Prof. (Emeritus) Eviatar Nevo from the Institute of Evolution is the 2016 winner of the Israel Prize for Life Sciences will receive his award on the Israeli Independence Day this year. Prof. Nevo, one of the leading scientists in the modern evolutionary biology, was chosen for this prestigious Prize for bringing a greater breadth and depth to the understanding of biological species and their adaptation to changing environmental conditions, as well as for his groundbreaking research that has opened up new and exciting directions, which could lead to breakthroughs in human diseases including cancer.
"Dear Prof. Nevo, this great distinction is yours alone, but I must admit that it fills all of us here at the University with pride and honor," said Amos Shapira, President of the University, in congratulating Prof. Nevo.
Prof. Nevo, a member of the Faculty of Natural Sciences at the Department of Evolutionary and Environmental Biology, joined the University in 1972, founded the Institute of Evolution and the International Centre for Advanced (doctoral) Studies in Evolution - a unique center in the world. Prof. Nevo has published over 1,000 peer-reviewed articles and more than 20 books on a wide variety of topics in the biology and evolution of many species, including bacteria, fungi, plants, animals and humans. His studies have included various state-of-the-art modern high-throughput technologies in genomics, proteomics and transcriptomics.
Over the years, Prof. Nevo, in collaboration with his colleagues, studied hundreds of species, and the "Evolution Canyon" scientific model which he established in a number of locations in Israel, has become a classic model for studying evolutionary origin of species in contrasting climates. Prof. Nevo participated in the discovery of 77 species of fungi in the Dead Sea, as well as in sequencing the complete genome of some of them, and in identification of genes responsible for the survival of fungi in saline environment, a discovery that could contribute to world food security.
Other v rationales for the win cited by the Israel Prize committee included: Nevo's studies of blind mole rats as a unique evolutionary model that provides an understanding of the resilience of the mole rat to oxygen-poor environment which could lead to breakthroughs in cancer research; studies of wild cereals including wild wheat and wild barley– which will contribute to improvement of cultivating cereals that are the main component of the human diet; and the establishment of one of the largest gene banks of wild cereals at Institute of Evolution at the University of Haifa.