides are being made in understanding why we age—and why some species live longer than others. Could we eventually cheat disease and death and live for a very long time, possibly many times our current lifespan?

Venki Ramakrishnan, recipient of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry and former president of the Royal Society, takes us on a riveting journey to the frontiers of biology, asking whether we must be mortal. Covering the recent breakthroughs in scientific research, he examines the cutting edge of efforts to extend lifespan by altering our genetic makeup. But might death serve a necessary biological purpose? What are the social and ethical costs of attempting to live forever?

Why We Die is a narrative of uncommon insight and beauty from one of our leading public intellectuals.

Praise for Venki Ramakrishnan

"If someone had told me that one of the most witty and enthralling books I'd read this year would be on the quest to understand ribosomes, I believe I would have laughed in his face, but I would have been quite wrong. Gene Machine is beyond superb." —Bill Bryson

“Ramakrishnan's writing is so honest, lucid and engaging that I could not put this book down until I had read to the very end." —Siddhartha Mukherjee (on Gene Machine)

“A wonderful book and a great corrective to the notion of science as dispassionate, untainted objectivity." —Ian McEwan (on Gene Machine)

Gene Machine will be read and re-read as an important document in the history of science." —Richard Dawkins

Masking Policy

Masks are encouraged but not required for this event.

Antonio Regalado
Antonio Regalado

Antonio Regalado

Antonio Regalado is a reporter at MIT Technology Review, where he covers genetic engineering, in vitro fertility, and longevity research. In 2018, he wrote the article which uncovered the CRISPR babies in China and is the winner of the Hastings Center Award for his coverage of artificial gametes. Before joining MIT Technology Review, he lived in São Paulo, Brazil, where he wrote about science, technology and politics in Latin America for Science, National Geographic and other publications. From 2000 to 2009, he was the science reporter at the Wall Street Journal and a foreign correspondent. Regalado holds a BS in physics from Yale University and a MA in journalism from New York University.

Venki Ramakrishnan
Venki Ramakrishnan

Venki Ramakrishnan

Venki Ramakrishnan shared the 2009 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for uncovering the structure of the ribosome. A member of the National Academy of Sciences, Venki runs his research group at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, England. From 2015 to 2020, he served as president of the Royal Society, one of the world's oldest scientific organizations. He is the author of the frank scientific memoir Gene Machine.

Photo Credit: Kate Joyce and the Santa Fe Institute


Jefferson Lab 250
17 Oxford St, Cambridge MA 02138

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