Rothschild Prize goes to HU’s Cedar

Hebrew University medical faculty researcher steps out of director son's shadow.

March 20, 2012 23:55
1 minute read.
Professor Haim Cedar

Haim Cedar 370. (photo credit: Hebrew University website)

Although outstanding Hebrew University medical researcher Prof. Howard (Haim) Cedar has in recent years been known as “the father of” prizewinning movie director Joseph Cedar, he is a prizewinner in his own right, with the Israel Prize and many other awards under his belt. Now the Hebrew University medical faculty researcher will be one of five Israelis to receive the prestigious Rothschild Prize.

Lord Jacob Rothschild will award the prize ($50,000) at the Knesset on Sunday.

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The American-born Cedar, an Edmund Safra distinguished professor whose research on DNA methylation has fundamental implications for understanding the development of normal and diseased cells, is often mentioned as a potential Nobel Prize laureate.

The other four prize recipients are HU Prof. Raphael Mechoulam, Prof. Margalit Finkelberg of Tel Aviv University’s classics department, HU mathematics Prof. Gil Kalai and HU Prof. (emeritus) Moshe Idel.

Mechoulam, an expert in medicinal chemistry, has long been the country’s top expert in cannabis and its pain-relieving components.

He was the first researcher to identify the chemical structure of THC – the biologically active component of the marijuana plant. His work has implications for controlling pain associated with multiple sclerosis and chemotherapy.

Finkelberg will receive a prize for “changing the way scholars view the literary tradition in Ancient Greece, as well as the origins of the Greek people.”

Kalai is said to be “responsible for some of the most imaginative combinatorial and computer science results in the past 20 years, leading to discoveries in areas such as game theory and optimization.”

Idel, a senior fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute, “has transformed the study of Kabbalah, expanding on groundwork first laid by Prof. Gershom Scholem.”

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