Sharon, Nathan

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SHARON, NATHAN (1925– ), Israeli biochemist. Sharon was born in Brisk, Poland, and immigrated to Palestine in 1934. He was educated at Tel Aviv High School and earned his M.Sc. (1950) and Ph.D. (1953) in biochemistry from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He was a research assistant at the Agricultural Research Station, Reḥovot (1949–53), before joining the staff of the department of biophysics at the Weizmann Institute (1954), where he was appointed professor (1968) and head of department (1973–83 and 1987–90). He was dean of the faculty of biophysics and bioengineering for three periods between 1976 and 1986. He was professor emeritus after 1995. He also carried out postdoctoral research at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, and at Brookhaven National Laboratory, Upton, New York (1956–58). Sharon's research initially concerned lectins, the proteins found in plants, microbes, and mammalian cells that combine with carbohydrate-containing proteins, and later extended to the broader field of sugar-containing proteins called glycoproteins and the associated field of glycobiology. These proteins have important roles in the growth and differentiation of normal cells and the changed behavior of cancer cells. Sharon has a particular interest in cell surface molecules in the family called adhesins and their role in permitting invading microbes to attach to and infect cells. He has used his discoveries to suggest simple forms of treatment, such as cranberry juice to prevent urinary tract infections, and to develop longer-term strategies for blocking microbial adherence to host cells. Sharon's achievements have been internationally recognized by many distinguished honors and awards. These include election to the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities (1992), the Israel Prize in biochemistry and medicine (1994), and foreign membership in the Academia Europaea (1999), the Polish Academy of Sciences (2000), and the American Society for Microbiology (2001). He served as a visiting professor at many leading universities in North America and Europe. Even after attaining emeritus status he continued to contribute original and frequently cited scientific papers and to write authoritative reviews. His books on lectins and complex carbohydrates are highly regarded. His interest in scientific education includes three books of popular science and chairmanship of influential Israeli committees concerned with the advancement of science.

[Michael Denman (2nd ed.)]

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Sharon, Nathan

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