Olga Neuwirth

Wolf Prize Laureate in Music 2021

The Jury recognizes Olga Neuwirth’s outstanding mastery, artistry and communicative skill as a composer of today.

Olga Neuwirth will share the prize with Stevie Wonder. Both Olga Neuwirth and Stevie Wonder, though fundamentally different in genre and style, have pushed the boundaries of their art, each in his/her own realm of expression, to serve as vehicle for universal values and humanistic ideals.

Olga Neuwirth was born in 1968 in Graz, Austria and studied at the Vienna Academy of Music and Performing Arts and San Francisco Conservatory of Music, also studying painting and film at San Francisco Art College. For over 30 years Olga Neuwirth’s works have explored a wide range of forms and genres: operas, radio-plays, sound-installations, art-works, photography and film-music. In many works she fuses live-music, electronics and video into audio-visual experiences. Her work, characterized by an incomparable tonal language and the exploration of new musical forms, has been highly celebrated by audiences and critics worldwide over the last decades and is without doubt a significant enrichment of the repertoire of contemporary music. Olga Neuwirth is one of the most complete contemporary composers of her generation. Her constant quest for adventure and innovation has resulted in a creative outpouring of a rare intensity and her work is a testimony to a masterful, singular voice that is ever-resistant to outside pressures. Her Music-theatre pieces expand the collaborative vocabulary of opera, to explore further interactions between traditional ensembles, live-electronics, imagery and architecture using advanced audio-visual technologies, unfolding a new world of sound images, mixing traditional fragments of multiple source, creating metamorphoses characterized by shifts, transgressions and associative references. Neuwirth chooses her topics with great sensitivity and relevance. They run from focusing on the human voice as a manifestation of the soul, through feminism and gender identity to poignant reflection on dark historical moments. Olga Neuwirth’s brilliant and courageous art serves her as a platform to explore burning contemporary philosophical, social and political ideas, bringing them to the awareness of multiple audiences in the world’s most prestigious venues

Stevie Wonder

Wolf Prize Laureate in Music 2021

The Jury recognizes Stevie Wonder’s remarkable musical and philanthropic contributions, enriching the lives of generations of music lovers.

Stevie Wonder will share the Wolf Prize with the composer Olga Neuwirth. Both Neuwirth and Wonder, though fundamentally different in genre and style, have pushed the boundaries of their art, each in his/her own realm of expression, to serve as a vehicle for universal values and humanistic ideals.

Stevie Wonder, Born in Michigan, 1950, a world-renowned singer, songwriter, instrumentalist, record producer -and an outstanding ambassador for peace. Stevie Wonder’s music draws its inspiration from rhythm and blues, jazz, soul, and Funk, but its core is welded deeply into the rich culture of the black community throughout the history of the United States and its roots in Africa. Stevie Wonder’s Beautiful and soulful lyrics reflect a wide variety of relevant topics, from deep personal thoughts and emotions up to social and political issues that deal with discrimination, racism, Poverty and cultural expression within society as such they continue to be extremely relevant up to this day While the music contribution of Stevie Wonder has shaped popular music worldwide since the 1960s, with dozens of records and numerous unforgettable songs, his ongoing commitment to support social struggles in the interest of mankind and his activism for peace.

Stevie Wonder, has been one of the brightest stars in the firmament of singers and song-writers for almost 50 years. In the USA, he has received practically every outstanding Honor and Award and is generally considered an icon of the American music scene. In his brilliant and unique musical language that broadened the melodic, harmonic and sound-concept of the genre, he has transformed the music world and influenced many of the great musicians who came after him. Wonder has combined words and music to articulate joy and pain, deeply rooted in hardship, sadness and injustice, criticizing the racist American society. His message of love and peace and universal brotherly love have inspired and helped so many. Wonder has left strong, lasting marks as a humanitarian, philanthropist and civil rights activist, as he has used his success and fame to affect people and make the world a better place.

Leslie Leiserowitz

Wolf Prize Laureate in Chemistry 2021

Professor Leslie Leiserowitz
Weizmann Institute of Science

2021 Wolf Prize in chemistry is awarded to Prof. Leslie Leiserowitz and Prof. Meir Lahav for collaboratively established the fundamental reciprocal influences of three-dimensional molecular structure upon structures of organic crystals.

