Skip to main content
Premium Trial:

Request an Annual Quote

Irwin Rose Dies

Irwin Rose, who shared the 2004 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, has died, the Associated Press reports. He was 88.

Along with Aaron Ciechanover and Avram Hershko, Rose received the Nobel for their work elucidating ubiquitin-mediated protein degradation. Their findings, the AP adds, was the basis for new therapies for diseases as diverse as cystic fibrosis and cervical cancer.

In the 1950s, the New York Times notes, many biochemists were exploring how proteins are made. But Jonathan Chernoff from Fox Chase Cancer Center, where Rose worked for much of his career, says Rose "was interested in the opposite: How are proteins destroyed?"

"There were not very many people working on it," Chernoff adds. "I don't think they particularly considered it an interesting question. But he thought it was an interesting question. And he was right."

Then in the 1970s, another team of researchers uncovered a small protein that was found in all tissues and organisms — so much so that they dubbed it ubiquitin — though its function was unknown, the Times adds.

But Rose and his collaborators Ciechanover and Hershko, both at the Technion in Israel, found that it becomes attached to old and damaged proteins and marks them for destruction.