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.