Crystal formation is one of the most fundamental phenomena in chemistry. The structure of organic crystals is of particular importance because the crystal shape (morphology) reflects the three-dimensional structure (stereochemistry) of the molecules assembled in that crystal. In 1848 Louis Pasteur conducted his famous experiment, physically separating the two crystalline forms of a tartaric acid salt, which mirror one another. Pasteur’s experiment became the basis for modern stereochemistry, and it was followed by the study of the first Nobel Laureate in Chemistry, Jacobus H. van’t Hoff. However, neither Pasteur, van’t Hoff, nor many other famous chemists failed to understand the relationship between crystal morphology and molecular stereochemistry.

It took nearly 140 years until Professors Lahav and Leiserowitz conducted their milestone experiments in the Mid-1980s, demonstrating for the first time that the absolute configuration of molecules can be derived from their crystal morphologies. They not only solved the long-standing puzzle but also pioneered the science of organic crystals’ stereochemistry. They directly related the stereochemistry of the individual molecule to the shape of the macroscopic crystal. They founded the links between molecular structure, crystal morphology, crystal growth’ dynamics, and molecular chirality (the structural property of an object, which makes it different from its mirror image, like the human hands). Their findings laid the foundation for our current knowledge of the selective self-assembly of organic molecules. In this way, their rules powerfully complement our understanding of organic chemistry for covalent assembly and macromolecules’ self-assembly.

Furthermore, Lahav and Leiserowitz applied their theories for the design and engineering of chiral crystals, controlling the relative growth-rate of crystal faces through both acceleration and inhibition with trace amounts of specific chiral additives. They have engineered two- and three-dimensional crystals and explained their crystal growth dynamics. They have demonstrated for the first time that it was possible to design crystals that could lead to products that were not available by conventional methods. They have also explained variety of pathological crystallization, including those of cholesterol in blood vessels, and malaria pigment in Plasmodium infected red blood cells.

Since all biological systems are composed of molecules of a single chirality, the fundamental scientific question of the origin of life on Earth is closely related to the origin of chirality in nature. Lahav and Leiserowitz have addressed possible pathways to this phenomenon by showing that specific chemical reactions can display chiral amplification in forming one component from a racemic mixture (a mixture of both chiral forms in equal proportions). They demonstrated how polymerization within two-dimensional racemic crystallites could generate homochiral oligopeptides. These observations, therefore, valuably link small-molecule organic assembly in crystals to consequent homochiral biopolymers. Thus, their elegant experiments have created theoretical bases for the emergence of life’s complex chemical machinery from simpler prebiotic mixtures.

Meir Lahav

Wolf Prize Laureate in Chemistry 2021

Professor Meir Lahav
Weizmann Institute of Science

2021 Wolf Prize in chemistry is awarded to Prof. Leslie Leiserowitz and Prof. Meir Lahav for collaboratively established the fundamental reciprocal influences of three-dimensional molecular structure upon structures of organic crystals.

Crystal formation is one of the most fundamental phenomena in chemistry. The structure of organic crystals is of particular importance because the crystal shape (morphology) reflects the three-dimensional structure (stereochemistry) of the molecules assembled in that crystal. In 1848 Louis Pasteur conducted his famous experiment, physically separating the two crystalline forms of a tartaric acid salt, which mirror one another. Pasteur’s experiment became the basis for modern stereochemistry, and it was followed by the study of the first Nobel Laureate in Chemistry, Jacobus H. van’t Hoff. However, neither Pasteur, van’t Hoff, nor many other famous chemists failed to understand the relationship between crystal morphology and molecular stereochemistry.

It took nearly 140 years until Professors Lahav and Leiserowitz conducted their milestone experiments in the Mid-1980s, demonstrating for the first time that the absolute configuration of molecules can be derived from their crystal morphologies. They not only solved the long-standing puzzle but also pioneered the science of organic crystals’ stereochemistry. They directly related the stereochemistry of the individual molecule to the shape of the macroscopic crystal. They founded the links between molecular structure, crystal morphology, crystal growth’ dynamics, and molecular chirality (the structural property of an object, which makes it different from its mirror image, like the human hands). Their findings laid the foundation for our current knowledge of the selective self-assembly of organic molecules. In this way, their rules powerfully complement our understanding of organic chemistry for covalent assembly and macromolecules’ self-assembly.

Furthermore, Lahav and Leiserowitz applied their theories for the design and engineering of chiral crystals, controlling the relative growth-rate of crystal faces through both acceleration and inhibition with trace amounts of specific chiral additives. They have engineered two- and three-dimensional crystals and explained their crystal growth dynamics. They have demonstrated for the first time that it was possible to design crystals that could lead to products that were not available by conventional methods. They have also explained variety of pathological crystallization, including those of cholesterol in blood vessels, and malaria pigment in Plasmodium infected red blood cells.

