Prof. Aaron Ciechanover
Nobel Laureate for Chemistry at the Department of Biochemistry of the Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa/Israel, January 2024
Professor Aaron J. Ciechanover is a2004 Nobel Laureate for Chemistry, a Distinguished Research Professor in the Faculty of Medicine of the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa, Israel, and among many esteemed bodies, a Member of the Advisory Board of the International Peace Foundation.
Born in Haifa, Israel, Aaron Ciechanover received his Master of Science in 1970 and his M.D. in 1975 from the Hadassah Medical School of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. He then received his doctorate biology (Ph.D.) in 1981 from the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology. Following a post-doctoral fellowship at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T.) in Cambridge, MA, USA, he has returned to the Technion and is currently a Distinguished Research Professor and Director of Technion’s Integrated Cancer Center. In 2004 he shared the Nobel Prize for Chemistry with Professor Avram Hershko and Professor Irwin Rose for the discovery of ubiquitin-mediated protein degradation, a mechanism by which the cells of living organisms remove unwanted proteins.
Proteins build up all living organisms: plants, animals, and of course, us – human beings. In the past few decades, biology has come a long way towards explaining how the cell produces all its various proteins. But as to the breaking down of proteins, only a handful of researchers were interested. Aaron Ciechanover, Avram Hershko and Irwin Rose went against the stream and at the beginning of the 1980s discovered one of the cell’s most important cyclical processes, regulated protein degradation. For their discovery they were awarded the 2004 Nobel Prize for Chemistry.
The three scientists have brought us to realize that the cell functions as a highly-efficient checking station where proteins are built up and broken down at a rapid pace. The degradation is not indiscriminate, but takes place through a process that is controlled in detail, so that the proteins to be broken down at any moment are given a molecular label, a ‘kiss of death’, to be dramatic. The labeledproteins are then fed into the cells’ “waste disposers”, the so called proteasomes, where they are chopped into small pieces and destroyed.
The label consists of a molecule called ubiquitin. This fastens to the protein to be destroyed, accompanies it to the proteasome where it is recognized as the key in a lock, and signals that a protein is on the way for disassembly. Shortly before the protein is squeezed into the proteasome, its ubiquitin label is disconnected for re-use.
Thanks to the work of the three Laureates it is now possible to understand at a molecular level how the cell controls a number of central processes by breaking down certain proteins and not others. It has become clear that ubiquitin-mediated degradation of proteins is central to the regulation of basic cellular processes including cell cycle, transcriptional regulation, growth and development, differentiation, apoptosis, receptor modulation, DNA repair and the maintenance of the cell’s quality control. With the multiple substrates targeted and processes involved, it is not surprising that the system has been implicated in the pathogenesis of many diseases, a broad array of malignancies and neurodegenerative disorders among them. This led pharma companies to initiate efforts to develop mechanism-based medications, and several successful drugs to combat cancer are already on the market, with many more in the pipeline.
Besides being awarded the Nobel Prize, Professor Ciechanover shared the prestigious Albert Lasker Award for Basic Medical Research (2000), the second most prestigious prize in life sciences and medicine, and the Israel Prize, the highest recognition bestowed by the State of Israel. Among many esteemed bodies, he is a member of the Israeli National Academy of Sciences and Humanities, the Pontifical Academy of Sciences of the Vatican, the American Philosophical Society, and the National Academies of Sciences (NAS) and Medicine (NAM) of the USA (foreign member in both).
Topics of keynote speeches:
- Personalized medicine revolution: Are we going to cure all diseases and at what price?
- Science and technology as a novel language of peace – the journey to new drug development in our time
Saturday, January 27, 2024:
14:00 Public keynote speech and dialogue at Nagoya University in Nagoya
– Further information and free seat reservation: phone 052-789-2110, email firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com (www.en.nagoya-u.ac.jp)
Monday, January 29, 2024:
Wednesday, January 31, 2024:
14:00 Public keynote speech and dialogue at Prince of Songkla University in Songkla
– Further information and free seat reservation: phone 074-446-824, email firstname.lastname@example.org (www.psu.ac.th)