Telephone interview with Professor Avram Hershko after the announcement of the 2004 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, October 6, 2004. Interviewer was Joanna Rose, science writer.
– Hello Avram. Congratulations to the prize. My name is Joanna Rose and I call from the Nobelprize.org, which is the official website of The Nobel Foundation.
– My congratulations to the prize.
– Thank you.
– How does it feel now?
– Oh, I am very happy. Very happy for my family, for my institution, my country, and for myself also. I think this is a very … as you know it is a very good recognition. I’m also very happy, I should add that … that Irwin Rose was included, because I got many prizes before, but he was never included. And he did make a very important contribution to the discovery. So I am glad that justice was made. I really think that justice was made at this time.
– Did you expect the message today?
– No. I was out on a picnic with four granddaughters. It is a holiday today in Israel. We call it a day of … a kids’ day. So I invited four grandchildren, and we went out for a picnic, and to a swimming pool in a kibbutz, and there I heard it from … somebody heard it on the radio.
– I understand.
– But it was good. It was very exciting.
– Yeah. What was your first reaction when you heard it from the radio?
– Well, I thought … I was very happy. My first reaction was I am very happy for Ernie Rose. And, also happy for myself, of course. And for Ciechanover.
– Can you tell me just how do you think that the Nobel Prize is going to affect your future work?
– I … you know I enjoy bench work very much. I try to do an experiment every day, even today. And, I would like to continue with that because it’s really exciting. So, I hope it won’t affect too much my life. But of course you never know. There will be distractions I am sure. And there will be some duties. I’m sure there will be some invitations I will have to say ”yes” to. But, more or less, I would like to continue to do my work. I think I can still contribute. Not in the same big way as twenty-five years ago, but still contributing and then still having a lot of fun at the bench.
– Did you realize, when you did your discovery for over twenty years ago, that it is worth a Nobel Prize?
– Yeah. I thought so. I wasn’t waiting for it you know, but I knew already that it … because the impact is really big, you know about … when I started to work on ubiquitin there were about ten papers a year on ubiquitin. And now there are thousands in a year. So, it really became a kind of a cascade, and many people heard about us all over the world … mind about us … very big about this … all over the world are working on different aspects of the ubiquitin system and different systems. So I knew it was important. But I wasn’t waiting for the prize. No, I wasn’t waiting for it. But of course, I am very grateful for it.
– I understand. Have you any good advice to young students that maybe dream about receiving the Nobel Prize in the future?
– Well, not about receiving the Nobel Prize, but about doing science. My advice is … well that’s what I did, you know, to try to find something novel, and open up new problems which is not yet reached a big level at this time, not yet interested, but you think is important. I think that’s what I did about thirty-five years ago. And then, continue with it. That’s my advice. Try to find a unique problem which is important, but which is not yet in the center of the attention of biology or of chemistry. I think that is true for discoveries, that’s how it should be done. So, that’s my advice for young people.
– Yeah. My last question is, have you ever visited the Nobel website?
– Pardon me?
– Have you ever visited the Nobel website on the internet?
– Um-hmm. So, now you will be there yourself.
– Yes, thank you very much and have a good day.
– Thank you. Same to you. Thanks for calling. Bye.