(1933 - )
Ruth Arnon is an Israeli biochemist and immunologist.
Arnon (born June 1, 1933) was born in Tel Aviv in Pre-State Israel to parents Sara
and Alexander Rosenberg, who changed their surname to Erez
after 1948. Alexander worked for the Israeli Electric Company as an
electrical engineer and Sara was a teacher.
Arnon became interested in chemistry and specifically
biochemistry in high school, and earned her B.A. and M.Sc. at the Hebrew
University of Jerusalem. She earned her Ph.D. in biochemistry from
the Weizmann Institute in 1960. Arnon served two years in the Israeli Navy as a second lieutenant
from 1955-56, and began her scientific career in chemical immunology
as a Ph.D. student under Ephraim Katzir and Michael Sela at the Weizmann
Institute of Science. During her early research there, she contributed
to the understanding of the chemical basis of antigenicity and the elucidation
of the immunochemistry of enzymes.
Arnon became a full professor in 1975 and continued
research in immunology, focusing on autoimmunity and multiple sclerosis,
as well as on the development of sythetic vaccines. She has held numerous
academic positions at the Weizmann
Institute: head of the Department of Chemical Immunology (1973–74
and 1975–78), director of the MacArthur Center for Parasitology
(1984–94), dean of biology (1985–88), vice president (1988–93),
and vice president for international scientific relations (1995–97)
Arnon's scientific work led to her receipt of several
prizes, including the German Robert Koch Prize in Medical Sciences (1979),
the Spanish Jimenez Diaz Award (1986), the French Legion of Honor (1994),
the Wolf Prize (1988), the Rothschild Prize (1988), and the Israel
Prize (2001). She is an elected member of the European Molecular
Biology Organization (EMBO) and was elected to the Israel Academy of
Sciences and Humanities in 1990. At the academy she served as chairperson
of the Sciences Division (1995–2001) and as vice president from
2004. In the international arena she served as president of the European
Federation of Immunological Societies (EFIS) in 1983–86 and secretary-general
of the International Union of Immunological Societies (IUIS) in 1989–93.
Arnon is currently the Paul Ehrlich Professor of Immunology at the Weizmann
In several recent publications, Arnon’s immunology
lab at the Weizmann Institute has demonstrated that Copaxone, an FDA-approved drug developed in their
laboratory years ago, leads to neuroprotection and neurogeneration in
an animal model. Additionally, the drug prevents demyelination, the
process whereby the myelin sheath of neurons is damaged; demyelinating
diseases include multiple sclerosis, optic neuritis (inflammation of
the optic nerve) and vitamin B12 deficiency. Thus, these findings provide
the basis for Copaxone’s significant therapeutic efficacy in multiple
sclerosis patients as well as those with other demyelinating diseases.
Pursuant to her other research interest in synthetic
vaccines, Arnon is currently involved in research towards the development
of a universal vaccine for influenza.
Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved; “Professor Ruth Arnon,” Weizmann
Institute of Science, Department of Immunology, July 6, 2011.