TAU geneticist to receive Israel Prize for life sciences

Professor Yosef Shilo, a pathfinding researcher in the field of human genetics, discovered a gene that protects inherited material.

yosef shilo 311 (photo credit: courtesy)
yosef shilo 311
(photo credit: courtesy)
The Israel Prize for 2011 in life sciences research will be awarded on Independence Day to Prof. Yosef Shilo, the Education Ministry announced on Thursday.
Minister Gideon Sa’ar called the winner to inform him and wish him well.
Shilo has been a pathfinding researcher in the field of human genetics and discovered a gene that protects inherited material, the judges’ jury said. This led to the understanding for the first time of inherited cellular material and adds important information on cancer and biology, making possible the use of new approaches to detecting genetic defects in humans.
The jury in the field of life sciences was chaired by Prof. Meir Wilchek and included Prof. Varda Shoshan-Barmatz, Prof. Shlomo Gross and Prof. Chaim (Howard) Cedar.
Shilo, born in 1949, studied at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa and completed his bachelor’s degree with honors. He went to the Hebrew University of Jerusalem to study human genetics for his master’s degree and then completed his doctorate. He went for postgraduate work at the University of Chicago and in the Netherlands, and then continued his work in human genetics at Harvard University.
In 1985, Shilo was accepted to the faculty at Tel Aviv University Sackler Medical School’s human genetics department and also conducted research at the University of Michigan in the lab of Prof. Francis Collins, who investigated the human genome. Under Collins, Shilo did vital work in positional cloning and the identification of the gene mutation responsible for the incurable disease ataxia telangiectasia. Four years after joining the TAU faculty, he became a full professor while charactering the defective protein ATM responsible for the gene.
Before winning the Israel Prize, Shilo received no fewer than 37 awards for his work, including the E.M.E.T. Prize for cancer research; he is also a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the Humanities.
Shilo has established a new generation of researchers, including 40 who did their master’s degrees under him and 30 who did their doctorates, along with 16 who completed their post-doctoral work.