Wolf Prize awarded to Israeli-Canadian Nahum Sonenberg

Israel's prestigious Wolf Prize this year will honour American, Swedish and Taiwanese scientists, as well as a Canadian biochemistry prof who teaches at McGill University.

Israeli award considered precursor to Nobel Prize

McGill University biochemistry professor Nahum Sonenberg has been named a 2014 winner of the Wolf Prize in Medicine. The internationally recognized Israeli Wolf Prizes are considered to be a precursor to the Nobel Prizes. (Courtesy McGill University)

Israel's prestigious Wolf Prize this year will honour American, Swedish and Taiwanese scientists, as well as a Canadian biochemistry prof who teaches at McGill University.

Nahum Sonenberg, who was appointed an Offier of the Order of Canada in 2010 and lives in Montreal, was named one of the eight Wolf Prize winners on Thursday. He was recognized this year as one of two winners for the Wolf Prize in Medicine for his pioneering work in the discovery of the key protein regulators that control protein synthesis.

Wolf winners are considered strong contenders for Nobel prizes, with The Times of Israel newspaper referring to the awards as the "pre-Nobels." In the 35 years the Wolf Foundation has granted the awards, about one out of three laureates in chemistry, physics and medicine have gone on to receive the Nobel.

This year's winners were announced in Tel Aviv on Thursday. The other seven winners named on the Wolf Prize website are:

  • Chi-huey Wong, from Aacademica Sinica in Taiwan (Wolf Prize in Chemistry)
  • Gary Ruvkun, from the University of Massachusetts Medical School in the U.S. (Wolf Prize in Medicine)
  • Jorge Dubcovsky, from University of California Davis in the U.S. (Wolf Prize in Agriculture)
  • Leif Andersson, from Uppsala University in Sweden (Wolf Prize in Agriculture)
  • Peter Sarnak, from the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton in the U.S. (Wolf Prize in mathematics)
  • Victor Ambros, from the University of Massachusetts Medical School in the U.S. (Wolf Prize in Medicine)
  • Olafur Eliasson (Wolf Prize in Sculpture)

A statement from the foundation says American mathematician Peter Sarnak was honoured for "his deep contributions in analysis, number theory, geometrics, and combinatory."

Swedish artist Olafur Eliasson was named for "his integration of arts and science, which evokes personal and universal moments of epiphany."

The eight winners from four countries share $100,000 awards in each of five categories.

President Shimon Peres will award the prizes in May.

With files from CBC News

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