Hormone Sturation and Random Processes 2019 Prize

The prize in medicine will be awarded to the researcher who discovered the “hormone of satiety” in chemistry for the developers of an important reaction in mathematics to probability theory researchers, agriculture to environmental economics researcher and architect Moshe Safdie.

The Wolf Prize, an international prize awarded annually in five fields of science and art, is the most prestigious award in Israel. This year the prize will be awarded in medicine, chemistry, mathematics, agriculture, and architecture. The winners were announced today this week and the prizes themselves, in the amount of $ 100,000 each, will be awarded at a Knesset ceremony in May.

The award will be awarded to Jeffrey Friedman of Rockefeller University in New York for the discovery of the leptin hormone, which regulates hunger.

Friedman, 65, grew up in New York. He was very interested in obesity factors, and studying a strain of mice mutated in a particular gene made them much more obese than normal mice. Friedman sought to understand how only one gene causes such a radical change, and after eight years of research in advanced genetic tools for the period he managed to identify the ob gene, and later its product – a protein hormone that it called leptin. It turned out that the fat cells secrete leptin into the blood, and it affects the brain. When there is a lack of fat, the level of leptin decreases, leading to an arousal of appetite, while high levels of leptin signal excess fat and cause satiety. Therefore in certain situations of obesity treatment with leptin may help in reducing appetite and losing weight.

Friedman’s research paved the way for a fuller understanding of the system that regulates feelings of hunger and satiety, and led to the development of drugs and treatments.

The award in chemistry will be awarded to Stephen Buchwald of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and to John Hartwig of the University of California at Berkeley for developing an efficient process for chemical bonding between carbon rings and nitrogen atoms  a key stage in the production of many organic compounds.

Buchwald (64) turned to chemistry studies inspired by a teacher who taught him in high school. He completed his doctorate in organic chemistry at Harvard University, and in 1984 received a research post at MIT. Hartwig (55) completed his doctorate at Berkeley in 1990 and remained there as a researcher.

The two researchers dealt separately with the challenge of developing an efficient method of linking a nitrogen atom to a ring made up of six carbon atoms. Such a link is a key component in many materials, and its efficient production is essential in the production of drugs and other substances. By the mid-1980s, researchers had proposed using a palladium metal catalyst, but these reactions were very limited. Since the mid-1990s, Buchwald and Hartwig have introduced many improvements in the method, now called the Buchwald-Hartwig eminition, and have many uses in the pharmaceutical industry and in the chemical industry in general.

To make the connection between nitrogen and carbon with palladium, for the benefit of the pharmaceutical industry. Buchwald (on the right) and Hartwig Photos: Wolf Foundation
To make the connection between nitrogen and carbon with palladium, for the benefit of the pharmaceutical industry. Buchwald (on the right) and Hartwig Photos: Wolf Foundation

The award will be awarded to Gregory Lawler of the University of Chicago and Jean-François Le Gall of the University of Paris-South Orsay for their research in probability theory.

Lawler, 64, who completed his doctorate at Princeton University, continued the works of Israeli mathematician Oded Shrem, who was killed in an accident in 2008. Schramm was involved in the development of a mathematical tool to prove complex hypotheses in statistical mechanics (Schramm-Loewner evolution), and Lawler expanded the use of this tool to study many phenomena in which Brownian motion, an important process in the physics of random event flow, Stochastic that describes random motion and has uses in many scientific fields.

La Gaulle (60) completed his studies at the Ecole Normale Superior in Paris, and he also studies random processes, including Brownian motion, super-processes, Levi processes, random trees, random graphs and more.

The Prize in Agriculture will be awarded to economist David Silberman of the University of California at Berkeley for his research on economic models of agricultural and environmental processes.

Zilberman (72) was born and raised in Jerusalem, and completed his BA in Economics and Statistics from Tel Aviv University. In 1979 he completed his doctoral studies at the University of California at Berkeley and remained there as a researcher in the Department of Agricultural Economics.

One of the models developed by Silberman deals with the economic and environmental aspects of pest control, and helps to better understand when a particular animal is harmful, at what stage there is an economic advantage to action against it, and when the pest itself can be used as a resource. This model helped to deal with wild pigs in California.

Additional models of Silberman deal with the intelligent use of natural resources such as water and soil, the treatment of animal waste, the use of environmental technologies and environmental aspects of agriculture.

Economic aspects of pest control, resource management, and even waste treatment. David Zilberman Photo: Keren Wolf.

This year’s prize will be awarded to Israeli architect Moshe Safdie, who has designed many important buildings in Israel.

Safdie (80) was born in Haifa and grew up in Montreal, Canada, where he studied architecture. After the Six-Day War, his family settled in the Jewish quarter of Jerusalem. He planned many buildings in the capital, including the Yad Vashem Museum, the Mamilla compound and the IDF Square, and also planned Terminal 3 at Ben Gurion Airport, the Yitzhak Rabin Center, the tombstone of Yitzhak and Leah Rabin, residential neighborhoods and many buildings. Outside of Israel, and designed many public buildings in Canada and Singapore.

Shaped the renewed face of Jerusalem after the Six-Day War. Moshe Safdie Photo: Keren Wolf

Ricardo Wolf was born in 1887 in Hannover, Germany, and before World War I settled in Cuba. He and his brother Siegfried developed an efficient method for recycling iron from foundry waste. Many factories in the world used the invention, and it made Wolff a very well-off man. Wolf, who had become wealthy by virtue of capitalism, was an enthusiastic socialist and greatly contributed to the rule of Fidel Castro in Cuba. In 1960 Castro appointed him a Cuban delegate to Israel (a lower-level ambassador). Wolff held the position until the severing of ties between Cuba and Israel following the Yom Kippur War in 1973, but remained in Israel until his death in 1981.

In 1975 Wolf founded the prize-winning foundation of his name and awards prizes to scientists and artists from around the world. The foundation also awards young scientists, scholarships and research grants, but is recognized for its “Wolf Prize”, which is considered very prestigious in the sciences and arts. The prize is awarded in physics, chemistry, medicine, mathematics and agriculture, and in some fields of art, in a permanent rotation – each year the prizes are awarded in four scientific fields and one in art. The Wolf Prize was also considered the “predictor” of the Nobel Prizes – about a quarter of the prize winners in the fields of physics, chemistry and medicine were later awarded the Nobel Prize.


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