Faculty Administrator: Ms. Pnina Carmi
The Faculty of Biology is one of two faculties of Life Sciences at the Institute. Together with the sister Faculty of Biochemistry, research efforts span the understanding of life at all levels, from the molecule to the cell and the intact organism. The four Scientific Departments of the Faculty of Biology dedicate their efforts to understanding biological processes in normal and pathological settings. The Departments of Neurobiology and Immunology, concentrate on the nervous and the immune systems respectively. The Departments of Molecular Cell Biology and Biological Regulation share interest in understanding regulatory networks that affect function and structure at the cellular to whole organism levels, during pathological and physiological development. Our large core service center, the Department of Veterinary Resources, provides cutting edge pre-clinical facilities.
|Biological Regulation||Bioinformation & Biological Computing|
|Molecular Cell Biology||BioNumbers|
|Neurobiology||Crohn's & Colitis Interest Group|
|Veterinary Resources||Crown Human Genome Center|
|In Vivo Imaging Center|
|Molecular Neurosciences Forum|
|The Kahn Project in Systems Biology|
|Young PI Forum|
Research focuses on the regulation of processes responsible for the concerted action of cells, tissues, vascular networks and organs. Studies aim at identification of signaling pathways involving hormones, growth promoting factors, as well as programmed cell death and survival factors, and processing and regulation of developmental and differentiation events.
In these investigations a diverse range of methodologies are applied in different in vitro and in vivo systems: namely, biochemical, molecular biology, and physiological methods in tissue cultures, organs and whole animals. Non-invasive imaging technologies are developed and applied by the utilization of optical means, as well as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and spectroscopy (MRS). Since changes in the regulation of such processes are a cause for many human diseases (cancer, infertility, heart failure, stroke etc.), the results are applied towards the development of new modes of treatment, such as photodynamic cancer therapy, and drugs for pharmacological intervention.
The wide range of research activities in the Department of Immunology covers a spectrum of studies ranging from fundamental aspects of antigen recognition and intracellular signaling to intercellular communication as well as immune-cell differentiation, migration and homing. Naturally, the progress made in resolving the basic principles underlining the mode of operation of the immune system is also applied to furthering the understanding of its disorders such as autoimmunity and allergies, as well as to the design of new immunotherapeutic modalities to fight cancer and infectious diseases. Among the different interesting advances made during the recent years is the effective collaborations that have evolved amongst several researchers of the Department in studying the relationship between migration and adhesion of immune cells and their regulation during the functional maturation of the immune system.
Research in the Department focuses on understanding the molecular mechanisms and systems levels that control cell behavior, focusing on cell growth regulation, determination of cell fate and differentiation, cell adhesion and movement and intracellular trafficking . These studies include investigations into the mode of action of growth factors, and the nature of signals triggered by them in target cells. Cell growth regulation is also examined through explorations of tumor suppressor genes, such as p53, which inhibit cell proliferation and can drive cells toward differentiation or apoptosis, as well as through the characterization of growth-activating genes and signaling networks. Researchers in Molecular Cell Biology also address the understanding of the mechanisms underlying cancerous transformation, either due to deregulated growth or to failure to undergo apoptosis. There is broad interest in the molecular mechanisms of cell adhesion and motility, and their involvement in the regulation of cellular and embryonic morphogenesis, neuronal development, and in the spread of tumor metastases. Additional studies investigate the identification of recognition molecules which mediate cell-cell interactions during nervous system development.
Research in the Department of Neurobiology encompasses a wide variety of subjects, in areas including cellular and molecular biology, neuroanatomy, brain imaging (including functional magnetic resonance imaging; fMRI), physiology, pharmacology, psychophysics, and computational sciences. Projects include analysis of the molecular and cellular basis of neuronal cell activity and synaptic function; Imaging of neuronal activity underlying higher brain functions; Tracing and characterization of neuronal communication profiles; Characterization of the nervous system response to trauma and lesion; developing molecular and cellular therapeutic agents; Determination of the underlying processes and mechanisms of vision, perception, learning, and memory in behaving rodents and primates; Computer modeling of brain function.
The Department of Veterinary Resources provides services and facilities to the Life Science faculties. The department has a staff of 75. Its activities include breeding and maintenance of laboratory animals and the operation of specialized facilities such as The Facility for Genetically Modified Animals, The In Vivo Bioimaging Unit, The Pathology and Immuno-Histochemistry Unit and The Behavior and Metabolic Unit. These facilities provide Weizmann Institute researchers with powerful and timely tools for developing and analyzing animal models of human disease.
The Faculty considers as its major aim to foster biological studies both at the organism and at the molecular level, by using state of the art technologies. Accordingly, we are constantly streamlining services that help research groups generate animal models, including gene-knockout and transgenic animals. In parallel, we seek to enhance our research activities that use sophisticated imaging methods, including digital light microscopy, MRI and EEG, ultrasound and CT to follow the function of cells, internal organs, tumors and the brain. In anticipation of changes in the directions of biomedical research in the 21st century, the Faculty is encouraging research in the field of biological physics and systems biology, bringing together researchers trained in physics, mathematics, chemistry and life sciences.
Our other major challenge is to attract and recruit outstanding young scientists. In an age of constantly growing complexity of unanswered biological questions and ever increasing competition for discoveries, we consider it our shared responsibility to provide optimal conditions for the creativity of our promising junior faculty members.