Research Update

February 2015 

Prof. Yosef Shiloh, ICRF “Research Professor”
Awarded First Olav Thon Foundation Prize

Norway’s premier charitable organization awards Israeli cancer geneticist
International Research Award for work on cell survival and DNA stability


Professor Yosef (“Yossi”) Shiloh, a recipient of the prestigious Research Professorship of the Israel Cancer Research Fund (ICRF) and the Myers Professor of Cancer Genetics at Tel Aviv University’s Sackler School of Medicine, has been awarded the Olav Thon Foundation’s first International Research Award for Mathematics/Natural Sciences and Medicine for 2015. He will be sharing this honor and the $660,000 prize money with Professor Judith Campisi of the Buck Institute for Research on Aging in Berkeley, California. The ceremony will take place on March 5, 2015, at the University of Norway in Oslo.

Prof. Shiloh was recognized for his pioneering research on the mechanisms that maintain the survival of human cells and the stability of human genetic material.

“A prize means scientific recognition,” said Prof. Shiloh. “Scientists do not work in order to get prizes or any other monetary benefits, but the award of a prize means that our work is recognized by our colleagues, and this is probably the true reward of a scientist.”

Prof. Shiloh has spent much of his career investigating the processes that maintain genome stability and the defense mechanisms against substances that damage our DNA. He has investigated how the harmful effects of such substances can be countered and offered insights into how mammalian cells react to DNA damage produced by environmental factors, such as radiation and carcinogenic chemicals.

“We are thrilled to hear about Yossi Shiloh’s most recent award,” said Ken Goodman, Chairman of the Israel Cancer Research Fund. “Since 2007, we have been supporting his pioneering research on the mechanisms that maintain the survival of human cells and the stability of human genetic material.  Recently, we renewed his grant for another seven years (thanks to the Feiss, Greene and Hersh families in New York) so that he can expedite his brilliant investigative work. “

According to the American Association for Cancer Research, the world’s largest association for cancer research, which presented Professor Shiloh with the prestigious Clowes Award in 2011, “Professor Shiloh is an international leader in his field and an extraordinary scientist. His work has launched a scientific revolution and opened up new horizons in the understanding of how the living cell copes with DNA damage, which is among the main factors in cancer.”

The efforts of Israeli cancer researchers have resulted in many significant breakthroughs in recent years. According to Brad Goldhar, ICRF President, “We are extremely proud of our ICRF-funded scientists and the intellectual and innovative research taking place in Israel today.  The scientists that we have funded have helped to elucidate the role of the p53 tumor-suppressor gene (present in 50 percent of all human cancers and now the most studied gene in the human genome), helped to develop widely-used cancer drugs (Doxil, Gleevec, and Velcade), and new bone marrow transplant techniques. They have enhanced our understanding of BRCA1 and BRCA2 related breast cancer.  In the research we fund, all types of cancer are targeted: brain, breast, colon, eye, gastrointestinal, kidney, liver, lung, ovarian and more.”

The Israel Cancer Research Fund is the largest organization in North America devoted solely to supporting cancer research in Israel.  Founded in 1975 by a group of American and Canadian researchers, oncologists, and lay people, ICRF has provided more than 2,100 grants totaling more than $52 million to outstanding scientists who work at all of the leading research institutions in Israel.  2015 marks the 40th Anniversary of ICRF’s Founding.