McGill University, Canada
Dr. Sonenberg received his Ph.D. in Biochemistry from the Weizmann Institute of Science (Rehovot, Israel) in 1976. He joined the Roche Institute of Molecular Biology in Nutley, New Jersey as a Chaim Weizmann postdoctoral fellow with Aaron Shatkin. In 1979 he moved to Montreal to become an Assistant Professor and later Professor in the Department of Biochemistry at McGill University. In 1985-86 he took a sabbatical leave and was visiting professor in David Baltimore’s laboratory at the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research. Between 2002-2017 Dr. Sonenberg was a James McGill Professor, and since 2017 he is a Gilman Cheney Chair in the Department of Biochemistry and the Rosalind and Morris Goodman Cancer Research Centre at McGill.
Dr. Sonenberg studies the molecular basis of the control of protein synthesis in eukaryotic cells and its importance in diseases such as cancer, obesity, diabetes and neurological diseases. His research focuses primarily on the elucidation of the mechanism of translation initiation in eukaryotes and its regulation during development, differentiation and neoplasia. Dr. Sonenberg carried out pioneering and fundamental work that laid the basis for the understanding of how translation initiation factors promote ribosome binding, and the regulation of initiation factor activity by extracellular stimuli (growth factors, hormones, G-protein-coupled receptor agonists, cytokines and mitogens), and viruses. He made seminal discoveries demonstrating that control of translation initiation is implicated in cancer, learning and memory, autism and fragile X-syndrome.