Since all biological systems are composed of molecules of a single chirality, the fundamental scientific question of the origin of life on Earth is closely related to the origin of chirality in nature. Lahav and Leiserowitz have addressed possible pathways to this phenomenon by showing that specific chemical reactions can display chiral amplification in forming one component from a racemic mixture (a mixture of both chiral forms in equal proportions). They demonstrated how polymerization within two-dimensional racemic crystallites could generate homochiral oligopeptides. These observations, therefore, valuably link small-molecule organic assembly in crystals to consequent homochiral biopolymers. Thus, their elegant experiments have created theoretical bases for the emergence of life’s complex chemical machinery from simpler prebiotic mixtures.

Giorgio Parisi

Wolf Prize Laureate in Physics 2021

Professor Giorgio Parisi

University of Roma I ‘‘La Sapienza’’

The 2021 Wolf prize in Physics is awarded to Giorgio Parisi for ground-breaking discoveries in disordered systems, particle physics and statistical physics.

Giorgio Parisi, Professor of theoretical physics at the University of Roma I, ‘‘La Sapienza,’’ whose research has focused on quantum field theory, statistical mechanics, and complex systems.

His father and grandfather were both construction workers, and the young Parisi was encouraged to become an engineer. Instead, Parisi was drawn to the complicated abstractions he read in books of popular science, science fiction and mathematics and wanted to do something that involved research. Parisi was torn between majoring in physics and mathematics. He attracted by the adventurous nature of research and sees physics as the terrain on which to play his intellectual challenge at the highest level. Parisi graduated in physics in 1970 in the shortest possible time, under the direction of Nicola Cabibbo. Parisi’s achievements span many areas of modern physics and even the field of biological models. He is author of many books, articles and ideas that have opened up new areas of research.

The Wolf Prize in Physics is awarded to Giorgio Parisi for being one of the most creative and influential theoretical physicists in recent decades. His work has a large impact on diverse branches of physical sciences, spanning the areas of particle physics, critical phenomena, disordered systems as well as optimization theory and mathematical physics. In 1977 together with Altarelli, Parisi discovered the evolution equations allowing to accurately formulating how quarks and gluons are distributed inside the proton and nuclei (they were discovered independently by Yu. L. Dokshitzer). Parisi’s work was indispensable in analyzing the fundamental structure of matter at the smallest possible distance scale done through high-energy scattering of elementary particles. His results have served in preparing and analyzing the experiments performed at the Large-Hardon-Collider (LHC), for dark matter searches, and are used today in the planning experiments for the Future Circular Collider.

In another series of seminal works from 1979-84, Parisi introduced the concept of replica symmetry breaking and applied it to models of “spin-glasses” (the Sherrington-Kirkpatrick model), where no simple order parameter exists. His remarkable intuition led him to the discovery of the non-ergodic nature of the frustrated spin-glass phase, where many pure states unrelated by symmetry coexist, with a highly non-trivial ultra-metric structure. Parisi’s suggestion of a new organization of matter has led to a paradigm shift in statistical physics, and many applications followed in other disordered systems such as structural glasses, neural networks, and combinatorial optimization theory.

His highly innovative work (with Sourlas) in studying classical phase transitions has led to the possibility to identify the actual realization of a symmetry called supersymmetry in condensed matter systems.

Adrian Krainer

Wolf Prize Laureate in Medicine 2021

Professor Adrian Krainer

Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory

The 2021 Wolf prize in Medicine is awarded to Joan Steitz, Lynne Maquat and Adrian Krainer for fundamental discoveries in RNA biology that have the potential to better human lives. They have made ground-breaking discoveries in RNA regulatory mechanisms demonstrating that RNA is not a passive template between DNA and protein, but rather plays a dominant role in regulating and diversifying gene expression.

Adrian Krainer is awarded the 2021 Wolf Prize for his fundamental mechanistic discoveries on RNA splicing leading to a world’s first treatment for spinal muscular atrophy (SMA).

Krainer’s research focuses on how splicing normally works, how it is altered in genetic diseases and cancer, and how we can correct these defects for therapy. Krainer and his team focused on finding a way to treat SMA, a neuromuscular disease that is the leading genetic cause of death in infants, by RNA therapy.

