The 2014 winners of the prestigious Wolf Prize were announced by Education Minister and chairman of the Wolf Foundation Shai Piron at an event at the Land of Israel Museum in Tel Aviv.
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The internationally renowned Wolf prize is awarded annually to a number of laureates in the sciences, as well as in the arts, and is considered second in importance to the Nobel Prize.
This year, the five $100,000 prizes will be awarded to eight winners from four countries – the United States, Canada, Sweden, and Taiwan – for their exceptional work in the fields of medicine, agriculture, chemistry, mathematics, and painting and sculpture, it was announced on Thursday.
The prize in medicine will be awarded this year, to Israeli Prof. Nahum Sonenberg of McGill University in Montreal for his discovery of the proteins that control the protein expression mechanism and their operation, and to professors Gary Ruvkun of Mass General Hospital Department of Molecular Biology and Harvard Medical School and Victor Ambros of the University of Massachusetts Medical School in the United States for the discovery of the micro- RNA molecules that play a key role in controlling gene expression in natural processes and disease development.
In agriculture, the prize will be awarded to professors Jorje Dubcovsky, of the University of California, Davis, and Lief Andersson, of Uppsala University in Sweden, for their contribution to the study of plants and animals, through the use of cutting-edge genomic technologies.
In chemistry, the prize will be awarded to Prof. Chi-Huey Wong of Aacademica Sinica in Taiwan, for his numerous and original contributions to the development of innovative methods for the programmable and applied synthesis of complex oligosaccharides and glycol-proteins.
The prize in mathematics will be awarded to Prof. Peter Sarnak of the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, United States, for his deep contributions in analysis, number theory, geometrics, and combinatory.
In the arts, the prize will be awarded to Olafur Eliasson, a Danish artist of Icelandic heritage, for his integration of arts and science, which evokes personal and universal moments of epiphany.
The prizes will be awarded to the winners at a state ceremony at the Knesset, and attended by President Shimon Peres, in May.
The Wolf Foundation began its activities in 1976, with an initial endowment fund of $10 million, donated by the Wolf family, with the aim of awarding prizes to outstanding scientists and artists for achievements in the “interest of mankind and friendly relations among peoples” and to award scholarships and grants to students and scientists engaged in research at Israeli higher education institutions.
The state comptroller oversees all the foundation’s activities and the education minister acts as chairman of the council.