Prof. Aaron Ciechanover is a Distinguished Research Professor at the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa, Israel. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2004 for the discovery (together with Drs. Hershko and Rose), of ubiquitin-mediated protein degradation, which has a critical role in maintaining the homeostasis of cells. He received his M.Sc. (1971) and M.D. (1973) degrees from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. He then completed his national service (1973-1976) as a military physician, and continued his studies to obtain a doctorate in biological sciences from the Faculty of Medicine at the Technion (D.Sc. 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, 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 MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), Prof. Ciechanover 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. Consquently, the system has become an important platform for drug development. Besides the Nobel Prize, Prof. Ciechanover received also the 2000 Albert Lasker Award, the 2003 Israel Prize, and numerous other awards and honors. Among many academies, Ciechanover is a member of 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 US National Academy of Sciences (Foreign Associate), and the Institute of Medicine of the US National Academies (Foreign Associate).