Weizmann professor to receive Israel Prize for groundbreaking cancer research

The Israel Prize is largely regarded as the state’s highest honor.

March 2, 2017 17:29
2 minute read.
Weizmann Institute of Science

Weizmann Institute of Science. (photo credit: MICHAEL JACOBSON/WIKIMEDIA COMMONS)


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Prof. Yosef Yarden from the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot will be awarded the Israel Prize in Life Science Research, the Education Ministry announced this week.

“Prof. Yosef Yarden is among the most important cancer researchers in the world,” the prize committee, which is headed by Prof. Yosef Shiloh, wrote of its decision.

“In a long and continuous line of groundbreaking discoveries, Prof. Yarden’s work led to the identification of receptors for growth factors responsible for regulating major life processes in cells, understanding how they work, and the discovery of the disruptions that happen within them that contribute to the development of the cancer process.”

Yarden discovered the function of an enzyme that strengthens the chemical signals that cause cells to become cancerous – found especially in breast, ovarian and lung tumors. His finding laid the foundation for the development of new cancer treatments.

Yarden was born in Tiberias in 1952. He received his Bachelor of Science in biological and geological sciences from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in 1980 and a PhD in molecular biology from the Weizmann Institute of Science in 1985.

After completing his postdoctoral training abroad Yarden returned to Israel to join the Weizmann Institute in 1988.

He has since been the recipient of numerous prestigious national and international awards, including the EMET Prize and the MERIT Award of the US National Cancer Institute.

Culture and Sport Minister Miri Regev issued a statement congratulating the professor – the first award recipient this year of Mizrahi descent – saying she believes the Israel Prize must “give expression to the diversity of voices in Israeli society.

“I congratulate Prof. Yosef Yarden, who reached great heights and brought good tidings to all humanity with his research. This is an excellent choice,” she said. “Today all of Israel has won. This is a personal prize for one man, but it has a national message – social justice, cultural justice. A strong Israel is an Israel that provides room for everyone,” she added.

Last month Regev criticized the Education Ministry for having awarded five Israel Prizes this year to scholars of Ashkenazi descent.

The Israel Prize is largely regarded as the state’s highest honor. It is presented annually on Independence Day at a ceremony in Jerusalem in the presence of the prime minister, president, Knesset speaker and Supreme Court president.

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