Ada E. Yonath life and biography

Ada E. Yonath picture, image, poster

Ada E. Yonath biography

Date of birth : 1939-06-22
Date of death : -
Birthplace : Jerusalem, Israel
Nationality : Israelian
Category : Science and Technology
Last modified : 2011-09-16
Credited as : biochemist, ribosomes, Nobel Prize for Chemistry

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Israeli biochemist Ada E. Yonath has studied ribosomes, large complex molecule that synthesizes protein, work which earned her the 2009 Nobel Prize in Chemistry (shared with Venkatraman Ramakrishnan and Thomas A. Steitz). She was the first scientist to observe and unravel the internal architecture of a large ribosomal subunit, and she developed a new methodology called cryocrystallography or the "cryo technique", in which protein crystals are rapid-frozen to reduce radiation damage caused by previous X-ray crystallography methods.

Yonath accepted postdoctoral positions at the Carnegie Mellon University (1969) and MIT (1970). While a postdoc at MIT she spent some time in the lab of subsequent 1976 chemistry Nobel Prize winner William N. Lipscomb, Jr. of Harvard University where she was inspired to pursue very large structures.

Two decades ago she visualized the path taken by the nascent proteins, namely the ribosomal tunnel, and recently revealed the dynamics elements enabling its involvement in elongation arrest, gating, intra-cellular regulation and nascent chain trafficking into their folding space.

Yonath elucidated the modes of action of over twenty different antibiotics targeting the ribosome, illuminated mechanisms of drug resistance and synergism, deciphered the structural basis for antibiotic selectivity and showed how it plays a key role in clinical usefulness and therapeutic effectiveness, thus paving the way for structure-based drug design.

For enabling ribosomal crystallography Yonath introduced a novel technique, cryo bio-crystallography, which became routine in structural biology and allowed intricate projects otherwise considered formidable.

At the Weizmann Institute, Yonath is the incumbent of the Martin S. and Helen Kimmel Professorial Chair.

Career and awards:

Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities 2000
National Academy of Sciences 2003
National Institutes of Health
European Crystallographic Association Max Perutz Prize 2000
Harvey Prize 2002
Israel Prize 2002
Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize 2005
Paul Ehrlich and Ludwig Darmstaedter Prize 2007
Wolf Prize in Chemistry 2007:(with George Feher)
L'Oréal-UNESCO Award for Women in Science 2008
Nobel Prize for Chemistry 2009:(with Venkatraman Ramakrishnan and Thomas A. Steitz)
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