Ecuador’s National Congress honors Israeli Nobel laureate

JTA

RIO DE JANEIRO (JTA) — Ecuador’s National Congress honored an Israeli Nobel laureate.

Ada Yonath, Israeli Nobel prize winner in chemistry, received a medal of scientific merit from the National Assembly’s president, Elizabeth Cabezas, during ceremony on Thursday in Quito, newspaper El Telegrafo reported.

“The National Assembly of Ecuador highlights the role of an Israeli expert who participates in the specialized international meeting promoting cooperation and support links to disseminate their vital research, and strengthen inter-exchange opportunities between Israel and Ecuador,” read a statement about the event.

In 2009, Yonath received the Nobel Prize in chemistry for her studies on the structure and function of the ribosome, becoming the first Israeli woman to win the Nobel Prize out of ten Israeli Nobel laureates, the first woman from the Middle East to win a Nobel prize in the sciences, and the first woman in 45 years to win the Nobel Prize for chemistry.

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Several officials and scholars attended the event, including Israel’s ambassador Edwin Yabo and Israel’s consul Amir Sagron.

“We had the absolute pleasure hosting Professor Ada Yonath, Israeli chemist and Nobel Prize laureate (2009). Professor Yonath was honored to receive the Medal of the National Assembly from its President @ElizCabezas,” Sagron tweeted in the Israeli mission’s official channel.

During the ceremony, Yonath recalled the work developed since she was a young scientist and what it meant for her to understand that the genetic code is interconnected in every living being. She stressed that it took her 20 years to discover how antibiotics worked in humans, a fundamental issue for medicine.

The Israeli scientist attended the first International Congress of Chemistry held in the South American country, hosted by the Higher Polytechnic School of Chimborazo, in the city of Riobamba.

Yonath, 78, was born in Jerusalem to Polish parents. She studied chemistry at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and earned her PhD from the Weizmann Institute of Science, to which she has maintained her ties as a researcher. Alongside her work in Israel, Yonath also has worked for several European and U.S. universities.

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