What was first: The genetic code or its products?

Ada E. Yonath
Technical lecture
November 15, 2013

About the speaker

Ada E. Yonath

Director, Helen and Milton A. Kimmelman Center for Biomolecular Structure and Assembly, Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel

Bio

Ada Yonath studies the universal fundamental process of the translating the genetic code into proteins, focusing on ribosomes, the cellular “factories” performing this task. Based on the universality of the ribosomes, she is exploring the origins of life as well as their clinical significance, as owing to their fundamental significance, the ribosomes are targeted by many antibiotics. Thus, by investigating their action alongside the mechanisms acquiring antibiotics resistance, she is revealing novel routes for structure-based drug improvements and design.

She was born in Jerusalem, studied at the Hebrew University, earned a Ph.D. degree from Weizmann Institute of Science (WIS) and completed her postdoctoral studies at Carnegie Mellon University and MIT in the USA. In the ‘70s she established the first laboratory for protein crystallography in Israel, which was the only laboratory of this kind in the country for almost a decade. She then spent a sabbatical leave in Chicago University and served as a lecturer in several universities, including Valdivia in Chili. Currently she is the WIS Kimmel Professor of structural biology and the Director of the Kimmelman Center for Biomolecular Structure and Assembly. In parallel, during 1986-2004 she directed the Max-Planck-Research-Unit for Ribosome Structure, in Hamburg, Germany.

She is a member of the US National Academy of Sciences; the American Academy of Arts & Sciences; the Israel Academy of Sciences & Humanities; the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO); the European Academy of Sciences & Art; the German Academy of Sciences (Leopoldina); the Korean Academy for Science & Technology; the International Academy of Microbiology and the International Academy of Astronautics.

She holds honorary doctorates from almost all Israeli Universities; from KEK, Japan; Oslo U, Norway; Fujian U, China; NYU and Mount Sinai Universities, NYC; Hamburg University; Patras U. Greece; Oxford and Cambridge Universities, UK.

Her awards include the 1st European Crystallography Prize; the Israel Prize; the Paul Karrer Gold Medal; the Israel EMET award; the Rothschild Prize; Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize of Columbia U, NY; the Paul Ehrlich-Ludwig Medal; Linus Pauling Gold Medal; Anfinsen Prize; Wolf Prize; Massry Award; UNESCO/L’Oreal Award for Women in Science; Albert Einstein World Award for Excellence; Erice Peace Prize; DESY pin; Exner medal; the Indian PM Gold medal; President of Panama Award; Maria Sklodowska-Curie Medal of the Polish Chemical Society; Cite of Florence Prize; Datta Medal; and the Nobel Prize for Chemistry.