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NIH Office of the Director (OD)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Wednesday, October 6, 2004

NIH OD Office of Communications
and Public Liaison

Press Statement from NIH Director Elias A. Zerhouni, M.D.
NIH Grantees Win 2004 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for Study of Protein Degradation Pathway

The 2004 Nobel Prize in chemistry is shared by two long-time NIH grantees, Irwin Rose, Ph.D., and Avram Hershko, M.D., Ph.D.

This is a classic example of how basic research on the chemical mechanism underlying a biological process reveals a pathway essential to life. Understanding how cells maintain internal balance by regulating protein degradation is crucial for knowing how this balance is disrupted in disease. This fundamental research points the way to developing drugs that target the pathway, such as Velcade, which is used to treat the blood cancer multiple myeloma.

NIH is proud that its sustained support of this research led to the findings honored in today's Nobel Prize. The NIH components that funded the prize-winning scientists are the National Institute of General Medical Sciences; the former National Institute of Arthritis, Diabetes, and Digestive and Kidney Diseases; the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases; and the National Cancer Institute. Rose first received support from NIH in 1956 and Hershko has been a grantee since 1980. Over the years, NIH has provided $7.5 million to support the two scientists' research.

Since 1954, NIH has supported the work of 34 Nobel laureates in chemistry.

The NIH comprises the Office of the Director and 27 Institutes and Centers. The Office of the Director is the central office at NIH, and is responsible for setting policy for NIH and for planning, managing, and coordinating the programs and activities of all the NIH components. The NIH is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Related announcement: 2004 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine

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