Wolf Foundation announces new laureates

Contributions to the control of gene expression and cancer research, advancements in chemical ecology earn professors $100,000 prize.

cedar and razin 224.88 (photo credit: Courtesy - The Wolf Foundation)
cedar and razin 224.88
(photo credit: Courtesy - The Wolf Foundation)
Two Israelis, two Americans and one Briton will share $100,000 Wolf Prizes in the two categories of medicine and agriculture, according to an announcement by the Wolf Foundation on Monday. The prize in arts (music) will be announced next week. Hebrew University Profs. Howard Cedar and Aharon Razin were cited for their fundamental contributions to the control of gene expression and cancer research, while Profs. John Pickett of the UK and James Tumlinson and W. Joe Lewis of the US will share the agriculture prize for their contribution to chemical ecology. Education Minister Yuli Tamir, who chairs the foundation's council, announced the winners of the prizes, which will be presented by President Shimon Peres at a special ceremony at the Knesset on May 25. The Israel-based Wolf Foundation was established by the late German-born inventor, diplomat and philanthropist, Dr. Ricardo Wolf. Five annual Wolf Prizes, of $100,000 in each area, have been awarded since 1978, to outstanding scientists and artists, "for achievements in the interest of mankind and friendly relations among peoples, irrespective of nationality, race, color, religion, sex, or political view." They are considered the Israeli equivalent of the Nobel Prize. So far, a total of 241 scientists and artists from 22 countries have been honored. Cedar and Razin were found worthy of the prize for their fundamental contributions to our understanding of the role of DNA methylation in the biological function of higher organisms, with widespread impact on studies of development, control of gene expression and cancer research. DNA methylation (chemical changes in the DNA molecule) is a very basic aspect of animal cell biology, involved in the regulation of a large number of physiological, developmental and pathological processes. The foundations of this field were laid, almost exclusively, through the work of Cedar and Razin. Cedar, born in the US in 1943, received his Ph.D. from New York University in 1970. He was a research associate at the US National Institute of Health and then moved to Israel, where he has been with Hebrew U. ever since. Born in Israel in 1935, Razin received his Ph.D. in 1967 from Hebrew U. and went to the California Institute of Technology in 1969 as a research fellow. He has been at Hebrew U. since 1962 and, for the last 20 years, has been the Jacob Grunbaum professor of medical sciences. Both Cedar and Razin have received the Israel Prize and are members of the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO) and the Human Genome Organization. Pickett, of Rothamsted Research in Harpenden, UK shares the agriculture prize with Tumlinson of Pennsylvania State University and Lewis of the US Agricultural Research Service in the state of Georgia, US for their remarkable discoveries of mechanisms governing plant-insect and plant-plant interactions. Their scientific contributions on chemical ecology have fostered the development of integrated pest management and significantly advanced agricultural sustainability.