A researcher checks a slide (illustrative)
A researcher checks a slide (illustrative)Israel news photo: Flash 90

Laureates in the fields of agriculture, chemistry, mathematics, medicine, physics and art will be honored in May by Israel's Wolf Foundation Council. The Wolf Prize, being awarded for the 33rd year, is considered second in prestige to the Nobel Prize. One out of every three scientists to win the award eventually goes on to win the Nobel Prize.

Recipients will receive a total of $100,000 in prize money, to be presented by President Shimon Peres at a special session of the Knesset. 

Ten scientists and a German artist will receive the prize this year, including Professors Shinya Yamanaka of Kyoto University in Japan and Rudolf Jaenische of the Whitehead Institute at MIT in Cambridge, MA for their achievements in medicine. The two professors have created pluripotent stem cells from skin cells and demonstrated that they can be used to cure genetic disease in mice.

University of Illinois animal sciences professor Harris Lewin, head of the school's Institute for Genomic Biology, will receive the award for agriculture, together with James R. Cook of Washington State University. Lewin identified genes that create resistance to bovine leukemia, and also patented a method of detecting animals that can pass resistance to the disease to their offspring. Cook was selected for his work in plant pathology and soil microbiology, helping to improve crop productivity and disease management.

Professor of Chemical Engineering Ching Tang, at the University of Rochester, will be awarded the prize in chemistry for his work in organic electronics and photovoltaics, together with Professor Stuart Alan Rice of the University of Chicago and Professor Krzystof Matyjaszewski of Carnegie Mellon University.

The physics prize went to Professor Maxmilian Haider of the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Professor Harald Rose of the Technical University of Darmstadt and Professor Knut Urban of the Research Centre Jilich in Aachen, all of Germany. The three will receive the ward for their work in developing aberration-corrected electron microscopy that allows the observation of individual atoms with picometer precision.

Painter and sculptor Rosemarie Trockel of Cologne, Germany will receive the award for art.

The Wolf Foundation began its activities in 1976 with an initial endowment of $10 million donated by the Wolf family, hence the name. The late German-born Dr. Ricardo Wolf, who served as Cuba's Ambassador to Israel from 1961 to 1973, established the fund. Annual income from investments is used for prizes, scholarships and the organization's operating expenses. The foundation awards prizes to outstanding scientists and artists for "achievements in the interest of mankind and friendly relations among peoples." The foundation also awards scholarships to undergraduate and graduate students, as well as scientists involved in research at Israeli institutions of higher education.