Adrian Krainer is awarded the Wolf Prize for his major contributions have advanced our understanding of the molecular mechanisms and regulation of RNA splicing.  He identified and purified the first human protein splicing factor and demonstrated its roles in constitutive and alternative splicing.  Krainer used this knowledge to study two genes, SMN1 and SMN2, associated with spinal muscular atrophy. Krainer devised an ingenious strategy to rescue the protein deficit caused by SMN1 mutations by promoting the appropriate splicing of the sister gene SMN2. This treatment received accelerated approval for use in humans and has dramatically improved the lives of thousands of children born with SMA.

Lynne Elizabeth Maquat

Wolf Prize Laureate in Medicine 2021

The 2021 wolf prize in Medicine is awarded to:

Lynne Elizabeth MaquatLynne E. Maquat, Professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at the University of Rochester

Professor Lynne Elizabeth Maquat

University of Rochester

The 2021 Wolf prize in Medicine is awarded to Joan Steitz, Lynne Maquat and Adrian Krainer for fundamental discoveries in RNA biology that have the potential to better human lives. They have made ground-breaking discoveries in RNA regulatory mechanisms demonstrating that RNA is not a passive template between DNA and protein, but rather plays a dominant role in regulating and diversifying gene expression.

The 2021 Wolf prize in Medicine is awarded to Lynne Maquat For discovering a mechanism that destroys mutant mRNA in cells – “non-sense mediated mRNA decay (NMD)”.

Messenger RNA (mRNA) takes genetic instructions from DNA and uses them to create proteins that carry out multiple cellular functions. NMD is a quality control mechanism that removes flawed messenger RNA molecules that, if left intact, would lead to the production of abnormal proteins that could be toxic to cells and initiate disease. Cells also use this pathway (NMD) to better respond to changing environmental conditions. NMD functions in one-third of inherited disorders, such as cystic fibrosis, and in one-third of acquired diseases, including many forms of cancer.  Her work has furthered our understanding of the molecular basis of human disease and provides valuable information to help physicians implement “personalized” or “precision” medicine by treating the disease mutation that is specific to each individual patient.

Joan Steitz

Wolf Prize Laureate in Medicine 2021

The 2021 wolf prize in Medicine is awarded to:

Professor Joan Steitz

Sterling Professor of molecular biophysics and biochemistry at Yale University and Investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute

The 2021 Wolf prize in Medicine is awarded to Joan Steitz, Lynne Maquat and Adrian Krainer for fundamental discoveries in RNA biology that have the potential to better human lives. They have made ground-breaking discoveries in RNA regulatory mechanisms demonstrating that RNA is not a passive template between DNA and protein, but rather plays a dominant role in regulating and diversifying gene expression.

The 2021 Wolf prize in Medicine is awarded to Joan Steitz for ground-breaking discoveries on RNA processing and its function.

Our DNA carries the instructions to manufacture all the proteins needed by a cell. After each gene is copied from DNA into RNA, the RNA message is “spliced” – a process involving precise cutting and pasting. Steitz has studied RNA since the 1960s and was the first to describe the translation initiation sites of prokaryotic RNA in 1969. She turned her attention to eukaryotic cells, focusing on why eukaryotic cells produce an excess of RNA in the nucleus that is not found in cytoplasm in the form of mRNA. Steitz demonstrated that ribosomes use complementary base pairing to start translating mRNA. She discovered snRNPs )small nuclear ribonucleoproteins(- small non-coding RNAs that are crucial for splicing of mRNA. Teaching and mentoring young scientists and advocating for women in science has also been a hallmark of Steitz’s career. Joan Steitz is awarded the Wolf Prize for her many fundamental contributions to the field of RNA biology. In particular, she discovered the critical roles of small non-coding RNAs in the splicing of pre-mRNAs and the biogenesis of ribosomal RNA, and elucidated biochemical mechanisms that regulate RNA stability in eukaryotic cells. Her pioneering discoveries have laid the foundations to much of the subsequent research on RNA splicing.  

Congratulations to Wolf Prize Laureates: Prof. Jennifer Doudna and Prof. Emmanuelle Charpentier for winning the 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry

Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer Doudna, led the discovery of the revolutionary gene-editing tool, CRISPR. They used this existing defense mechanism in bacteria to turn CRISPR-Cas9 into a real tool for cleaving the DNA of bacterial and also human cells. These “genetic scissors” can be used for targeting any gene in a cell in order to modify it. With this revolutionary technology, it is much easier to modify gene expression, to switch a gene “on” or “off,” or to change, repair, or remove genes. This new tool is now used in molecular biology laboratories around the world and has the potential to revolutionize medicine by paving the way to finding new forms of treatment for currently incurable diseases.