Aharon Razin PhD

Recipient of the Canada Gairdner International Award, 2011
"For his pioneering discoveries on DNA methylation and its role in gene expression."

Department Developmental Biology and Cancer Research, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Jerusalem

The challenge: How do cells know which genes to use and which to ignore?
The work: Aharon Razin – along with Howard Cedar and Adrian Bird – demonstrated how adding a simple chemical group (a methyl group) to DNA affects how and when genetic information is used.
Why it matters: Understanding how to turn methylation on and off could lead to treatments for cancer and other diseases.

Prof. Aharon Razin received his BSc from the Hebrew University in 1962 and went on to earn an MSc and PhD in the laboratory of Prof. Yaakov Mager on the subject of nucleotide metabolism. He did postdoctoral research in the laboratory of Dr. Robert Sinsheimer and, since 1971, has been on the faculty of the Hebrew University, where he is currently a full professor in Biochemistry. Prof. Razin is an elected member of EMBO, received the Israel Prize in 2004, and became a member of the Israel Academy of Sciences in 2008. He received the Wolf Prize in Medicine in 2008 and the Emet Prize in Life Sciences in 2009.

Key Papers
1981 Gruenbaum, Y., T. Naveh-Many, H. Cedar, and A. Razin. Sequence specificity of methylation in higher plant DNA. Nature 292: 860-862.

1982 Gruenbaum, Y., H. Cedar, and A. Razin. Substrate and sequence specificity of a eukaryotic DNA methylase. Nature 295: 620-622.

1982 Stein, R., Razin, A. and Cedar, H. In vitro methylation of the hamster APRT gene inhibits its expression in mouse L-cells. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 79, 3418-3422.

1983 Stein, R., Sciaky-Gallili, N., Razin, A. and Cedar, H. The pattern of methylation of two genes coding for housekeeping functions. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 80, 2422-2426.

1992 Kafri, T., M. Ariel, M. Brandeis, R. Shemer, L. Urven, J. McCarrey, H. Cedar, and A. Razin. Developmental pattern of gene-specific DNA methylation in the mouse embryo and germline. Genes Dev. 6: 705-714.