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Distinguished Lecture Series

"The Ubiquitin Proteolytic System: From Basic Mechanisms Thru Human Diseases and on to Drug Targeting" presented by Dr. Aaron Ciechanover

"Between the 50s and 80s, most studies in biomedicine focused on the central dogma - the translation of the information coded by DNA to RNA and proteins. Protein degradation was a neglected area, considered to be a non-specific, dead-end process. While it was known that proteins do turn over, the high specificity of the process - where distinct proteins are degraded only at certain time points, or when they are not needed any more, or following denaturation/misfolding when their normal and active counterparts are spared - was not appreciated. The discovery of the lysosome by Christian de Duve did not significantly change this view, as it was clear that this organelle is involved mostly in the degradation of extracellular proteins, and their proteases cannot be substrate-specific. The discovery of the complex cascade of the ubiquitin solved the enigma. It is clear now that degradation of cellular proteins is a highly complex, temporally controlled, and tightly regulated process that plays major roles in a variety of basic cellular processes such as cell cycle and differentiation, communication of the cell with the extracellular environment and maintenance of the cellular quality control. With the multitude of substrates targeted and the myriad processes involved, it is not surprising that aberrations in the pathway have been implicated in the pathogenesis of many diseases, certain malignancies and neurodegeneration among them, and that the system has become a major platform for drug targeting."

The University of Tennessee Health Science Center’s Office of Research is honored to welcome Dr. Aaron Ciechanover to Memphis for the first time. Dr. Ciechanover is an Israeli Biochemist who won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry “for the discovery of the ubiquitin-mediated protein degradation” in 2004. Together with Avram Hershko of the Technion- Israel Institute of Technology and American biologist Irwin Rose, the trio were awarded for characterizing the process in our cells which allows for the degradation and recycling of proteins using ubiquitin. His discoveries have opened up opportunities in drug discovery, and in the diagnostics and treatment for a range of disorders, from cancer to neurodegeneration. 

About Dr. Ciechanover

Aaron Ciechanover was born in Haifa, Israel in 1947. He is currently a Distinguished Research Professor in the Faculty of medicine at the Technion- Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa, Israel. He received his MSc (1971) and MD (1974) from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. He then completed his national service (1973-1976) as military physician, and continued his studies to obtain a doctorate in biological sciences in the Faculty of Medicine in the Technion (DSc; 1981). There, as a graduate student with Dr. Avram Hershko and in collaboration with Dr. Irwin A. Rose from the Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia, USA, they discovered that covalent attachment of ubiquitin to a target protein signals it for degradation. They deciphered the mechanism of conjugation, described the general proteolytic functions of the system, and proposed a model according to which this modification serves as a recognition signal for a specific downstream protease. As a post-doctoral fellow with Dr. Harvey Lodish at the MIT, he continued his studies on the ubiquitin system and made additional important discoveries. 

Along the years it has become clear that ubiquitin-mediated proteolysis plays major roles in numerous cellular processes, and aberrations in the system underlie the pathogenetic mechanisms of many diseases, among them certain malignancies and neurodegenerative disorders. Consequently, the system has become an important platform for drug development. Among the numerous prizes Ciechanover received are the 2000 Albert Lasker Award, the 2003 Israel Prize, and the 2004 Nobel Prize (Chemistry; shared with Drs. Hershko and Rose). Among many academies, Ciechanover is member of the Israeli National Academy of Sciences and Humanities, The European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO), the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (Foreign Fellow), the American Philosophical Society, the National Academies of Sciences (NAS) and Medicine (NAM) of the USA (Foreign Associate), the Pontifical Academy of Sciences at the Vatican, the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS; Foreign Member), the Russian Academy of Sciences (Foreign Member), and the German Academy of Sciences (Leopoldina).


Date: Tuesday, January 16, 2018
Time: 12 to 1 pm
Location: College of Pharmacy Building, Room 101 (881 Madison Avenue)*
*Alternative Locations: College of Pharmacy Building, Rooms 102, 118/119, and the Freeman Auditorium (930 Madison Avenue, 3rd Floor)

Light refreshments will be served

Parking Information: Attendees may park in the Memphis Bioworks Foundation Parking garage located at the corner of Dudley Street and Union Avenue during Dr. Ciechanover's talk. The parking garage entrance is off of Dudley Street directly across from TriMetis. Please enter via the "Permit" or "Reserved Parking" driveways. You may park anywhere in the garage. Once parked, please exit the garage walking North toward Madison Avenue and follow the signage to the College of Pharmacy Building or the Freeman Auditorium.

Please see the directional map for reference.

Security Information: Please note, there will be detailed security checkpoints before entering the lecture halls. Attendees should plan to arrive early and have with them a university-issued, employer-issued, and/or hospital-issued ID badge in order to enter the lecture halls. If an attendee would like to attend Dr. Ciechanover's lecture but they do not have one of the aforementioned IDs, they will need to contact Sarah Fenderson directly via e-mail or phone (901-448-2494) by Jan. 15, 2018 to receive guest access.

Last Published: Jan 11, 2018