Hebrew University of Jerusalem Celebrates Three Israel Prize Recipients Among Its Faculty

Hebrew University of Jerusalem Celebrates Three Israel Prize Recipients Among Its Faculty
2nd April 2024 Moriah Aharon

The Hebrew University of Jerusalem is honoured to announce that three of its esteemed faculty members have been awarded the prestigious Israel Prize for their outstanding professional achievements. These recipients, both past and present faculty members, represent the university’s commitment to excellence in research, education, and innovation.

Professor Asher Cohen, President of the Hebrew University, extends heartfelt congratulations to Prof Gershon Ben-Shakhar for Psychology Research, Prof Ya’acov Ritov for Statistics Research, and Prof Hagai Bergman for Life Sciences Research, on their remarkable contributions to their respective fields. Their dedication and expertise exemplify the university’s enduring legacy of academic excellence and societal impact. Prof Cohen remarked, “This is no less than an amazing achievement, showcasing the high academic calibre of the Hebrew University, which boasts researchers with exceptional abilities across all disciplines.”

Prof Asher Cohen noted: “Winner of the Israel Prize in Psychology, Prof Gershon Ben-Shakhar, hails from the Department of Psychology at the Hebrew University, where he embarked on his academic journey, after completing of his doctorate at the Hebrew University. Proficient in cognitive psychophysiology, his research delved into various aspects, including the examination of physiological and behavioural responses to significant and unexpected stimuli. Of notable significance, Prof Ben-Shakhar’s research played a pivotal role in shaping legal precedence, particularly influencing the Supreme Court’s decision regarding the inadmissibility of polygraph test results in criminal trials. His scholarly contributions extend beyond research, having previously served as the head of the psychology department, dean of the faculty of social sciences, and pro-rector at the Hebrew University. Additionally, he held the prestigious position of president at the Open University. Throughout his illustrious career, Prof Ben-Shakhar authored over 100 articles in esteemed scientific journals, along with numerous books and book chapters on psychophysiology and applied psychology. His exemplary work earned him the esteemed A.M.T. award in 2011, a testament to his dedication and impact in the field of psychology research.”

Recipient of the Israel Prize in Statistics Research, Prof Ya’acov Ritov, distinguished himself as a full professor within the Department of Statistics and Data Science at the Hebrew University, where he earned his doctoral degree. Widely recognized as a leading authority in the field, Prof Ritov has made significant contributions to statistical theory, with a particular focus on high-dimensional models, empiric Bayes methods, and nonparametric and semiparametric models. His ground-breaking work has advanced the understanding of statistical inference in complex models, shaping the foundational principles of modern statistics and data science. Prof Ritov’s insights continue to be instrumental in addressing contemporary challenges in statistical analysis. In recognition of his outstanding contributions, Prof Ritov was honoured with the esteemed Meitner-Humboldt Prize for Research in 2008, a testament to his profound impact and scholarly excellence.

Winner of the Israel Prize in Life Sciences Research Prof Hagai Bergman is a neuroscientist and physician at the Edmond and Lily Safra Center (ELSC) for Brain Research and Faculty of Medicine at the Hebrew University and the neurosurgery department of the Hadassah Medical Center. He became known for his important contribution to the study of Parkinson’s disease and its treatment, using a neurological and psychiatric treatment method based on electrical stimulation and changing the activity of brain areas, also known as ‘deep brain stimulation’. This method is currently the main treatment method for the motor symptoms of advanced Parkinson’s disease and other motor disorders associated with the disease. In recognition of his research on “basal nuclei in Parkinson’s disease”, in the framework of which he reached a better understanding of the brain processes that cause the clinical symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, Prof Bergman was among the first two Israelis to win the Ozpain Prize for Parkinson’s Research. In 2013, Prof Bergman won the Rappaport Award for Excellence in the field of biomedical research and the Rothschild Prize.