2015 Laureates of Emet Prize
In Category: Life Sciences
In Field: Agriculture
Prof. Moshe Sollerwas born in New York in 1931. At the age of 20, he received his B.Sc. in Agriculture, and in 1956 he received his M.Sc. in Applied Statistics and his Ph.D. in Animal Breeding Science, all from Rutgers University. In 1957 he immigrated to Israel and received positions of senior scientist in Animal Science at the Volcani Institute and senior lecturer at the Department of Biology at Bar Ilan University. He subsequently pursued further studies in biochemistry in the U.S., returning in 1972 to Israel where he received a position in the Department of Genetics at the Hebrew University.
Through his research he developed and disseminated a new and innovative method for assessing an individual's breeding value based on its DNA sequence instead of measuring phenotypic values of the animal itself or of its relatives. Using this method, he identified unique DNA sequences, known as genetic markers, which are easily identifiable. These markers are linked to quantitative trait loci (QTL) that are difficult to identify; the markers enabled him to know the future contribution of the QTL to the next generation. For the past 40 years he has led the way to the detailed development of these methods, known as QTL mapping and Marker Assisted Selection, and inspired their application in laboratories and in studies across the world. In his own work he and his students and colleagues applied these methods to mapping QTL in a variety of animal types and agricultural traits, including mapping QTL that affect resistance to trypanosomiasis in cattle – an illness that prevents cattle rearing in widespread areas in Africa. He also used this method to identify QTL that affect quality and quantity of milk from cattle and QTL that impact on resistance of chickens to Marek's disease, which causes a severe repression of the immune system in poultry and heavy losses in poultry farming.
The results of his research have appeared in over 170 publications, and in chapters in numerous books. For his achievements, he received the Moshe Heiman prize for advancement of Israel cattle breeding; was elected as fellow to the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and he received the J.L. Lush award of distinction from the American Dairy Science Association. He also was awarded honorary doctorates from Iowa State University and from the Free University of Liege. In 2012, he was elected life member in the International Society for Animal Genetics and in the Genetics Society of Israel.