Born Ada Lifshitz, Ada Yonath is an Israeli Crystallographer.
She is best known for her pioneering work on the structure
of the ribosome. Not only is she one of the most revered global scientific personalities, she has dedicated her life towards the study of the structure of ribosome.

Ada was born in Jerusalem in 1939 to a poor family who
shared a rented four room apartment with two other families. Growing up, Ada has a constant desire to understand the principles of the nature around herself. Ada said that despite the poverty and lack of proper education her family faced, they went out of their way to make sure she received a proper education in a very prestigious secular grammar school. Her father died when she was eleven and her mother could barely cope, leaving young Ada struggling to help provide for her small family. She took on jobs such as babysitting, cleaning, and tutoring younger children.

Elaine2   After she spent her compulsory army service in the Top Secret Office of Medical Forces, she became exposed to clinical and medical issues, eventually leading her to enroll at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. It was there that Yonath got her Bachelor Degree in Chemistry in 1962 and followed by a Master’s degree in Biochemistry in 1964. Finally, in 1968 she earned PhD in X-Ray crystallography from the Weizmann Institute of Science. Yonath accepted postdoctoral positions at Carnegie Mellon University in 1969. Later, she became a post-Doc at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and spent some of her time in the lab of 1976 Chemistry Nobel Prize winner William N. Lipscomb, Jr. It was here she became inspired to pursue very large structures. In 1970, she established (which what was for almost a decade) the only protein crystallography laboratory in Israel.

   In 2009 Ada, along with Thomas A. Seitz and Venkatraman Ramakrishnan received a Nobel Prize for their outstanding work using a method called X-ray crystallology to map the position of each of the thousands of atoms that make up a ribosome. There are DNA molecules in every single cell in every single organism that contain blueprints. These blueprints get transformed into living matter through the amazing work of ribosomes. These ribosomes make proteins, and throughout the body there are thousands of proteins. These hard-working organisms control life at the chemical level.


Understanding the ribosome and its innermost workings is crucial to the medical and science world. It is important for a scientific understanding of life. This type of knowledge is used for the cure of many of today’s diseases by blocking the function of bacterial ribosomes. Without fully- functioning ribosomes bacteria cannot survive. Yonath, Seitz andRamakrishnan have all three created 3D models that show how different atibotics bind to the ribosome. These models are crucial to scientists of modern day and are now used by scientists in order to develop newantibiotics. This is amazing work. Essentially, this new found knowledge is saving lives.  

Elaine3   Other than developing a great deal of important knowledge, some other of Ada’s accomplishments are; receiving a Harvey Prize in 2002, a Wolf Prize in Chemistry in 2006, a L’ OReal UNESCO Award for Women in Science in 2008, an Albert Einstein Award of Science in 2008 and the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2009. This made her 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! Without a doubt, Ada is a huge inspiration for females around the world.