2012 Rothschild Prize Recipients, Four out of Five are Hebrew University Professors

At the Knesset on March 25, Lord Rothschild awarded the Rothschild Prize to five outstanding Israeli academics who have made exceptional contributions to their fields. Four of the five recipients are from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

In 1959, Yad Hanadiv established the Rothschild Prizes Organization to support, encourage and advance the Sciences and Humanities in Israel. Prizes are awarded in recognition of original and outstanding published work in the following disciplines: Agriculture, Chemical Sciences, Engineering, Humanities, Jewish Studies, Life Sciences, Mathematics, Physical Sciences and Social Sciences. They are awarded in two-year cycles; in each discipline, a Prize is awarded once in four years. Nominations for Prizes are submitted by Presidents, Rectors and Deans of Faculties of Israeli universities, Chairs of relevant university departments, members of the Israel National Academy of Sciences and Humanities and previous recipients of a Rothschild Prize in the academic discipline in which they received the Prize. The winners are selected by a Board of Advisers.

The Rothschild Prize in Life Sciences

Professor Chaim Cedar of the Cell Biochemistry Department at IMRIC, Faculty of Medicine, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, has made a decisive contribution to understanding the fundamental mechanisms for gene repression that play a key role in development. His ground-breaking discoveries in epigenetics serve as the basis for understanding many physiological processes, among them, cell differentiation, genomic imprinting, and stem cell biology. These discoveries have long term implications for understanding physiological development of the human body and of cancer cells.

The Rothschild Prize in Mathematics, Computer Sciences and Engineering

The Prize was awarded to Professor Gil Kalai, Albert Einstein Institute of Mathematics at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, for his ground-breaking work in combinatorics, convexity, and probability theory. His work on discrete harmonic analysis has had major influence in the field of computational complexity, and on other areas of theoretical computer science.

The Rothschild Prize in Jewish Studies

The Prize is awarded to Professor Moshe Idel, Department of Jewish Thought, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, for his transformative research into Kabbalah and Jewish mysticism, for development of methodology which introduces phenomenological modes of investigation and the development of theoretical tools that have facilitated interchanges between his field and other domains of Religious Studies.


The Rothschild Prize in Chemical Sciences and Physical Sciences

Professor Raphael Mechoulam of the School of Pharmacology, Faculty of Medicine, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, attained new horizons in understanding the Chemistry of natural substances that influence human behaviour and which can be found in cannabinoids. He has been a pioneer in studying the chemical basis of the activity of cannabis, and in more recent years in the elucidation of its physiological effects and potential for the development of new drugs. 


This prize is presented by Yad Hanadiv who acts in Israel on behalf of a number of Rothschild family philanthropic trusts, continuing a tradition of support for Jewish revival in Palestine begun by Baron Edmond de Rothschild in the second half of the 19th century. Established in its present form in 1958, the Foundation’s work has been guided over the years by a distinguished Advisory Committee under the leadership of members of the Rothschild family. With the assistance of the staff of Yad Hanadiv, the Foundation seeks innovative opportunities to address the needs of Israeli society.

Among past Hebrew University recipients are two subsequent Nobel Prize winners - Prof. Ada Yonath (2006) and Prof. Dan Schechtman (1990). Other notable winners include Prof. Ephraim Katzir, Prof. Gershom Scholem, Prof. Yigal Yadin, Prof. Yuval Neeman, Prof. S.N. Eisenstadt, Prof. Michael Bruno, Prof. Alexander Lubotzky, Prof. David Kazhdan and Prof. Ariel Rubinstein.