Prof. Leo Sachs, One of Israel's First Geneticists, Dies at 89

An Israel Prize laureate, Sachs' research formed the basis for today's prenatal diagnosis of human diseases.

Ido Efrati
Ido Efrati
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Ido Efrati
Ido Efrati

Prof. Leo Sachs of the Weizmann Institute of Science and one of Israel's first scientists in the field of genetics, passed away on Thursday at age 89.

Sachs was an internationally renowned scientist in the fields of cancer research and molecular biology. He won the Israel Prize in science in 1972, the Wolf Prize in Medicine in 1980, and the Rothschild Prize in Biological Sciences in 1977.

His research on the use of amniotic fluid to diagnose a fetus' genetic properties in the 1950s at Weizmann has formed the basis for today's prenatal diagnosis of human diseases.

Sachs was born in Leipzig, Germany in 1924. His family left for England in 1933 after the Nazis rose to power. He received his B.A. from the University of Wales in Bangor and in 1951 received his doctorate from Cambridge. In 1952 he immigrated to Israel and joined the faculty at Weizmann. In 1960 he founded the Institute's Department of Genetics, heading it until 1989. From 1974 through 1979 he was also the dean of the Biology Faculty at Weizmann.

He was a member of the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, and of many other professional organizations around the world, including the European Molecular Biology Organization. He was a foreign associate of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, a fellow of the Royal Society in England, and a foreign member of the Academia Europaea, among many other prestigious honors including numerous honorary degrees and visiting professorships.

Prof. Leo Sachs, 1955.Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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