7 US, European scientists win Wolf Prize

February 2, 2010 00:57

Winners of Israel's prestigious award to receive $100,000 each in May ceremony.

2 minute read.

Prof. Alain Aspect.

Alain Aspect. (photo credit:courtesy)

Seven internationally renowned scientists from England, Germany, the US, France and Austria will come to the Knesset in May to receive the Wolf Prizes – considered Israel’s “Nobel Prizes” and worth $100,000 in each field – from President Shimon Peres and Education Minister and Wolf Foundation Council chairman Gideon Sa’ar.

Sa’ar announced the names of the winners in medicine, physics, mathematics, agriculture and architecture (this year, as one of the fields of the arts). Former recipients of the Wolf Prize include Prof. Ada Yonath of the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot who received the Nobel Prize for Chemistry two months ago.

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Since 1978 the Wolf Prize has been awarded 27 times, to a total of 253 scientists and artists from 23 countries (among them 18 Israelis) for “achievements in the interest of mankind and friendly relations among peoples, irrespective of nationality, race, color, religion, sex or political view.”

The Herzliya Pituah-based Wolf Foundation was established by the late German-born inventor, diplomat and philanthropist Dr. Ricardo Wolf, who served as Cuban ambassador to Israel.

“In its 32 years, the Wolf Prize has bestowed great honor upon the State of Israel and science, both in Israel and worldwide,” said Sa’ar. “The prize, held in great esteem by the scientific community, is a predictor of the Nobel Prize – one out of every three Wolf Prize recipients in medicine, physics and chemistry later went on to receive the Nobel Prize.”

The 2010 Wolf Prize in Medicine will be awarded to Prof. Axel Ullrich of the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry in Martinsried, Germany, for groundbreaking cancer research that has led to the development of innovative drugs, among them Receptin, for treatment of women with metastatic breast cancer. The international prize jury in this field stated that Ullrich “is one of a small number of basic scientists whose work has impacted not only basic research, but also aided millions of patients suffering from diverse chronic diseases.”

The 2010 Wolf Prize in Agriculture will be awarded to Sir David Baulcombe of Cambridge University for research in which he demonstrated how plants defend themselves against viral attack, through a mechanism known as “gene silencing.”

The jury said that Baulcombe, who was knighted by Queen Elizabeth last year, was responsible for a pioneering discovery of gene regulation by small inhibitory RNA molecules, and that it had important implications not only for agriculture but also for other fields of biology, including medicine.

The 2010 Wolf Prize in Mathematics will be awarded jointly to two Americans: Prof. Shing-Tung Yau of Harvard University for his work in geometric analysis that has had a profound and dramatic impact on many areas of geometry and physics; and to Prof. Dennis Sullivan of the State University of New York at Stony Brook for his innovative contributions to algebraic topology and conformal dynamics.

The 2010 Wolf Prize in Physics will be shared by Prof. John F. Clauser of the US; Prof. Alain Aspect of France’s École Normale Supérieure de Cachan; and Prof. Anton Zeilinger of the University of Vienna. The jury in this field praised them “for their fundamental conceptual and experimental contributions to the foundations of quantum physics, specifically an increasingly sophisticated series of tests of Bell’s inequalities, or extensions thereof, using entangled quantum states.”

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