Previous speakers and artists

April 3-10, 2008

Life and death - Why our proteins have to die so we shall live

Prof. Aaron J. Ciechanover

Nobel Laureate for Chemistry and a Distinguished Research Professor in the Faculty of Medicine of the Technion Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa

Keynote Speaker

Prof. Aaron J. Ciechanover is a 2004 Nobel Laureate for Chemistry and a Distinguished Research Professor in the Faculty of Medicine of the Technion Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa.

Born in
Haifa, Aaron Ciechanover received his Master of Science in 1970 and his M.D. in 1975 from the Hadassah Medical School of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. He received his doctorate in medicine in 1981 from the Technion and has been a Distinguished Research Professor at the Center for Cancer and Vascular Biology and the Director of the Rappaport Family Institute for Research in Medical Sciences at the Technion. In 2004 he shared the Nobel Prize for Chemistry with Professor Avram Hershko and Professor Irwin Rose for the discovery of ubiquitin-mediated protein degradation, a mechanism by which the cells of most living organisms cull unwanted proteins.

Proteins build up all living things: plants, animals and therefore us humans. In the past few decades biochemistry has come a long way towards explaining how the cell produces all its various proteins. But as to the breaking down of proteins, not so many researchers were interested. Aaron Ciechanover, Avram Hershko and Irwin Rose went against the stream and at the beginning of the 1980s discovered one of the cell's most important cyclical processes, regulated protein degradation. For this they were rewarded with the Nobel Prize for Chemistry.

Aaron Ciechanover, Avram Hershko and Irwin Rose have brought us to realize that the cell functions as a highly-efficient checking station where proteins are built up and broken down at a furious rate. The degradation is not indiscriminate, but takes place through a process that is controlled in detail so that the proteins to be broken down at any moment are given a molecular label, a ‘kiss of death', to be dramatic. The labeled proteins are then fed into the cells' "waste disposers", the so called proteasomes, where they are chopped into small pieces and destroyed.

The label consists of a molecule called ubiquitin. This fastens to the protein to be destroyed, accompanies it to the proteasome where it is recognized as the key in a lock and signals that a protein is on the way for disassembly. Shortly before the protein is squeezed into the proteasome, its ubiquitin label is disconnected for re-use.

Thanks to the work of the three Laureates it is now possible to understand at a molecular level how the cell controls a number of central processes by breaking down certain proteins and not others. It has become clear that ubiquitin-mediated degradation of proteins is central to the regulation of basic cellular processes including cell cycle, transcriptional regulation, growth and development, differentiation, apoptosis, receptor modulation, DNA repair and the maintenance of the cell’s quality control. With the multiple substrates targeted and processes involved, it is not surprising that the system has been implicated in the pathogenesis of many diseases, a broad array of malignancies and neurodegenerative disorders among them. This led pharma companies to initiate efforts to develop mechanism-based medications, and one successful drug to combat cancer is already on the market, with many more in the pipeline.

Besides being awarded the Nobel Prize Professor Ciechanover shared the prestigious Albert Lasker Award for Basic Medical Research, the second most prestigious prize in life sciences and medicine, and the Israel Prize, the highest recognition bestowed by the State of Israel. Among many esteemed bodies, he is a member of the Israeli National Academy of Sciences and Humanities, the Pontifical Academy of Sciences of the Vatican and the American Philosophical Society.

Thursday, April 3, 2008:
14:00 Keynote speech and dialogue at Ateneo de Manila University in Quezon City
(Information and free tickets: phone (02) 426-6078, 426-6001 loc. 4006, fax (02) 426-6079,

Friday, April 4, 2008:
14:00 Keynote speech and dialogue at Angeles University in Angeles City
(Information and free tickets: phone (045) 888-2725, fax (045) 888-6000, email

Monday, April 7, 2008:
14:00 Keynote speech and dialogue at the University of Santo Tomas in Manila
(Information and free tickets: phone (02) 731-3123, fax (02) 732-7486, email

Tuesday, April 8, 2008:
14:00 Seminar with researchers at the Department of Science and Technology in Manila
(not a public event)

Thusday, April 10, 2008:
14:00 Keynote speech and dialogue at Mahidol University in Bangkok
(Information and free tickets: phone (02) 201-5007/ 5070, fax (02) 201-5072, email