Grants totaling $1.875 million will be awarded to 60 Israeli scientists during the coming year by the Israel Cancer Research Fund (ICRF), a North American organization that underwrites promising cancer research by gifted scientists in this country.
Prof. Avram Hershko and Prof. Aaron Ciechanover of Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, who received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2004, and Prof. Howard Cedar of Hebrew University-Hadassah Medical School, led the list of awardees.
All three, who are also Israel Prize laureates, will receive the highest designation an ICRF professorship and a personal grant of $50,000 annually for seven years.
Hershko and Ciechanover were the first Israelis to receive the Nobel in the sciences. They received the prize for their discovery of the ubiquitin system of regulated protein degradation, a fundamental process that influences vital cellular events and has been implicated in cancer and many other diseases, including Alzheimer's. This discovery led to the development of Velcade, a drug used to treat multiple myeloma, a cancer of the bone marrow. ICRF recognized the potential of this research in 1985 and has been funding it ever since.
The ICRF, founded in 1975, is the largest single source of private funds for cancer research in Israel and is devoted solely to supporting cancer studies by local researchers at leading medical and science institutions around the country.
Kenneth Goodman, president and CEO of Forest Laboratories, Inc., announced the grants, which included the the awarding of the first Barbara Goodman Endowed Research Career Development Award for Pancreatic Cancer to the Hebrew University's Dr. Yuval Dor, who is researching pancreatic cancer formation.
"We have increased our funding of Israeli cancer researchers by 14 percent this year," said ICRF president Dr. Yashar Hirshaut, a noted New York oncologist.
ICRF awardees have been involved in many other significant breakthroughs, including the development of Gleevec, a drug with promising results in treating certain forms of leukemia.