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Two Hebrew University professors win prestigious Canadian medical science award

The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

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IMAGE: Professor Aharon Razin and Professor Chaim Cedar, who are winners of the Canada Gairdner International Awards for 2011. view more

Credit: Hebrew University photo by Hezi Hojesta

Jerusalem, March 23, 2011 - Two Hebrew University of Jerusalem Faculty of Medicine professors were named today as winners of the Canada Gairdner International Awards, which are presented annually to researchers from around the world for outstanding contributions to medical science. The awards are presented annually in October in Toronto.

The honorees are Prof. Chaim Cedar and Prof Aharon Razin. They are the first Hebrew University faculty members to have won the Gairdner Awards. Both are members of the Institute for Medical Research Israel Canada at the Hebrew University Faculty of Medicine.

The awards were created by the Gairdner Foundation to recognize and reward the achievements of medical researchers whose work contributes significantly to improving the quality of human life. Since the first awards were made in 1959, the Gairdner Awards have become Canada's foremost international award in its field.and are recognized among the most prestigious prizes awarded in biomedical science.

Prof. Cedar explained the essence of the work that he and Prof. Razin have done:

"All components of the human body are constructed by reading the information encoded in our genes. The entire information booklet, present in every cell of the body, has been completely deciphered as part of the human genome project and serves as the basis for understanding genetic diseases. We discovered that the text of this gene booklet is actually annotated through a chemical process called DNA methylation. These methyl groups provide a sophisticated system for marking which genes should be turned on or turned off in every tissue of the body. This represents a completely new form of biological information that is responsible for regulating the process of human development."

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Prof. Razin, a native Tel Avivian has been a member of the faculty of the Hebrew University since 1971 and is currently a full professor in biochemistry. He is the recipient of many prizes, including the Israel and Wolf prizes, and is a member of the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities.

Prof. Cedar, a native of New York, immigrated to Israel in 1973 and joined the medical faculty of the Hebrew University, becoming a full professor in 1981. He too has received numerous awards for his research work, including the Israel Prize and the Wolf Prize. He became a member of the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities in 2003.

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