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Aaron Ciechanover, MD, PhD
Professor in the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology; 2000 Albert Lasker Award; 2003 Israel Prize; Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2004 (shared with Dr Irwin Rose and Dr Avram Hershko).
Professor Aaron Ciechanover is a Distinguished Research Professor in the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa. He received his M.Sc. (1971) and M.D. (1973) from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. He did his studies to obtain a doctorate in biological sciences in the Faculty of Medicine in the Technion (D.Sc. 1982).
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 postdoctoral fellow with Dr. Harvey Lodish at the M.I.T., he continued his studies on the ubiquitin system and made additional important discoveries. Throughout 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.
Harald zur Hausen, MD, PhD
Chairman and scientific member of the board of management of the German Cancer Research Centre in Heidelberg (1983-2003); President of the Organization of European Cancer Institutes (1993-1996); Editor-in-chief of the International Journal of Cancer (2000-2009); Board of Directors of the International Union against Cancer (UICC) (2006-2009); Vice-President of the German National Academy for Natural Sciences and Medicine (2003-2009).
Professor Harald Zur Hausen is a German virologist who was a co-recipient, with Françoise Barré-Sinoussi and Luc Montagnier, of the 2008 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine. Zur Hausen was given half the award in recognition of his discovery of the human papilloma virus (HPV) and its link to cervical cancer.
Zur Hausen received an M.D. in 1960 from the University of Düsseldorf, where he was a research fellow from 1962 to 1965; he continued in that capacity at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (1966–69). In the following years, he worked in the virology departments of several German universities. In 1983 he was made scientific director and chairman of the German Cancer Research Center in Heidelberg. Zur Hausen became an emeritus professor there in 2003.
The discovery leading to zur Hausen’s Nobel honor was made in the early 1980s. Though his findings were ill-supported at the time, they were later fully vindicated. His work led to the creation of the HPV vaccine, which significantly cuts the risk of developing cervical cancer, the second most common cancer among women.
Photo credits: TED/ Bret Hartman
Faith Osier, MD, PhD
Group Leader; Biosciences Dept, KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Programme, Kenya; Parasitology Dept, Heidelberg University Hospital; Principal Investigator, SMART (South-South Malaria Antigen Research Partnership).
Faith is a 2018 TED Fellow. She has won multiple international prizes for her research in understanding the mechanisms of immunity against Plasmodium falciparum in man. She aims to translate this knowledge into highly effective vaccines against malaria. She is Visiting Professor of Malaria Immunology in the Nuffield Dept of Medicine, Oxford University, and holds the prestigious Sofja Kovalevskaja Award from the Alexander Humboldt Foundation as well as an EDCTP Senior Fellowship. In 2014, she won the Royal Society Pfizer Prize, UK. She holds major research grants from the Wellcome Trust and is an MRC/DfID African Research Leader.
Faith originally trained as a Paediatrician in Kenya, before specializing in Immunology in Liverpool, and later obtaining a PhD from the Open University, UK. Her interests include vaccine development, with an emphasis on malaria. Her research groups are based at the KEMRI-Wellcome Training Programme in Kilifi, Kenya and at the Heidelberg University Hospital in Heidelberg, Germany. She is passionate about capacity building and the training of African scientists to deliver the interventions needed on the continent.
Peter C. Agre, MD
Professor of Medicine and Biological Chemistry at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine (1992-05); Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2003; Vice Chancellor for Science and Technology at Duke Medical Center (2005-07); President of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (2009-10); Bloomberg Distinguished Professor and Director of JHMRI Johns Hopkins University.
Dr. Peter Agre was a medical student at Johns Hopkins who had a special interest for biomedical research and global health. After having concluded his medical degree and numerous fellowships, he began studying the molecular defects in red blood cell membranes including hereditary spherocytosis. Peter Agre’s group isolated the core subunit of the Rhesus blood group antigen. They also discovered, through multiple international collaborations, the function of the aquaporin-1, the first known membrane water channel, which was worth the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2003 (shared with Roderick MacKinnon).
For the past ten years Peter Agre’s lab has focused upon the role of aquaporins in malaria. He is now Director of the Johns Hopkins Malaria Research Institute and serves as Program Director of the International Center of Excellence for Malaria Research in Zimbabwe and Zambia. He has also been involved in medical education having been Director of the Johns Hopkins Graduate Program in Cellular and Molecular Medicine and Director of the Duke Medical Scientist Training Program.