The general assembly of the Israel Academy of Sciences and the Humanities has elected Prof. Ruth Arnon, who is currently the academy's vice president, as the organization's next president. She will assume the top post in September, replacing Prof. Menahem Yaari, who has served two terms as president over the past six years.
Arnon will be the first woman to head the academy, whose membership is limited to 100 of Israel's leading experts, 55 from the natural sciences and 45 from humanities and social sciences.
The academy is involved in promoting scholarly activity in Israel and in advising the government on issues related to scientific research and planning. Arnon, who was born in 1933, told Haaretz yesterday that she intends to strengthen the ties between the academy and its counterpart organizations around the world.
Arnon is an immunologist with a worldwide reputation. Before becoming vice president of the academy, she headed the department of chemical immunology at the Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, and was dean of the biology department. She is an adviser to President Shimon Peres on scientific matters.
Her scientific research has focused on the development of advanced vaccines, cancer research and parasitic diseases. She and a colleague developed Copaxone, a drug prescribed for the treatment of multiple sclerosis.
She is a recipient of the Israel Prize and a member of the French Legion of Honor.
Arnon will be succeeded as vice president of the academy by Benjamin Z. Kedar of the history department of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, a leading expert on the Crusades and chairman of the Israel Antiquities Authority.
He is founding editor of the journal "Crusades" and a member of the editorial board of Cambridge History of the World.
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