Ada E. Yonath
Born: 22 June 1939, Jerusalem, British Mandate of Palestine (now Israel)
Affiliation at the time of the award: Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel
Prize motivation: "for studies of the structure and function of the ribosome"
Field: biochemistry, structural chemistry
Prize share: 1/3
An organism's vital functions are managed by large, complex protein molecules produced in cells' ribosomes. There, genetic information from "messenger RNA" is translated into chains of amino acids that then build proteins. In the 1970s, Ada Yonath began a project that culminated in 2000 in her successful mapping (together with other researchers) of the structure of ribosomes, which consist of hundreds of thousands of atoms, using x-ray crystallography. Among other applications, this has been important in the production of antibiotics.