The Martin S. and Helen Kimmel Professor of Structural Biology; Director, The Helen and Milton A. Kimmelman Center for Biomolecular Structure and Assembly, Weizmann Institute of Science
Honorary Doctor of Science and Technology
Ada Yonath, a winner of the 2009 Nobel Prize for Chemistry, is one of the most prolific scientists in the world. She earned the Nobel for her pioneering independent studies of the structure and function of the ribosome, specifically uncovering what the ribosome looks like and how it functions at the atomic level. Using X-ray crystallography, Yonath mapped the position for every one of the quarter of a million atoms that make up the ribosome.
Yonath was the first woman in 45 years to win the Nobel Prize for Chemistry and the first Israeli woman to win a Nobel. Co-winners that year were Venkatraman Ramakrishnan and Thomas A. Steitz.
Today, Yonath is focusing her research on the process of protein biosynthesis, its inhibition by antibiotics and its possible relation to the origin of life.
After graduating from Hebrew University and earning her Ph.D. from the Weizmann Institute of Science, she completed postdoctoral studies at Carnegie Mellon University (1969) and MIT. In 1971, she established the first structural biology laboratory in Israel. From 1986 to 2004, she headed the Max Planck Research Unit for Ribosome Structure in Hamburg, Germany.
In addition to the Nobel Prize, Yonath has earned numerous awards, including the Israel Prize, the Paul-Karrer Medal, the Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize, the Ehrlich Ludwig Medal, the Linus-Pauling Gold Medal, the Wolf Prize, the UNESCO/L’Oreal Award, the Albert Einstein World-Award for Excellence and the Erice Peace Prize.
She is a member of the U.S. National Academy, the Israel Academy, the German Science Academy, the European Molecular Biology Organization and the Pontifical Academy of Sciences in the Vatican.