Two Israeli scientists short-listed for Nobel Prize in medicine

Hebrew University biochemists Professor Aharon Razin and Professor Haim Cedar, both past winners of the Israel Prize, are considered favorites to win 2013 Nobel Prize in the fields of medicine or chemistry for their research on the DNA sequence.

Professor Aharon Razin (left) and Professor Haim Cedar | Photo credit: Photo courtesy of Hebrew University

Professor Aharon Razin (left) and Professor Haim Cedar
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Photo credit: Photo courtesy of Hebrew University

World-renowned Hebrew University biochemists Professor Aharon Razin and Professor Haim Cedar are the frontrunners for the 2013 Nobel Prize in the fields of medicine or chemistry.

The two have been named the leading candidates for their research on the DNA sequence. The Nobel Prize winners are officially announced in early October. The winner or winners share a prize totalling about $1.25 million.

Razin and Cedar jointly won the 2008 Wolf Prize for their research. Cedar is the recipient of the 1999 Israel Prize for biology, while Razin was awarded the 2004 Israel Prize for biochemistry.

The research that has garnered Cedar and Razin their Nobel Prize nomination, which they pursued along with Scottish scientist Adrian Bird, studies the changes in the DNA sequence as a result of the methylation process — a chemical reaction in which methyl joins the genetic sequence. This molecular process affects approximately 40,000 genes in the human body.

Cedar, 70, was born and studied in the United States until 1970, when he immigrated to Israel. He studied at the Hebrew University’s School of Medicine and has been a member of the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities since 2003. Cedar has won several awards for his work, including the 2009 Emet Natural Science Prize, the Gardener Prize and the Rothschild Prize and the 2011 Canada Gairdner Award.

He currently serves as a professor of the biochemistry and genetics of the human cell at the Hebrew University and chairs the developmental biology and cancer research department at the Institute for Medical Research, Israel-Canada.

Razin, 78, studied physics and mathematics at the Hebrew University, where he also earned his master’s and Ph.D. degrees in biochemistry. Upon completing his studies, he went on to become a research fellow at the California Institute of Technology. He returned to Israel in 1971, serving as a professor of cellular biochemistry and human genetics at the Hebrew University School of Medicine. In 2001, he shared the Canada Gairdner Award with Cedar for their “pioneering discoveries on DNA methylation and its role in gene expression.”

 

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