Conferences archive > 2009 > SPEAKERS & ABSTRACTS

Yosef Yarden

Yosef Yarden is professor in the Department of Biological Regulation at the Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot. He received his BSc in biology and geology (cum laude) at the Hebrew University, Jerusalem, Israel in 1979, and his PhD at the Weizmann Institute in 1985. He trained at Genentech Inc. in San Francisco and in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Cambridge, MA) before establishing his own research laboratory in 1989 at the Weizmann Institute. Recently, Dr. Yarden has completed a 6-year service as Dean of the Feinberg Graduate School. Currently, he serves as Chair of the National Committee on Biotechnology and Chair of the Research Committee of the Israel Cancer Association. In the past he served as Vice President for Academic Affairs of the Weizmann Institute of Science, Dean of the Faculty of Biology and Director of the M.D. Moross Cancer Research Institute.     Dr Yarden's research career has been devoted to understanding the biological roles for hormone-like molecules, called growth factors. These molecules instruct embryonic development and they continue to function in adulthood, for example in wound healing and in breast development. Yarden has been involved in many crucial discoveries that unraveled the roles for growth factors in cancer. He pioneered the isolation of several growth factors and also their receptors, namely cell surface proteins that transfer the instruction for cell division. Yarden's extensive research on the structure and function of growth factor receptors has lead to their recognition as targets for cancer therapy. Indeed, over the last decade several efficacious anti-cancer drugs have been developed against growth factors and their receptors.   Yarden has received numerous awards for his work, including the H. Dudley Wright Research Award in Biomembranes, the Somech Sachs Prize in Chemistry, the Andre Lwoff Prize, the Lombroso Award for Cancer Research, the Michael Bruno Prize of Yad Hanadiv Fund, the Teva Founders' Prize, the EMET Prize of the State of Israel, the MERIT Award of the U.S. National Cancer Institute and the Hamilton Fairley Award of the European Societies of Medical Oncology. Yarden is a member of the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, the European Molecular Biology Organization and the Asia-Pacific International Molecular Biology Network.

The Era of Genome-based Targeted Therapy of Cancer.

Decades of genome-based discoveries that resolved the molecular basis of the neoplastic process (cancer development) are finally yielding new approaches to detect, treat and prevent cancer. Alongside, molecular biologists are paving new methods to classification of the many subtypes of cancer, which opens the way for patient-tailored treatments. Yet another important contribution comes from genetic engineers who manipulate antibody molecules, thereby enabling mobilization of powerful defense machineries against cancer. My lecture will review these strides by referring to specific examples relevant to the roles played by growth factors and their receptors in tumor initiation, recruitment of blood vessels (angiogenesis) and colonization of distant organs (metastasis). Specifically, I will highlight the important insights of the relatively young field of systems biology, and describe how concepts derived from engineering influence the views of biologists interested in cancer therapy.

1.   Citri, A., and Yarden, Y. (2006). EGF-ERBB signalling: towards the systems level. Nat Rev Mol Cell Biol 7, 505-516.
2 Amit, I., Wides, R., and Yarden, Y.  (2007).  Evolvable  signaling  networks  of receptor tyrosine kinases: relevance of robustness to malignancy and to cancer therapy. Mol Syst Biol 3, 151.
3.    Mosesson, Y., Mills, G.B., and Yarden, Y. (2008). Derailed endocytosis: an emerging feature of cancer. Nat Rev Cancer 8, 835-850.
4.    Amit, I., Citri, A., Shay, T., Lu, Y., Katz, M., Zhang, F., Tarcic, G., Siwak, D., Lahad, J., Jacob-Hirsch, J., et al. (2007). A module of negative feedback regulators defines growth factor signaling. Nat Genet 39, 503-512.(Mosesson et al., 2008)

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