UCI Professor Wins 2004 Nobel Prize in Chemistry

Irwin Rose
Irwin Rose

October 7, 2004 -- Irwin Rose, a researcher in the UC Irvine College of Medicine, has been named a recipient of the 2004 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

Rose, 78, shares the prize with Aaron Ciechanover and Avram Hershko of the Israel Institute of Technology for their discovery of the major pathway through which cellular building blocks called ubiquitin proteins are regulated by degradation. Cancer and some neurodegenerative diseases are thought to be related to disruptions in this pathway.

From the work of Rose, Ciechanover and Hershko, it is now possible to understand at the molecular level how modification by attachment of ubiquitin results in breakdown of unwanted proteins inside cells. In addition, it is now known that other modifiers, similar to ubiquitin, are used by the cell to regulate proteins in many ways. These findings are playing a key role in the development of drugs to fight illnesses such as cancer and cystic fibrosis.

"The basic science faculty at the College of Medicine and our clinical faculty at UCI Medical Center are delighted and pleased that Dr. Rose has been recognized for his significant contribution to our understanding of ubiquitin, and its potential role in the treatment of disease," said College of Medicine Dean Thomas Cesario.

Rose came to UCI in 1997 from the Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia. He is a member of the Department of Physiology and Biophysics. The Brooklyn-born Rose received his doctorate in biochemistry in 1952 from the University of Chicago.

"The breakthrough work of Professor Rose will help us create medicines and therapies enabling people to live longer and live better," said UC President Robert C. Dynes. "It illustrates how the discoveries from our research universities such as UC make a real-world difference and contribute to enhancing our health and to our quality of life."

Rose, a member of the National Academy of Sciences, currently lives in Laguna Woods. He is the third UCI researcher to earn this honor. In 1995, Nobel Prizes were awarded to F. Sherwood Rowland in chemistry and Frederick Reines in physics.

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Tom Vasich, Assistant Director UCI Health Sciences Media Relations, (949) 824-6455