In the Footsteps of Paul Ehrlich




June 21, 2016


Faculty Club of the Institute of Life Sciences, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Givat Ram

Tentative program

09:00 – 09:50 – Get together

09:50 – 10:00 – Opening comments

Session I

10:00 – 10:30 – Ioav Cabantchick: Paul Ehrlich: A scientist for life.

10:30 – 11:00 – Tony Travis: Paul Ehrlich’s “preference for colors”: Communicating with dyes.

11:00 – 11:30 – David Engelberg: We cannot design drugs, we have to screen for them.

11:30 – 12:15 – Michal Lotem: To witness a revolution: Reflections of a melanoma immunotherapist.

12:15 – 13:00 – Lunch
Session II
13:00 – 13:45 – Amos Panet: Development of new antiviral drugs: From chemistry to gene therapy.

13:45 – 14:30 – Yosef Yarden: Playing chess against cancer and resistance to drugs.

14:30 – 15:00 – Coffee break


Session III

15:00 – 15:45 – Zvi Hayuka: Towards the design of effective antimicrobial agents. 

15:45 – 16:30 – Alexander Levitzki: Targeting the immune system to tumors.




Paul Ehrlich – Nobel laureate (1908), the founder of chemotherapy – using synthetic chemicals as drugs

Could you imagine a world without drugs? How would life be without the common, almost daily used, paracetamol (acamol) and aspirins that relieve headaches and other pains? Without antibiotics? Without the life-saving anti-cancer medicines?

It is hard to believe that synthetic drugs have been in use for just over 100 years. It was the pioneering idea of Paul Ehrlich that synthetic chemicals could be beneficial as therapeutic agents. He developed the first ever drug to attack sites of infection within the body, Salvarsan (arsphenamine or Ehrlich 606), an anti­syphilis therapeutic that was extremely successful and opened the way to the entire pharmaceutical field as we know it today. The introduction of Salvarsan was just one of the many contributions of Ehrlich, recognized as one of the most important scientists of the 20th century. In Berlin’s Jewish Museum he is introduced side-by-side with Albert Einstein among the most prominent scientists of all times.

Paul Ehrlich was also a member of the first academic committee of the board of governors of The Hebrew University, prior to its official establishment. At the cornerstone laying ceremony of the university held on Mt Scopus on July 24, 1918, Chaim Weizmann paid special tribute to Ehrlich: The sages of Babylon and Jerusalem, Maimonides and the Gaon of Vilna, the lens-polisher of Amsterdam, and Karl Marx, Heinrich Heine and Paul Ehrlich, are some of the important links in the long unbroken chain of intellectual development.

The Department of Biological Chemistry of the Institute of Life Sciences is proud to collaborate with the Sidney M. Edelstein Center for the History and Philosophy of Science, Technology and Medicine in the marking of the hundredth anniversary of Paul Ehrlich’s death, by following drug development over the past century, reviewing the current state-of-the art, and attempting to draw some lessons that can assist us in developing better therapies for the future.