Dr. Aharon Razin
Professor (Emeritus) of Biochemistry at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem
, Developmental Biology & Cancer Research, IMRIC
My interest in Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry first peaked in high school due to excellent teachers. Since I excelled in these courses, I decided to pursue this field at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in the Faculty of Science.
At first, I focused on math and physics, but eventually I emphasized my research in the field of chemistry resulting in my PhD in Biochemistry at the Hebrew University's Faculty of Medicine. It was during this time that I had a very inspirational mentor, Prof. Yaakov Mager, who was an superb scientist and teacher. Prof. Mager recommended that I go to Caltech for my postdoctoral training in DNA metabolism.
I fulfilled my postdoctoral goal in the lab of Prof. Robert Sinsheimer. It was in this lab that I became interested in DNA methylation research, the scientific field that I have pursued for the last four decades. For the past 30 years I have collaborated with IMRIC Prof. Howard Cedar in DNA methylation investigations. Together, we planted the first seed in this research field and discovered that DNA methylation regulates gene activity. This breakthrough led to a new field of study in biology – Epigenetics. I am most proud of this scientific achievement and the future potential that it holds for medical science. Epigenetics is now a central phenomenon in biology that is involved in the development and normal function of the cell and genetic diseases.
1968 - 1970: Post-Doctoral training, California Institute of Technology
1967: M.Sc. and Ph.D., Hebrew University Medical School
World-renowned Hebrew University biochemists Prof. Howard (Chaim) Cedar and emeritus Prof. Aharon Razin were pleased to hear predictions late last week that they would likely win the 2013 Nobel Prize in the fields of medicine or chemistry.
Epigentics is the study of how chemical changes caused by our environment can alter our gene expression – without altering DNA structure. Bird, Cedar and Razin have focused their work on how these signals and changes can now be used for therapies and understanding diseases - epigenetics can no longer just be dismissed as an phenomenon.