Ben-Gurion University to Honour Nobel Laureates, a Biomathematician, a Former Australian Prime Minister and Magnanimous Supporters

Ben-Gurion University of the Negev will pay tribute to seven noted individuals by conferring upon them honorary doctorates on Tuesday evening, May 16, 2017, at 7:30 p.m. in the Joya Claire Sonnenfeldt Auditorium on the Marcus Family Campus in Beer-Sheva.

BGU will honor two Nobel Laureates, a famed biomathematician, a former Australian Prime Minister, and three magnanimous supporters. They include:

Prof. Linda B. Buck, USA

Winner of the 2004 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine (together with Richard Axel) for " their discoveries of odorant receptors and the organisation of the olfactory system." They discovered how hundreds of genes in our DNA code form the odorant sensors located in the olfactory sensory neurons in our noses. Each receptor is a protein that changes when an odorant attaches itself to the receptor. Smells are composed of a large number of different substances and we interpret the varying signals from our receptors as specific scents.



Hon. Julia Gillard, Australia

Was the first woman prime minister of Australia. Julia Gillard was sworn in as the 27th Prime Minister of Australia on June 24, 2010 and served in that office until June 2013. As Prime Minister and in her previous role as Deputy Prime Minister, Ms. Gillard was central to the successful management of Australia’s economy, the 12th largest economy in the world, during the Global Financial Crisis and as Australia positioned itself to seize the benefits of Asia’s rise. Ms. Gillard developed Australia’s guiding policy paper, Australia in the Asian Century, and delivered nation-changing policies, including reforming Australia's education at every level from early childhood to university education, creating an emissions trading scheme, improving the provision and sustainability of healthcare, aged care and dental care, commencing the nation’s first ever national scheme to care for people with disabilities and restructuring the telecommunications sector, as well as advancing a national broadband network.



Prof. Eric S. Lander, USA

Is the founding Director and President of The Eli and Edythe L. Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard and served as an advisor to US President Barack Obama. A geneticist, molecular biologist, and mathematician, Lander has played a pioneering role in all aspects of the reading, understanding, and biomedical application of the human genome. He was one of the principal leaders of the international Human Genome Project (HGP) from 1990 to 2003, with his Center being the largest contributor to the mapping and sequencing of the human blueprint. With his colleagues, Lander has developed and applied methods for discovering the molecular basis of rare genetic diseases, common diseases, and cancer. He has done pioneering work on genetic variation, population history, evolutionary forces, regulatory elements, long non-coding RNAs, three-dimensional folding of the human genome, and methods to systematically identify the genes essential for biological processes.  



Ellen S. Marcus, USA

Among the first to earn a master’s degree in genetic counseling and accreditation by the American Board of Genetic Counselors, Ellen practiced genetic counseling in Boston and Houston from 1973 to 1988. Specialising in prenatal diagnosis, she became the first genetic counselor in the country to open a private practice. While marketing her practice, she was approached by several individuals and institutions to help them with their communications needs. After some time practicing both genetic counseling and marketing communications, Ellen ventured full-time into the latter field. She spent about 15 years as a marketing communications professional in the healthcare, financial and petroleum-exploration software industries. Ellen became passionately devoted to BGU after her parents made a major bequest to the University, serving on BGU’s Board of Governors since 2006. She was appointed a Vice Chairperson in 2012. She also serves as the Austin chapter Chair of AABGU’s Greater Texas Region. 



Prof. Stanley B. Prusiner, USA

Won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1997 for his discovery of "prions" – a new biological principle of infection. Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease and related illnesses affecting people and animals involve the degeneration of brain cells. He was able to isolate a suspected infectious agent, a protein that he called a "prion." He identified the gene behind the prion protein, but determined that it is also present in healthy people and animals. Prusiner showed that the prion molecules are folded in a different way than the normal proteins and that the folding of the "prion" can be transferred to normal proteins, constituting the basis for the illness. 



Carole and Marcus Weinstein, USA

Marcus Weinstein is the Chairman of Weinstein Properties, a real estate development firm headquartered in Richmond, Virginia. Established in 1975, today Weinstein Properties owns and manages 16,000 apartments in Virginia, North Carolina and Texas. A former English professor, Carole Weinstein is Vice Chairman of Weinstein Management. Carole received her undergraduate degree, a master's of English, and an honorary doctor of letters from the University of Richmond. Marcus and his wife, Carole, first visited Ben-Gurion University in November 2012, and have since made an indelible mark on the University. The new Carole and Marcus Weinstein Software and Information Systems Engineering and Cyber Security Building houses laboratories, classrooms, auditoriums, and offices, accommodating the various needs of information systems engineering and cyber security training and research. The building is being inaugurated as part of BGU’s 47th Annual Board of Governors Meeting to be held next week.