Ada E. Yonath

International Jury

Ada E. Yonath

Biochemistry
2009 Nobel Prize laureate

Nobel Prize winner Ada Yonath is a prominent biochemist, renowned mainly for her research on the structure of ribosomes. Her research has led not only to the development of new antibiotics but also to a better understanding of resistance to them. She is currently the director of the Helen and Milton A. Kimmelman Center for Biomolecular Structure and Assembly at the Weizmann Institute of Sciences. Her ongoing research focuses on antibiotic resistance, the development of new antibiotics, and the origin of life itself.

Although Ada Yonath was born into an impoverished family in Jerusalem, she received an excellent education in part by supporting herself financially by tutoring in mathematics as a child. In her native Israel, she also completed her bachelor's and master's studies in chemistry, biochemistry, and biophysics at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. As part of her doctoral thesis, she conducted her research at the Weizmann Institute of Sciences, where, after completing her doctorate, she established the first biological crystallographic laboratory in Israel.

Ada Yonath and her team began researching the ribosome structure after 1970. After thirty years, this bore fruit in 2000-2001 when they were the first to map both sub-units of the ribosome in three dimensions. Following this success, they continued their research and Ada Yonath clarified more than 20 antibiotic functions, paving the way for the development of new drugs.

In 2009, Ada Yonath received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for her successful ribosome research. She thus became the first Israeli Nobel laureate and the fourth woman in history to win the Nobel Prize in Chemistry.