In Yonath's Wake, Another Israeli Scientist Is Honored

A day after Ada Yonath accepted the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in Stockholm, a young Israeli researcher was himself honored for scientific achievement in the Swedish capital.

On Friday, Tommy Kaplan received the 2009 GE & Science Prize for Young Life Scientists for his essay "From DNA Sequence to Chromatin Dynamics: Computational Analysis of Transcriptional Regulation," based on doctoral work he completed last year at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. The 34-year-old is currently conducting post-doctoral work at the University of California, Berkeley.

Kaplan shared the prize, granted jointly by the academic journal Science and the General Electric technology conglomerate, with three young researchers from the United States, Germany and Japan. Kaplan will receive $5,000 for his achievement, and his essay will appear in a forthcoming issue of Science.

"It's a great honor for me to receive this prize. I hope this will help me put together a research team, enlist promising students and inspiring colleagues, and of course, find funding," Kaplan told Haaretz yesterday. "I intend to return to Israel within the next two years, after my wife and I complete our post-doctoral work."

Kaplan's research employed advanced technology and complex mathematical models in order to better understand the mechanisms by which proteins are created in living cells.

Prof. Nir Friedman, Kaplan's doctoral supervisor along with Prof. Hanah Margalit, told Haaretz: "If we take a human cell, it includes coded information on how to build, for example, a nerve or liver cell - two very different cells which produce entirely different proteins. In order for a liver cell not to produce the proteins of a brain cell, there are supervision mechanisms. We are trying to understand how those mechanisms work, that is, how the timing of a certain protein production is determined," he said.

Following Friday's award ceremony at Stockholm's luxurious Grand Hotel, the four recipients met yesterday with the recently-awarded laureates of the Nobel Prize in Medicine.