The Ubiquitin Proteolytic System: From Basic Mechanisms thru Human Diseases and onto Drug Targeting

Aaron Ciechanover
Technical lecture
November 4, 2011

About the speaker

Aaron Ciechanover

Professor of Chemistry at the Tumor and Vascular Biology Research Center at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Israel.
Nobel Prize in Chemistry (2004)

Bio

Born in Haifa, Israel in 1947. Dr. Ciechanover is a Distinguished Research Professor in the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa. He received his M.Sc. in 1971, M.D. in 1973 from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, completed his national service 1973-1976 as a military physician, and then continued his studies to obtain a doctorate in biological sciences in the Faculty of Medicine in the Technion 1982.

There, as a graduate student with Dr. Avram Hershko and in collaboration with Dr. Irwin A. Rose from the Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia, USA, they discovered that covalent attachment of ubiquitin to a target protein signals it for degradation. The group deciphered the mechanism of conjugation, described the general proteolytic functions of the system, and proposed a model according to which this modification serves as a recognition signal for a specific downstream protease. As a postdoctoral fellow with Dr. Harvey Lodish at the M.I.T., he continued his studies on the ubiquitin system and made additional important discoveries. It is now clear that ubiquitin-medicated proteolysis plays major roles in numerous cellular processes, and that aberrations in the system underlie the pathogenetic mechanisms of many diseases, among them certain malignancies and neurodegenerative disorders. Consequently, the system has become an important platform for drug development.

Among his numerous prizes, Ciechanover received are the 2000 Albert Lasker Award, the 2003 Israel Prize, and the 2004 Nobel Prize (Chemistry; shared with Drs. Hershko and Rose). He is a member of many academies including the Israeli National Academy of Sciences and Humanities, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (Foreign Fellow), the American Philosophical Society, the Pontifical Academy of Sciences of the Vatican, the National Academy of Sciences of the USA (Foreign Associate), and the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies of the USA (Foreign Associate).