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Ninth Israeli to Receive Nobel Prize

Prof. Ada Yonath of Israel will mark a few firsts today when she receives the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in Stockholm, Sweden.
By Hillel Fendel
First Publish: 12/10/2009, 1:15 PM / Last Update: 12/10/2009, 1:06 PM

Prof. Ada Yonath of Israel will mark a few firsts today (Thursday) when she receives the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in Stockholm, Sweden.

She is the first Israeli woman to win a Nobel Prize, and the first researcher from the Weizmann Institute to win it. She is also one of only four women to have ever won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in the nearly 110 years it has been awarded, and the ninth Israeli to have won any Nobel Prize.

Other Israeli Winners
Five years ago, Israelis Aaron Ciechanover and Avram Hershko shared the Nobel Prize in Chemistry with Irwin Rose of the United States. 

Israeli Prof. Yisrael Aumann shared the Nobel Prize in Economic Science in 2005, as did Israeli Daniel Kahneman in 2002. The Nobel Prize award ceremonies website page features Aumann, a bearded, observant Jew, receiving his award from the King of Sweden.

Yonath will deliver an acceptance address on behalf of her two co-winners, Thomas A. Steitz of the U.S. and Venkatraman Ramakrishnan of India.  The three won the prize “for their work on the structure and function of the ribosome,” and each will receive the equivalent of more than $470,000.

Yonath, 70, has researched ribosomes for 30 years. She is credited with pioneering the technique known as Yonath ribosomal crystallography for the study of the mechanisms underlying protein biosynthesis. Ribosomes translate RNA into proteins, essentially giving the instructions for building an organism. Understanding this mechanism could result in new medicines, especially antibiotics.

Yonath heads the Helen and Milton A. Kimmelman Center for Biomolecular Structure and Assembly at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot. She will ceremoniously receive the prize, together with most of the other Nobel laureates, from King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden.  

Obama Wins Peace Prize
The Peace Prize winner, U.S. President Barack Hussein Obama, will receive his award in Oslo this afternoon.  Criticism of his award has been widely expressed, in that Obama has been in office less than a year and has recorded no major accomplishments. Obama is officially being recognized for "his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples."

The Dalai Lama, for instance, who himself won a Nobel Peace Prize 20 years ago, says he believes the award to Obama is "a little early." He also said, “I think due to his advisers' views, some of his policies have been a disaster."