Growth Factor


Prof. Yosef Yarden. Investigating cancer



Twelve Things You Didn't Know about Professor Yosef Yarden

Yarden was born in Tiberias to a family that emigrated to Israel upon the establishment of the state.

2. He grew up in Nazareth Illit, a development town, and to this day remains in contact with his high school friends, most of them former immigrants. "It was a class with a very positive atmosphere of competitive study. We all knew that in order to get ahead, we had to make a continuous effort to achieve."

3. Yarden's army service was with the prestigious paratroopers where he rose to the rank of platoon commander. Today, his reserve duty rank is Lieutenant Colonel. He met his wife, Rachel, during their army service.

4. At the age of 23 he began studying biology and geology at the Hebrew University, but when it came time to choose a field for doctoral study, he gave up geology to concentrate on biology.

The Yardens have two sons, Tohar,15, and Dan, 2, and a daughter, Yasmin,12. Yarden on child-rearing: He doesn't focus on issues like homework, instead subscribing to the belief that kids should be allowed to be kids, sans stress. Rather, you'll find him asking the children about what they think of the world around them.

6. At the age of 27 he began studying at the Institute's Feinberg Graduate School on the fast track to a doctorate. His thesis, under the supervision of Professor Joseph Schlesinger, dealt with the mechanisms of growth regulation.

7. He carried out two post-doctoral studies, the first at Genentech Inc. in San Francisco and the second at MIT's Whitehead Institute. Both studies focused on new growth factors and the role they play in the development of cancers. Within this framework, he developed a method, in widespread use today in research and industry, identifying growth factors by means of their receptors.

8. In 1991 he was awarded the title of associate professor, and in 1995, the title of professor.

During his studies on the role played by growth factors in the development of cancers, he discovered that a specific receptor, which is activated by other growth factor receptors, plays the role of an "amplifier," reinforcing the hormonal signal received by cells. The amplified hormonal signal causes the rapid division of the cell, which is liable to lead to the development of a cancerous growth.

His current studies are directed toward understanding the function of the amplifier and the development of immunization and other methods to restrain it ­ something which could prevent cancerous growth.

His research team is comprised of a research assistant, two masters students, six doctoral students and six post-doctoral fellows.

Yarden cultivates a (purely theoretical) interest in politics and the world economy. He also indulges in non-competitive sports.

11. Yarden used to read biographies, skewed toward the Israeli greats. He's a non-fiction man, in contrast to his work, which involves the creative and the imaginary. He also reads to-the-point short stories that deliver a succinct message and immediate impact.

12. Action movies. Yep. They're the only ones that keep him awake.