2004 No­bel Prize in chem­istry win­ner Ir­win Rose dies aged 88

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL -

Ir­win Rose, a bio­chemist who shared the 2004 No­bel Prize in chem­istry for dis­cov­er­ing a way that cells de­stroy un­wanted pro­teins — the ba­sis for de­vel­op­ing new ther­a­pies for dis­eases such as cer­vi­cal can­cer and cys­tic fi­bro­sis — has died. He was 88.

Rose died in his sleep early Tues­day in Deer­field, Mas­sachusetts, said spokes­woman Janet Wil­son of the Uni­ver­sity of Cal­i­for­nia, Irvine, where Rose had been a re­searcher.

Rose had a “for­mi­da­ble in­tel­lect and un­wa­ver­ing cu­rios­ity about fun­da­men­tal bi­o­log­i­cal and chemi- cal pro­cesses that are the foun­da­tion for life,” UCI Chan­cel­lor Howard Gill­man said in a uni­ver­sity state­ment.

Each hu­man cell con­tains about 100,000 dif­fer­ent pro­teins, which carry out jobs such as speed­ing up chem­i­cal re­ac­tions and act­ing as sig­nals.

Rose, along with Is­raelis Aaron Ciechanover and Avram Her­shko, won the No­bel for dis­cov­er­ing how plant and an­i­mal cells marked old and dam­aged pro­teins with a “kiss of death” mol­e­cule — the polypep­tide ubiq­ui­tin. The pro­teins are then chopped to pieces.

The process gov­erns such key pro­cesses as cell di­vi­sion, DNA re­pair and qual­ity con­trol of newly pro­duced pro­teins, as well as im­por­tant parts of the body’s im­mune de­fenses against dis­ease, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said in its No­bel ci­ta­tion.

Sci­en­tists have been try­ing to use the process to cre­ate medicines, ei­ther to pre­vent the break­down of pro­teins or make the cell de­stroy dis­ease- caus­ing ones. One ex­am­ple is the can­cer drug Vel­cade, which in­ter­feres with the cell’s pro­tein-chop­ping ma­chine.

Rose was born in Brook­lyn, New York, on July 16, 1926, and spent much of his ca­reer as a re­searcher at the Fox Chase Can­cer Cen­ter in Philadel­phia. His No­bel-win­ning work was done there in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

He joined UC Irvine as a re­searcher af­ter re­tir­ing to La­guna Beach in South­ern Cal­i­for­nia in 1997 and con­tin­ued to work reg­u­larly in a cam­pus lab and to pub­lish re­search pa­pers, the uni­ver­sity said.

Rose’s in­tel­li­gence and knowl­edge were “in the strato­sphere com­pared to the rest of us in the field,” and he was al­ways will­ing to pro­vide hands-on help to stu­dents and re­searchers strug­gling with ex­per­i­ments, Ralph Bradshaw, a long­time friend of Rose’s and a UC Irvine pro­fes­sor emer­i­tus of phys­i­ol­ogy & bio­physics, told the school.

On the day that Rose was an­nounced as a co-win­ner of the No­bel, “he tucked two test tubes in his shirt pocket and that night qui­etly slipped into a build­ing named af­ter an­other UCI No­bel lau­re­ate, Fred­er­ick Reines, where he used the uni­ver­sity’s pow­er­ful mass spec­trom­e­try fa­cil­ity to an­a­lyze the con­tents,” the uni­ver­sity state­ment said.

Rose was “never con­tent to bask in the glory of his ac­com­plish­ments and al­ways ea­ger to con­tinue mak­ing new dis­cov­er­ies,” chem­istry pro­fes­sor James Now­ick said in the state­ment.

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