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Weizmann Institute of Science Professor Ada Yonath Wins Wolf Prize in Chemistry

News Release • TAGS: Awards, Chemistry, Medicine, Women

NEW YORK, NY—January 9, 2007—Prof. Ada Yonath of the Weizmann Institute of Science’s Department of Structural Biology was named as one of the winners of the prestigious Wolf Prize in Chemistry.

Prof. Yonath will receive the 2006-2007 chemistry prize in May, along with Prof. George Feher, a physicist at the University of California, San Diego.  The two scientists will share the $100,000 prize granted by the Wolf Foundation in Israel.

Prof. Yonath is the first scientist to determine the structure of the ribosome, the large protein-synthesis machinery of living cells.

In its official announcement, the Wolf Foundation said, “The recent emergence of ribosome structures in the crystallographic community is mainly due to Ada Yonath, who uniquely and single-handedly pioneered ribosomal crystallography over more than two decades ago, when others could not even conceive its possibility. By pushing crystallography to its limits, she demonstrated the feasibility of ribosomal crystallography, thus inspiring prominent groups to repeat her experiments. Throughout, she has been the leading force in all stages of structure determination and has introduced fundamental methodological innovations that have greatly impacted the entire field of structural biology.”

Prof. Yonath received her Ph.D. from the Weizmann Institute in 1968.  After a postdoctoral fellowship at MIT, Prof. Yonath returned to the Weizmann Institute and began her investigation into the structure of the ribosome.  “Her work paves the way to deal with the crucial issue of drug activity and resistance mechanisms, thus touching on a central problem in medicine,” the foundation said.

Prof. Yonath is The Martin S. and Helen Kimmel Professor of Structural Biology and Director of The Helen and Milton A. Kimmelman Center for Biomolecular Structure and Assembly at the Weizmann Institute.

The Wolf Prize has been awarded annually since 1978 “to promote science and art for the benefit of mankind.”

The Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel, is one of the world's top-ranking multidisciplinary research institutions. Noted for its wide-ranging exploration of the natural and exact sciences, the Institute is home to 2,500 scientists, students, technicians, and supporting staff. Institute research efforts include the search for new ways of fighting disease and hunger, examining leading questions in mathematics and computer science, probing the physics of matter and the universe, creating novel materials, and developing new strategies for protecting the environment.