Ada Yonath, joint recipient of the 2009 Nobel Prize for chemistry, is an Israeli crystallographer known for her work on the structure of ribosome, a part of the cell that synthesizes protein and translates genetic code in the production of protein. She is the director of the Centre for Biomolecular Structure and Assembly at Israel's prestigious Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, south of Tel Aviv, and a member of the USA National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Art and Science, and the European Academy of Art and Science.
In addition to being a Nobel Laureate, she is also the recipient of 30 honorary doctorates and international and Israeli awards, including the Albert Einstein World Award of Science from Princeton University, the UNESCO-L'Oreal award for European women in life sciences, and the Linus Pauling Gold Medal.
Yonath was born in Jerusalem in 1939, but grew up in Tel Aviv, working to support her family while completing high school.
She received her graduate degree in chemistry, and her post- graduate degree in biochemistry, from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. She studied for her doctorate at the Weizmann Institute and did post-doctoral research at the Mellon Institute in Pittsburgh and at the Massachusetts Institute for Technology.
On her return form the US in 1970, she took up a research position at the Weizmann Institute, becoming a senior scientist at the Institute's Chemistry department in 1974, an associate professor four years later, and a full professor in 1988.
Yonath shares the 2009 Nobel Prize for chemistry with US nationals Venkatraman Ramakrishnan and Thomas A Steitz.
"I'm pretty surprised, because I wasn't expecting it," she said Wednesday.
Yonath is only the fourth woman, and the first since Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin in 1964, to win the Nobel Chemistry award.
She is also the ninth, and first female, Israeli Nobel Laureate. (read more...)