NEW YORK, N.Y. – Yiddishe mamas (and papas) are no doubt “kvelling” the world over…and with good reason: Five of this year’s seven Nobel Prize winners in science and medicine are Jewish.
Ralph Steinman and Bruce Beutler were awarded the Nobel Prize for medicine for their discoveries on the immune system, along with French biologist Jules Hoffmann.
Steinman will receive the award posthumously, passing just three days before the Nobel committee announced his award. According to the organization’s bylaws, the award is not given for work produced by a person since deceased. Calling the turn of events “unique” and “unprecedented,” however, the Nobel Foundation board voted nonetheless to award the prize to Steinman, since he was named a Laureate before the board had received notification of his death. “The decision to award the Nobel Prize to Ralph Steinman was made in good faith, based on the assumption that the Nobel Laureate was alive,” the board explained in its ruling.
Saul Perlmutter and Adam G. Ross, both American Jews, are two of the three Nobel Prize winners in physics, recognized “for the discovery of the accelerating expansion of the Universe through observations of distant supernovae.”
Israeli scientist Daniel Shechtman of the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology is winner the Nobel Prize in chemistry. The Technion is now home to three of the four Israelis in the country’s history to be awarded the Nobel Prize in science. Shechtman won the award for his discovery of quasicrystals – an entirely new form of matter.
“That an Israeli has once again been awarded a Nobel Prize is a mark of distinction for Israeli science in general and for the Technion,” said Technion President Peretz Lavie. “And the fact that this is the second Nobel Prize in the sciences for Technion researchers in the last eight years is a clear indicator of the world-class research being done there.”
Israelis have won the Nobel Prize in literature in 1966, in peace in 1978 and 1994, economics in 2002 and 2005, and chemistry in 2004, 2009 and 2011.