Awards and Prizes

Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize to Yonath

Each year, the Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize has been awarded by Columbia U. for outstanding basic research in the fields of biology or biochemistry. The purpose of this prize is to honor a scientific investigator whose contributions to knowledge in either of these fields are deemed worthy of special recognition.

[Yonath]Ada Yonath
Ada Yonath is the director of the Helen and Milton A. Kimmelman Center for Biomolecular Structure and Assembly of the Weizmann Inst. of Science and a Professor in the Dept. of Structural Biology. Her research focuses on the mechanisms underlying protein biosynthesis by the ribosomey, a research line she pioneered over twenty years ago despite considerable skepticism by the international scientific community. She has determined the complete high-resolution structures of both ribosomal subunits. She showed that the ribosome is a ribozyme that places its substrates in stereochemistry suitable for peptide bond formation and for substrate-mediated catalysis. Two decades ago she visualized the path taken by the nascent proteins, namely the ribosomal tunnel, and recently revealed the dynamic elements enabling it’s involvement in elongation arrest, gating, intra-cellular regulation and nascent chain trafficking into their folding space. Ada elucidated the modes of action of over twenty different antibiotics targeting the ribosome, illuminated mechanisms of drug resistance, deciphered the structural basis for antibiotic selectivity and showed how it plays a key role in therapeutic effectiveness. To enable ribosomal crystallography Ada introduced the novel technique of cryo biocrystallography, which has become routine. She is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, USA; the American Academy of Arts and Sciences; the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities; the European Academy of Sciences and Art and the European Molecular Biology Organization. Her awards and honors include the Israel Prize, the first European Crystallography Prize, NIH Certificate of Distinction, the Harvey Prize, the Kilby Prize, the Cotton Medal of the US Chemical Society, the Anfinsen Award of the International Protein Society, the Datta Medal of the Federation of European Biochemical Societies, and the Fritz Lipmann Award of the German Biochemical Society.