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Wolf Prizes for 2016 Announced

Wolf Prizes for 2016 Announced

K.C. Nicolaou, who won a share of the 2016 Wolf Prize in chemistry for his work in synthesising complex organic molecules. Source:

The 2016 Wolf Prizes were announced on January 13. Named after Ricardo Wolf, a former Cuban ambassador to Israel, the prizes are awarded in five categories every year by the Wolf Foundation. They are considered very prestigious, with each category of recipients receiving a $100,000 purse as well.

This year’s winners:

  1. Chemistry: Kyriacos Nicolaou & Stuart Schreiber – Nicolaou for pioneering the synthesis of complex organic molecules found in nature; Schreiber for his work in chemical biology and the use of small molecules as medicinal probes; previous winners include Ada Yonath, who became the first woman to win the chemistry Nobel in 45 years in 2009
  2. Physics: Yoseph Imry – for being one of the founders of mesoscopic physics, the study of objects larger than atoms but smaller than macroscopic objects and which can be handled using classical mechanics but also show quantum mechanical properties; previous winners include Freeman Dyson (1981) and Stephen Hawking (1988)
  3. Medicine: C. Ronald Kahn & Lewis C. Cantley – Kahn for discoveries in the insulin signalling network in people with diabetes and/or obesity; Cantley for finding a direct link between metabolic regulation and the growth of cancer, and discoveries surrounding the link; previous winners include Shinya Yamanaka and Rudolf Jaenisch for establishing the therapeutic potential of induced pluripotent stem cells (2011)
  4. Agriculture: Trudy Mackay – for her study of the interactions between “genes, traits and environmental effects”; Mackay is otherwise also known for establishing the Drosophila Genetic Reference Panel, which provides a common set of genomic lines (of fruit flies) for scientists to use for research; previous winners include Gurdev Khush for elucidating the genetics of breeding rice toward alleviating hunger (2000)
  5. Arts: Phyllis Lambert (architect) – for her efforts to preserve Montreal’s heritage; previous winners include Zubin Mehta for music (1995)

In eminence, the physics and chemistry prizes are considered second only to their Nobel counterparts, while the medicine prize comes third after the Nobel and the Lasker. In fact, the physics winners are noted for being possible future Nobel Laureates. Between 1978, when the prize was first awarded, and 2010, 14 of 26 of them have gone on to secure a Nobel Prize as well.

No mathematics prize has been announced for this year.

Featured image: K.C. Nicolaou. Source:

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