Published On: Thu, Jan 22nd, 2015

Tel Aviv University’s Professor Yosef Shiloh Wins First Olav Thorn Prize

Professor Yosef Shiloh

Professor Yosef Shiloh from Tel Aviv University has been awarded the first Olav Thon Prize for natural sciences and medicine. Prof. Shiloh, whose research focuses on genetic predisposition to cancer, will be awarded 2.5 million Norwegian Krones (approximately $330, 000) at a ceremony which will be held in Norway on March 5th, 2015.

Prof. Shiloh holds the David and Inez Myers Chair for Cancer Genetics at Tel Aviv University’s Department of Human Molecular Genetics and Biochemistry at the Sackler Faculty of Medicine. He is also a member of the Israel Academy for Sciences and Humanities.

The Olav Thon Prize was established by Norwegian billionaire and real estate developer Olav Thon, currently the richest man in Norway. A year ago Thon announced that he would donate his entire fortune to charity, focusing in particular on education and the sciences.

“Ever since I was a PhD student, my academic career has been devoted to studying ataxia-telangiectasia, or “A-T, ” said Prof. Shiloh. “It’s a rare, difficult, degenerative disease. People suffer from it all over the world, but there’s a particularly high concentration of cases in Israel, in Jewish and Arab communities. The disease damages the nervous system as well as the immune system and increases the likelihood of cancer due to a problem with DNA-repairing mechanisms. We first discovered the protein responsible for the cancer-inducing process in 1995, at our laboratory at Tel Aviv University.”

“This discovery greatly advanced our understanding of the mechanisms that maintain the stability of our genome, and are driven by premature death of cells in our bodies, or cancer. When this mechanism was damaged severely, caused serious illnesses, such as AT, but light damage than this mechanism driving also morbidity such as neurodegenerative diseases and medical conditions, and of course – cancer. ”

“People get older their unique pace, ” says Professor Shilo. “We all know people in old age are healthy and fresh, and contrast – people who are an elderly age relatively early. One of the reasons genetic for this is that people differ in their ability to maintain the stability of their genomes. The stability of the genome maintain many proteins, each protein is dictated by the gene. Therefore, the information necessary to maintain genomic integrity embodied, in fact, the genome itself. Of course, that damage to the garden charged with maintaining the stability of DNA undermine the person’s ability to maintain its genome. Such a person would be particularly sensitive to the malign influence of environmental factors such as air pollution, carcinogens and radiation. “

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