Nahum Sonenberg

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Nahum Sonenberg
Born (1946-12-29) December 29, 1946 (age 71)
Wetzlar, Germany
Residence Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Alma mater Tel-Aviv University
Weizmann Institute of Science
Known for Translational Control
Awards Gairdner Foundation International Award (2008)
Robert L. Noble Prize
Wolf Prize
Scientific career
Fields Biochemistry
Institutions The Rosalind and Morris Goodman Cancer Research Centre
McGill University

Nahum Sonenberg, OC FRS FRSC (Hebrew: נחום סוננברג‎; born December 29, 1946) is an Israeli Canadian microbiologist and biochemist. He is a James McGill professor of biochemistry at McGill University in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.[1] He was an HHMI international research scholar from 1997 to 2011 and is now a senior international research scholar.[2] He is best known for his seminal contributions to our understanding of translation, and notable for the discovery of the mRNA 5' cap-binding protein, eIF4E, the rate-limiting component of the eukaryotic translation apparatus.


Sonenberg was born in a camp for displaced persons in Wetzlar, Germany[3] and grew up in Israel. He received a B.Sc. and M.Sc. in Microbiology and Immunology from Tel-Aviv University and his Ph.D. in Biochemistry from the Weizmann Institute of Science in 1976.[4] He later held a Chaim Weizmann postdoctoral fellowship at the Roche Institute of Molecular Biology.[5] He joined McGill University in 1979.[6]


Sonenberg's primary research has been on the translational control of protein synthesis. Notably, he discovered the mRNA 5' cap-binding protein, eIF4E, the rate-limiting component of the eukaryotic translation apparatus, and also discovered the regulation of eIF4E by the eIF4EBPs. In addition, he has helped to decipher the roles of various other proteins involved in translation including the roles of other subunits of eIF4F (of which eIF4E is a member) including the helicase activity which scans mRNA to find the initiation codon. Sonenberg also discovered the Internal ribosome entry site (IRES) mode of translation, the cap-independent initiation of translation, which is critical for some mRNA involved in stress, cell cycling and apoptosis. His work in basic science has had an impact in the study of cancer, including the realization that eIF4E over expression is prominent in many cancers, and has suggested its utility as a tumor marker. Currently, he has expanded his research into topics such as the roles of translation in neurobiology and synaptic plasticity.[7] Presently, his lab works on translational control in cancer, oncolytic viruses as anti-cancer drugs, microRNA control of translation, and translational control of plasticity, learning and memory.[8] He received the Gairdner Foundation International Award in 2008 for his contributions to medical science.[9] He was appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2010.[10]

In 2014, Sonenberg was awarded the Wolf Prize in Medicine.[11]

Awards and recognition[edit]


  1. ^ "James McGill Professor"McGill University (Retrieved on Dec 10, 2013)
  2. ^ "Our Scientists"HHMI (Retrieved on Dec 10, 2013)
  3. ^ Canadian Who's Who Search. Grey House Publishing Canada.
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^ Griswold, Ann (2017-08-22). "Profile of Nahum Sonenberg". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 114 (34): 8905–8907. doi:10.1073/pnas.1711714114. ISSN 0027-8424. PMID 28784780.
  7. ^ "Prof Nahum Sonenberg"The Wolf Foundation (Retrieved on Jan 19, 2013)
  8. ^ "Research"Research (Retrieved on Jan 19, 2013)
  9. ^ "Nahum Sonenberg PhD"The Gairdner Foundation (Retrieved on Dec 10, 2013)
  10. ^ Governor General announces 74 new appointments to the Order of Canada
  11. ^ Israeli-Canadian scientist wins Wolf Prize for medicine, Haaretz
  12. ^ a b c d e f g h [1]
  13. ^ "Fellows". Royal Society. Retrieved 20 October 2010.

External links[edit]