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APS user shares the “Israeli Nobel” for chemistry

JANUARY 11, 2007

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Prof. Ada Yonath, of the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel.

An Israeli structural biologist and an American physicist will share the $100,000 Wolf Prize in Chemistry for their discoveries leading to a unified picture of basic biological mechanisms.

Prof. Ada Yonath, of the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel, and Prof. George Feher, of the University of California, San Diego, will receive the chemistry prize in the Israeli Knesset on May 13, 2007. The prizes are bestowed by the Wolf Foundation Council, which chooses what are considered to be Israel's equivalent to the Nobel Prize. Prof. Yonath is a frequent user of the Structural Biology Center beamlines at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Photon Source (APS) at Argonne, as well as beamlines at other light sources. She is coauthor on 38 papers (to date) based on research carried out at the APS.

Yonath was awarded the prize for her work in understanding the production of proteins. "Her work paves the way to dealing with the crucial issue of drug activity and resistance mechanisms," the committee said.

A member of the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities and the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, Yonath "was the first to discover the unified ribosomal mechanism leading to the production of proteins. She is the first and only person to determine, in an incredibly short period of time, the structures of over a dozen different complexes of antibiotics, to reveal the ribosome-antibiotics binding sites on the molecular level and to provide insight into antibiotics selectivity. Her work paves the way to dealing with the crucial issue of drug activity and resistance mechanisms, thus touching on a central problem in medicine," the international jury stated.

A Hebrew University graduate, Yonath received her Ph.D. from the Weizmann Institute in 1968 and has been associated with it since 1974. She is the Martin S. and Helen Kimmel Professor of Structural Biology; Director, The Helen & Milton A. Kimmelman Center for Biomolecular Structure & Assembly; and was Director of The Joseph & Ceil Mazer Center for Structural Biology, all at the Weizmann Institute of Science, in addition to leading the Ribosome Group in the Weizmann Structural Biology Department. Between 1986 and 2004 she was the director of a Max Planck Research Unit in Hamburg, Germany, in parallel to her activities in Israel. She previously received the Israel Prize for Chemistry, as well as other Israeli and foreign prizes.

Read the original Jerusalem Post online article here.

The Advanced Photon Source is supported by the U. S. Department of Energy, Office of Science, Office of Basic Energy Sciences, under Contract No. DE-AC02-06CH11357.

Argonne is a U.S. Department of Energy laboratory managed by UChicago Argonne, LLC