Nobel Prize winner Aaron Ciechanover: „Working in science is like playing chess with God“

Nobelistas A. Ciechanovič

„For me, science is a play and enjoyment. I love it and hopefully, I will play with science until my last day“, – such hopes were expressed by the professor Aaron Ciechanover, Nobel Prize laureate, who is one of the International Life sciences conference The COINS 2020 attendees. What makes the professor joy now – is work with young researchers on the new ubiquitin system in the field of medicine, brain diseases and cancer.

When did you realise that you want to become a scientist?

Well, it took me some time, I was a medical student first, but then I realised that I do not want to cure diseases during my studies, because when you start doing so, diseases are already there. I wanted to understand where the diseases are coming from and in order to understand the mechanisms of diseases you have to become a scientist.

How did your life change after getting the Nobel Prize? How did you feel?

It did change, but I tried to keep it as normal as possible. I still have a big laboratory; I am doing my research as well. The science is still the most important thing for me, I love it, and I am passionate about it. The one thing that I really emphasise now a lot is education, and the reason why I am here, at The COINS 2020 conference, is education. This conference is organized only by students, and the audience is mostly students. I typically decline many invitations, but not this time, because students are the next generation, it is very important to invest in them and to show them that these achievements are possible. I am not talking about the Nobel Prize. I am not saying that people should aim for the Nobel Prize, but I want to encourage them to study science and to show them that even if you are from a small country like Israel, everything is possible.

What is the most interesting about working in the field of science?

I think the most interesting thing is discovering the secrets of nature – it is like playing chess with God. You know, there is no politics, people cannot brainwash you. Nature is different. Nature does not care about us. Nature is nature, and I think it is beautiful. There is no gender border, no national border and no language border. It is international and common to all of us.

What is personalized medicine and how is it changing our lives?

In brief, it is a more directed medicine that focuses not on the disease itself, but on the disease in the context of an individual. We first have to profile the individual into DNA background, genetics and composition, only then we direct the treatment to a person.

What are the perspectives of personalized medicine?

The best thing is that it is going to be much more precise. We are going to cure more diseases with drugs that have much less side effects. The drugs are going to be much more specific. The disadvantages of personalized medicine would be some biotechnological issues and issues with the drug companies that do not like it.

How could the availability of personalized medicine be addressed in the future?

Personalized medicine is a method, which is based on the ability of technology to profile patients. It is not a matter of choice, it is coming.

What are your plans and goals for the near future?

For me, science is a play and enjoyment and I hope to experience it until my last day. Right now, we are working on the system that we discovered on ubiquitin. We are working on it in the context of medicine, brain diseases and cancer. I have a very great team of talented, young people – researchers, graduate students. For me it is fun and I do not care about anything except the enjoyment.

How to engage the society in science? How to demonstrate the importance of research in the field of science?

I think a lot of it depends on the media. We should convince them that science is the basis of everything; everybody is using what science has made in a daily life. Computers, refrigerators, ovens, phones – all these things that people use are science. People don not realise it, they think it is coming from heaven. However, it is not, people make it all. If people are not convinced by that, they should at least try to convince their children to engage in the science world. Science is the future.

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