The Wolf Prize, granted to those who have made unique contributions in the arts and sciences, was awarded at a ceremony hosted Monday by President Reuven Rivlin. Among the new Wolf Prize Laureates are three scientists whose groundbreaking work with RNA has contributed to Israel's fight against the coronavirus pandemic.
Six scientists and two artists were awarded the prize this year. Among them are Prof. Joan Steitz, Prof. Lynne Maquat and Prof. Adrian Kraine, who were awarded the prize for their work in the field of RNA biology and RNA regulatory mechanisms. Their work demonstrated that RNA plays an important role in regulating and diversifying gene expression.
"This year, the three laureates in the field of medicine are pioneering researchers of RNA, the mechanism on which the coronavirus vaccines are based and which at this very minute is saving humanity from the pandemic," said Rivlin.
Stevie Wonder and Olga Neuwirth were awarded the prize for their contributions to music. Prof. Giorgio Parisi was awarded the prize for his discoveries in disordered systems, particle physics and statistical physics. Prof. Leslie Leiserowitz and Prof. Meir Lahav were awarded the prize for their work in the field of chemistry, establishing the fundamental reciprocal influences of three-dimensional molecules upon structures of organic crystals.
The Wolf Foundation is owned by The State of Israel and was founded in 1975 to promote excellence in the arts and sciences. It is an international award given by Israel's president. It is awarded for "advancing science and art for humanity and for friendship between peoples, regardless of religion, gender, race, geographical location or position." Approximately one third of Wolf Prize Laureates have gone on to win a Nobel prize.
“The Wolf Prize expresses the State of Israel’s acknowledgement that human progress is an achievement not to be taken for granted," said Rivlin.
"It is an achievement that requires continuous investment and the cultivation of creative and critical thinking that does not give easy or superficial answers but struggles and works hard to uncover the secrets of the world and the meaning of our existence.”
“Apart from the medical and economic challenges, over the last year we have also dealt with a challenge of no lesser proportions – to preserve our sanity and our spirit," Rivlin said.
"Over the long days of lockdown, our lives were put on hold with no warning and the arts – literature, music, film – were sometimes our only escape. This year’s winners in the field of arts are two musicians from different ends of the spectrum – popular contemporary and high classical music. Each one of them can bring us out of the depths and lift our souls in a way that sometimes we don’t even fully understand.”