Eight to receive Wolf Prizes at Knesset in May

The Wolf Prizes – considered Israel’s equivalent of the Nobel Prizes and often a precursor of the Nobel Prizes themselves – will be awarded next month to seven esteemed foreigners from England, Germany, the US, France, and Austria, who will share five $100,000 awards.
The recipients were announced on Thursday by Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar, whose ministry is responsible for the prizes on behalf of the Wolf Foundation.
Since 1978, they have been given in the fields of medicine, physics, mathematics and agriculture, and various arts in rotation – this year, the prize is for architecture. President Shimon Peres will confer the prizes at a special Knesset ceremony on May 13.
The Wolf Prize has so far been awarded 27 times to 253 scientists and artists from 23 countries (among them 18 from Israel). The Israel-based Wolf Foundation was established by the late German-born inventor, diplomat and philanthropist Dr. Ricardo Wolf, who served as Cuban ambassador to Israel.
The prize in medicine will be awarded for 2010 to Prof. Axel Ullrich of Germany for his groundbreaking cancer research, which has led to the development of innovative drugs, including Herceptin, for treatment of women with breast cancer.
The international jury the field said that he “is one of a small number of basic scientists whose work has impacted not only basic research, but also aided millions of patients suffering from diverse chronic diseases.”
The agriculture prize will be given to Sir David Baulcombe of Cambridge University, for research in which he demonstrated how plants defend themselves against viral attack, through a mechanism known as “gene silencing.”
His work, the agriculture jury said, is of basic importance, not only for agriculture, but also for other fields of biology, including medicine.
The mathematics prize will be awarded jointly to Americans Prof. Shing-Tung Yau of Harvard University for his work in geometric analysis, and to Prof. Dennis Sullivan of New York’s Stony Brook University for his innovative contributions to algebraic topology and conformal dynamics.
Three scientists will share the physics prize: Prof. Alain Aspect of the French Institut d’Optique; Dr. John F. Clauser of J. F. Clauser & Associates in the US; and Prof. Anton Zeilinger of the University of Vienna and the Institute for Quantum Optics and Quantum Information.
The three were cited for their “fundamental conceptual and experimentalcontributions to the foundations of quantum physics, specifically anincreasingly sophisticated series of tests of Bell’s inequalities, orextensions thereof, using entangled quantum states.”
The Wolf Prize in architecture goes to David Chipperfield of Englandwho, the jury said, has devoted himself to building timeless designs,rather than just what was fashionable.
Two of his prize works are the award-winning Neues Museum in Berlin and the Rowing Museum in Henley-on-Thames.