Two Hebrew U. IMRIC Scientists To Be Awarded Sir Zelman Cowen Universities Fund Prize For Discovery In Medical Research

Jerusalem, March 31, 2011 - Two scientists at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem are to be awarded the Sir Zelman Cowen Universities Fund Prize for Discovery in Medical Research, it has been announced. Dr. Eli Pikarsky and Prof. Sigal Ben-Yehuda are being recognized for their contributions to the understanding of human disease.

Prof. Ben-Yehuda of the department of microbiology and molecular genetics at the Institute for Medical Research Israel Canada (IMRIC) in the Faculty of Medicine was nominated for her contributions to our understanding of the biology of bacteria. Her discoveries, which include the demonstration of a previously unknown ‘nanotube’ form of communication between cells, are also fundamental for understanding the mechanisms of bacterial resistance to antibiotics. In a statement, the Sir Zelman Cowen Universities Fund said that "this gives her work great importance for the treatment of infections caused by the growing number of resistant bacteria."

Eli PikarskyDr. Pikarsky of the department of immunology and cancer research at the Institute for Medical Research Israel Canada (IMRIC) in the Faculty of Medicine was nominated for insights gained from his work in complex mouse models, into the development of human diseases. According to the Sir Zelman Cowen Universities Fund, "His work has yielded new understanding of the determinants of malignancy in testicular cancer; of the impact of inflammation on the progress of liver cancer and the regulation of liver regeneration, important in all conditions which damage liver function."

This is the first time the award has been shared between two nominees. The prize committee noted the impressive contributions both scientists have made to our understanding of complex and difficult diseases – cancer, and antibiotic-resistant infections. 'Their discoveries are impressive examples of how well-targeted research can tackle serious medical challenges," said Prof. Jonathan Stone, managing trustee of the Fund.

Prize medals, crafted by renowned Melbourne sculptor, Michael Meszaros, and the cash award of $10,000 will be presented to the scientists at a ceremony to be held during the annual meeting of the Hebrew University board of Governors in June 2011.

The Sir Zelman Cowen Universities Fund Prize For Discovery in Medical Research was first awarded in 2006 and recognizes discovery in medical research, by researchers under 45 years of age, which makes a major contribution to the understanding or treatment of disease. The prize is awarded in alternate years at the University of Sydney and at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. It is one of a number of Fund initiatives aiming to support medical research at the University of Sydney and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and to promote cooperative work between the two institutions.

Research Topic

Cancer (Epigenetics)

Cancer doesn’t discriminate; men, women and children are all susceptible to this horrible disease that takes thousands of lives each and every year. At IMRIC, research is being done in conjunction with McGill University in the development of personalized cancer treatment.