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Avram Hershko
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Ferenc Ábrahám Herskó

(1937-12-31) December 31, 1937 (age 85)
Karcag, Hungary
  • Hungary
  • Israel
Alma mater Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Known for Ubiquitin-mediated protein degradation
Judith Leibowitz
(m. 1963)
Children 3
Awards Nobel Prize in Chemistry (2004)
Scientific career
Fields Chemistry
Institutions Technion, Haifa

Avram Hershko (Hebrew: אברהם הרשקו, Hungarian: Herskó Ferenc Ábrahám; born December 31, 1937) is a Hungarian-Israeli biochemist who received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2004.


He was born Herskó Ferenc in Karcag, Hungary, the son of Shoshana/Margit 'Manci' (née Wulc) and Moshe Hershko, both teachers. During the Second World War, his father was forced into labor service in the Hungarian army and then taken as a prisoner by the Soviet Army. For years, Avram's family didn't known anything about what had happened to his father. Avram, his mother and older brother were put in a ghetto in Szolnok. During the final days of the ghetto, most Jews were sent to be murdered in Auschwitz, but Avram and his family managed to board trains that took them to a concentration camp in Austria, where they were forced into labor until the end of the war. Avram and his mother survived the war and returned to their home. His father returned as well, 4 years after they had last seen him.

Hershko and his family emigrated to Israel in 1950 and settled in Jerusalem. He received his M.D. in 1965 and his Ph.D in 1969 from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem-Hadassah Medical Center. He was a postdoctoral scholar at the University of California, San Francisco. He is currently a Distinguished Professor at the Rappaport Faculty of Medicine at the Technion in Haifa and a Distinguished Adjunct Professor at the New York University Grossman School of Medicine.

Along with Aaron Ciechanover and Irwin Rose, he was awarded the 2004 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for the discovery of ubiquitin-mediated protein degradation. The ubiquitin-proteasome system has a critical role in maintaining the homeostasis of cells and is believed to be involved in the development and progression of diseases such as cancer, muscular and neurological diseases, and immune and inflammatory responses.

His contributions to science directly helped cure one of his long-time friends of cancer.

Honours and awards

  • 1987 – Weizmann Prize for Sciences
  • 1994 – Israel Prize in Biochemistry
  • 1999 – Canada Gairdner International Award (with Alexander Varshavsky)
  • 2000 – Albert Lasker Award for Basic Medical Research (with Aaron Ciechanover and Varshavsky)
  • 2000 – Alfred P. Sloan Jr. Prize (with Varshavsky)
  • 2000 – Member, Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities
  • 2001 – Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize from Columbia University (with Varshavsky)
  • 2001 – Massry Prize from the Keck School of Medicine of USC, University of Southern California (with Varshavsky)
  • 2001 – Wolf Prize in Medicine (with Varshavsky) for "the discovery of the ubiquitin system of intracellular protein degradation and the crucial functions of this system in cellular regulation."
  • 2002 – The EMET Prize for Art, Science and Culture in the category of Life Sciences (with Ciechanover and Leo Sachs)
  • 2002 – E.B. Wilson Medal (with Varshavsky)
  • 2003 – Foreign Associate, National Academy of Sciences, USA
  • 2004 – Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his discovery with Ciechanover and Irwin Rose, of ubiquitin-mediated protein degradation
  • 2005 – Elected to the American Philosophical Society

Involvement with biotechnology

Professor Hershko serves on the Scientific Advisory Board of Oramed Pharmaceuticals.

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Avram Hershko para niños

  • List of Israel Prize recipients
  • List of Israeli Nobel laureates
  • List of Jewish Nobel laureates
  • Science and technology in Israel
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