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Aaron Ciechanover, winner of the 2004 Nobel Prize in chemistry, to speak at Upstate April 16

Nobel Laureate Aaron Ciechanover, M.D., D.Sc., whose scientific discovery of ubiquitin-mediated protein degradation revolutionized today’s approach to treating cancer and created new pathways to develop more effective therapies for neurodegenerative disorders and other genetic diseases, will visit the Upstate Medical University campus to deliver a free public lecture Monday, April 16 at 4 p.m. in the Ninth Floor Auditorium at Weiskotten Hall.

Ciechanover (pronounced CHEH-kuh-noh-ver) will discuss new therapies that have resulted from his work. He is Distinguished Professor of the Cancer and Vascular Biology Research Center at the Technion, Israel Institute of Technology. In addition to the 2004 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, which he shared with Avram Hershko, M.D., Ph.D., and Irwin Rose, Ph.D., he is the recipient of the Albert Lasker Award, the Israel Prize, and the Humboldt Research Award.

“We are honored to host Dr. Ciechanover’s visit and to offer our faculty, students and the public insight into how his science has translated into medical therapies and has advanced knowledge into cellular systems within the human body,” said Steven Goodman, Ph.D., dean of Upstate’s College of Graduate Studies and vice president for research. “At a time when most research focused on how cells produce various proteins, which are essential for maintaining the body’s health and wellness, Ciechanover and his colleagues investigated how these proteins are destroyed and disposed of once they have served their purpose. Dysfunction of this process can lead to a wide array of diseases, ranging from cancer to neurodegenerative disorders to other genetic diseases.”

Their investigation led to the discovery of the ubiquitin mediated protein degradation. The system is highly intricate, rapidly performed in the body, and necessary to maintain health and wellness. Simply said, once the protein has performed its task, multiple linked ubiquitin molecules fasten themselves to the protein and direct it to the proteasome, a protein degradation system within the cell. Once the protein is destroyed, the ubiquitin tag is disconnected for re-use.

Their discovery of the ubiquitin-proteasome system led to the creation of the cancer drug Velcade and other drugs that are capable of targeting only sick cells within the body. Their findings also led to a greater understanding of how the cell controls a number of central processes by breaking down certain proteins and not others. Examples of processes governed by ubiquitin mediated protein degradation are cell division, DNA repair, quality control of newly produced proteins, and important parts of the immune defense.

While on the Upstate campus, Ciechanover will meet with Upstate faculty and students and with community leaders.

Upstate’s Office of Research Administration sponsors Ciechanover’s visit. For more information about the lecture, call 464-4515.