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American, Canadian and Israeli Scientists to Receive the 2005 Wolf Prize in Medicine for Developing Effective Agents Against Cancer

Jerusalem: January 11, 2005 - Minister of Education, Culture and Sport, Mrs. Limor Livnat, chairperson of the Wolf Foundation Council, announced that the 2005 Wolf Prize in Medicine will be jointly awarded to Anthony R. Hunter, of the Salk Institute, La Jolla, California, USA; Anthony J. Pawson, of the Lunenfeld Research Institute, Mount Sinai Hospital, Toronto, Canada; and Alexander Levitzki, for research in cancer development and treatment. The three recipients will share the $100,000 Prize, in equal parts. The Prize will be presented by the President of the State of Israel, Mr. Moshe Katsav, at a special ceremony, at the Knesset (parliament) in Jerusalem, on Sunday, May 22, 2005.

Since the mid-twentieth century, medical scientists have worked intensively to find explanations of how different kinds of cancers arise, in hope that by understanding the basic underlying science, new drugs can be developed to combat these cancers. Two of the winners of the 2005 Wolf Foundation Prize for Medicine, Professors Hunter and Pawson, have explained how a basic mechanism for transmitting information can break down and lead to malignancy. The third winner, Professor Levitzki, has created drugs that block the disrupted signaling route, thus preventing the development of some cancers. By targeting cancer cells specifically, without damaging normal cells, the unpleasant side-effects associated with traditional chemotherapy and radiotherapy, are avoided.

British-born Professor Anthony Rex Hunter, 61, is recognized for "the discovery of protein kinases that phosphorylate tyrosine residues in proteins, critical for the regulation of a wide variety of cellular events, including malignant transformation. His contributions lie at the heart of signaling pathways and their disorders," the Jury stated. Fellow of the Royal Society of London, and Foreign Associate of the National Academy of Sciences, USA, Hunter, received his Ph.D. in 1969, from the University of Cambridge . He has been associated with the Salk Institute since 1971, and was appointed Professor of Biology in 1982. Since 1983, Hunter has been Adjunct Professor at the University of California, San Diego .

Professor Anthony James Pawson, 52, is cited for "his discovery of protein domains essential for mediating protein-protein interactions in cellular signaling pathways, and the insights this research has provided into cancer," posited the Jury in this field. Born in the U.K. , Pawson received his B.A. in Biochemistry, from Cambridge University, in 1973, and his Ph.D. in Molecular Biology , from London University, in 1976. From 1981 to 1985, he was Assistant Professor at the University of British Columbia, Canada. Since 1985, Pawson has been a Senior Scientist at the Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute, Mount Sinai Hospital, in Toronto, Canada. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of London and Foreign Associate of the National Academy of Sciences, USA. Since 1985, Pawson has been a Full Professor, at the Department of Medical Genetics, University of Toronto .

Professor Alexander Levitzki, 64, is recognized "for pioneering signal transduction therapy and for developing tyrosine kinase inhibitors as effective agents against cancer and a range of other diseases. He demonstrated that such an inhibitor to Bcr-Abl kinase induces death of chronic myeloid leukemia cells. This is currently used, with great success, in the therapy of patients afflicted by the disease," the Jury asserted. Born in Israel, Levitzki received his Ph.D. in Biochemistry and Biophysics from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Weizmann Institute of Science, in 1968. In 1976, Levitzki was appointed Professor of Biochemistry at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He has been Visiting Scientist at the National Cancer Institute, NIH, Bethesda, Maryland, and Visiting Scholar at Stanford University, California, USA . Professor Levitzki is Member of the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities.

The Israel-based Wolf Foundation was established by the late German-born inventor, diplomat and philanthropist, Dr. Ricardo Wolf. A resident of Cuba for many years, Wolf became Fidel Castro's ambassador to Israel , where he lived until his death in 1981. Five annual Wolf Prizes have been awarded since 1978, to outstanding scientists and artists, "for achievements in the interest of mankind and friendly relations among peoples, irrespective of nationality, race, color, religion, sex, or political view." The prizes of $100,000 in each area, are given every year in four out of five scientific fields, in rotation: Agriculture, Chemistry, Mathematics, Medicine and Physics. In the Arts, the Prize rotates among Architecture, Music, Painting and Sculpture. To date, a total of 224 scientists and artists from 21 countries have been honored.

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