Aaron Ciechanover

Professor Aaron Ciechanover, 2004 Nobel laureate in Chemistry for “the discovery of ubiquitin-mediated protein degradation”

Aaron Ciechanover was born in Haifa, Israel, in 1947. He is a Distinguished Research Professor in the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa. He received his M.Sc. (1971) and M.D. (1975) from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and his D.Sc. (1982) from the Technion.

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. They 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 post doctoral fellow with Dr. Harvey Lodish at M.I.T., he continued his studies on the ubiquitin system and made additional important discoveries. Along the years it has become clear that ubiquitin-mediated proteolysis plays major roles in numerous cellular processes, and 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 the 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). Among many academies, Ciechanover is member of the Israeli National Academy of Sciences and Humanities, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (Foreign Fellow), the National Academy of Sciences of the USA (Foreign Associate), and the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies of the USA (Foreign Associate).