Interview with Avram Hershko

“I try to do an experiment every day”

Transcript of the telephone interview with Professor Avram Hershko after the announcement of the 2004 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, 6 October 2004. Interviewer was Joanna Rose, science writer.

– Hello.

– Hello Avram. Congratulations to the prize. My name is Joanna Rose and I call from the, which is the official website of The Nobel Foundation.

– Yes.

– 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?

– No.

– Um-hmm. So, now you will be there yourself.

– O.K.

– Yes, thank you very much and have a good day.

– Thank you. Same to you. Thanks for calling. Bye.

– Bye.

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MLA style: Interview with Avram Hershko. Nobel Media AB 2020. Sat. 28 Mar 2020. <>

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