Prof. Moshe Oren

Department of Molecular Cell Biology Director, Moross Integrated Cancer Center Weizmann Institute of Science

Prof. Moshe Oren was born in Poland and immigrated to Israel as a child in 1950. He received his MSc degree in microbiology from Tel Aviv University in 1970, and his PhD in molecular virology from the Weizmann Institute of Science in 1978. He did postdoctoral work at Princeton University and at SUNY-Stony Brook. In 1981, he joined the Weizmann Institute where he holds the Andre Lwoff Professorial Chair in Molecular Biology. Prof. Oren has held a number of senior positions at the Institute: he served as Director of the Leo and Julia Forchheimer Center for Molecular Genetics, Chair of the Council of Professors and of the Senior Promotions Committee, and, from 1999 to 2003, was Dean of the Faculty of Biology. In 2015, he was appointed the first Director of the newly established Moross Integrated Cancer Center.

Prof. Oren has spent much of his career studying a key player in molecular cancer control—the tumor suppressor gene called p53. In the early 1980s, he cloned p53, meaning that he determined the sequence of its genetic letters, which has provided the foundation for much of the subsequent p53 research worldwide. Prof. Oren also obtained some of the earliest evidence that p53 is indeed a tumor suppressor and was the first to prove that this gene causes apoptosis, the natural process that leads to cell death. These findings have enabled physicians to develop innovative therapeutic strategies, including the first clinically approved anti-cancer gene therapy. His work focuses on understanding the mechanisms that govern the activity of p53 in normal and in cancer cells, and he also investigates the involvement of micro-RNAs—tiny bits of encoded genetic material that regulate protein production—in cancer.

His numerous awards include the Leukemia Society of America Scholarship (1985-1990), the Feher Award for Medical Research (1993), the Abisch-Frenkel Prize for Excellence in the Life Sciences (1999), the Sergio Lombroso Award in Cancer Research, the Lombroso Prize for Cancer Research (2002), the Harvey Lectureship of NY (2002), the EMET Prize in Biology (2003), a Merit Award of the National Cancer Institute (2003), and the Israel Prize in 2008 for biochemistry. He serves on the editorial boards of several leading scientific journals and is a member of the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, a Foreign Associate of the US National Academy of Medicine, and a Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and of the Academia Europeae.

Prof. Oren and his wife Rachel, also a graduate of the Weizmann Institute, have four children and seven grandchildren. In the little time that is not devoted to science, Prof. Oren likes to listen to classical music and take nature hikes.