Avram Hershko, M.D., Ph.D., Distinguished Professor at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, and Adjunct Professor of Pathology at NYU School of Medicine, has been awarded the 2004 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

Dr. Hershko shares the Nobel Prize with two collaborators for discovering and elucidating in the 1980’s the process of ubiquitin-mediated protein degradation in eukaryotic cells. The researchers discovered that a protein called ubiquitin marks other proteins for destruction by the cell after these proteins have outlived their usefulness. In its citation, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences noted that this system “governs such processes as cell division, DNA repair, quality control of newly produced proteins, and important parts of the immune defense.” When such degradation is impaired, the result can be a variety of diseases, such as cervical cancer, cystic fibrosis, and Alzheimer’s disease. Research in this area could potentially lead to new drugs to treat these diseases.

Since 1998, Dr. Hershko has collaborated with Michele Pagano, M.D., Associate Professor of Pathology at NYU School of Medicine, spending several months a year doing research in Dr. Pagano’s laboratory. Together, they have produced ten research papers that build upon Dr. Hershko’s Prize-winning work, including several seminal studies on how the ubiquitin system regulates proteins involved in the development of certain cancers. As part of their continuing collaboration, Dr. Hershko intends to expand his involvement with both students and post-doctoral fellows at the School of Medicine.

“On behalf of the entire Medical Center community, I wish to congratulate Dr. Hershko on this extraordinary honor,” said Robert M. Glickman, M.D., Dean of NYU School of Medicine. “We are proud to have him as one of our colleagues.”

More information on the 2004 Nobel Prize in Chemistry can be found at http://nobelprize.org/chemistry/laureates/2004/press.html.

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