Nobel Laureate urges RP experts abroad to come back

Manila Bulletin, April 7, 2008

Nobel Laureate for Chemistry Prof. Aaron Ciechanover is encouraging Filipino experts abroad to come back to their homeland and share their knowledge with fellow Filipinos to strengthen the country's human resource capabilities, particularly in the sciences.

In a keynote speech and dialogue at the Ateneo de Manila University (A1)MU), Ciechanover, a 2004 Nobel Laureate for Chemistry, said Filipino experts who took further studies abroad should return to their homeland as they can make a huge impact in the country's development.

Ciechanover said he had tempting job offers in the United States, where he took up further training, but opted to go back to his homeland, Israel, to help his fellow citizens develop knowledge and skills, particularly in chemistry and medicine.

He said that he refused job offers abroad as he knew he would be creating a greater impact on the six million population in Israel by sharing his knowledge in his specialized scientific field.

Born in Haifa, Israel, Ciechanover took his graduate studies and medical studies at the Hebrew University School of Medicine in Jerusalem, Israel, and his doctorate in medicine at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology.

He took his post-doctoral training at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States, from 1981 to 1984 and returned to his country, taking a faculty position at the Faculty of Medicine at Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa.

In 2004, Ciechanover won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry with Professors Avram Hershko and Irwin Rose for their discovery of protein degradation through ubiquitin, which leads to life-threatening diseases such as Alzheimer's Disease, Parkinson's Disease, and cancer.

Ubiquitin is described as a "highly conserved small regulatory protein ubiquitously expressed in eukaryotes."

The three researchers discovered that ubiquitin is also responsible for destroying good proteins.

Their study has led to the discovery of an anticancer drug now manufactured by a US pharmaceutical company.

The Department of Science and Technology (DoST), meanwhile, said it is targeting 40 Balik Scientists for this year and more than 100 by 2010.

DoST's Balik Scientist Program seeks to encourage overseas Filipino scientists to return or reside in the country and share their expertise to accelerate the country's scientific, agro-industrial, and economic development. It was established in 1975.

Last year, DoST sponsored 10 Balik Scientists in various scientific fields.

Over 296 Balik Scientists have given lectures and led training programs and seminars here since 1975.