Prof. Uri AlonSystems biology and physics of behavior
Understanding the protein circuits that perform computations within the cell is a central problem in biology. In physics, cells offer the challenge of understanding the collective behavior of interacting molecular machines designed to operate with remarkable precision under strong biological constraints. Our lab studies biological circuits, and applies the principles we discover also to understand dynamics on a different scale, that of human interactions.
- Network motifs: basic interaction patterns that recur throughout biological networks, much more often than in random networks
- Development of dynamic proteomics, a system for monitoring the position and amounts of endogenous proteins in individual living human cells
- We study evolution when multiple objectives are at play. When a biological system needs to perform more than one task, it faces a fundamental tradeoff, which leads to surprising simplicity in the range of phenotypes
- Theatre lab: we use concepts from improvisation theatre, and tools from physics and computer science to study basic principles of human interactions
Prof. Shalev ItzkovitzSystems Biology of Mammalian Tissues
We combine mathematical modelling and sensitive single-cell measurements to study the design principles of mammalian tissues. Specific topics include:
- Homeostatic mechanisms of intestinal stem cells
- Design principles of the mammalian liver
- Intercellular interactions in pancreatic islets
- Single molecule approaches for studying gene expression in intact tissues
Dr. Leeat KerenSystems tissue pathology
The Keren lab uses MIBI-TOF (Multiplexed Ion Beam Imaging by Time of Flight), a novel imaging platform in which antibodies conjugated to metals are used to simultaneously visualize dozens of proteins by Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry (SIMS). The result is a high-dimensional image, depicting sub-cellular protein expression and localization in situ.
Prof. Valery KrizhanovskyCellular senescence in tissue damage cancer and aging
Senescent cells accumulate in premalignant lesions, sites of tissue damage and in normal tissues during aging. We study how senescent cells affect cancer, aging and age-related diseases and also placenta during embryonic development.
- Cellular senescence in aging and age-related diseases
- Cellular senescence in premalignant lesions and cancer
- Interaction of senescent cells with the immune system
- Cellular senescence during embryonic development
Prof. Sima LevCell Signaling in Cancer Development and Metastasis
- Signaling networks in triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) subtypes
- Combination therapy, drug resistance, and cancer stem cells
- RTKs (AXL, cMet, EGFR) and non-RTKs (PYK2, FAK) signaling in TNBC
- Ferroptosis and TNBC therapy
- Epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) & TNBC metastasis
Prof. Gil LevkowitzLinking genes, development and function of the zebrafish hypothalamus
Our lab utilizes zebrafish as a vertebrate model organism to tackle basic questions concerning the development and function of the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus is an evolutionarily ancient and conserved brain region that allows all vertebrates to adapt to emotional and physiological challenges. Hypothalamic neurons regulate fundamental body functions including sleep, blood pressure, body temperature, hunger and thirst, stress and social behavior.
Our main goals are to identify the molecular mechanisms underlying:
- Morphogenesis and cell biology of the hypothalamo-neurohypophyseal system (NHS), which is an important neuroendocrine conduit between brain and blood through which neurohormones are released from hypothalamic neurons into the general circulation without disrupting the blood-brain barrier.
- The effects of early developmental processes on physiological functions of the mature hypothalamus, focusing on stress response and social behavior.
Prof. Moshe OrenMolecular and cellular biology of cancer
Our aim is to understand the molecular and cellular processes that control normal cell (and tissue) behavior, and how they become perturbed in cancer. Specifically, we focus on:
- The p53 tumor suppressor pathway
- The Hippo tumor suppressor pathway
- Chromatin modifications in cancer (particularly histone H2B ubiquitination)
- microRNAs in cancer
- Crosstalk between cancer cells and their microenvironment
Prof. Elior Peles
Dean, Faculty of BiologyDevelopment of myelinated nerves
Research in the lab focuses on the biology of Schwann cells and oligodendrocytes, the myelinating glial cells of the peripheral and central nervous system, respectively. We are using a variety of molecular, biochemical and genetic approaches to:
- Identify the axonal signals that control myelination
- Understand how glial cells recognize and wrap axon with myelin
- Dissect the cytoskeletal machinery that drives myelination
- Reveal how myelinating glia shape the membrane of the axons they wrap
Prof. Yardena SamuelsMelanoma Functional Genomics
Our group aims to discover recurrent tumor-specific mutations in melanoma using whole exome and whole genome sequencing approaches. Once mutations are identified, our group focuses on characterizing the biochemical, functional, and clinical aspects of the most highly mutated genes. To facilitate this search, we have established a unique bank of metastatic melanoma tumors which is used for:
- In depth functional analysis of melanoma mutations using novel preclinical models such as somatic cell knockout and somatic cell knockin isogenic cells
- Identification of melanoma protein/protein interactions using overexpression and endogenous epitope tagging,” (EET) approaches. This will uncover which signal transduction pathways mutated proteins impinge upon
- Delineate clinically ideal melanoma protein targets using single and combination drug screens
- In addition to the potential insights into basic tumor biology, new opportunities for clinical intervention are likely to be generated through this research
Prof. Oren SchuldinerMechanisms of neuronal remodeling
Our lab studies the molecular mechanisms that regulate, control and execute developmental neuronal remodelling in Drosophila. Remodelling is essential for sculpting the mature nervous systems of both vertebrates and invertebrates during development and when it is perturbed, we think it is a major cause of psychoneurological conditions such as schizophrenia and autism.
We use Drosophila as a model system to study pruning and regrowth during remodelling and our main approach is developmental genetics. The stereotypy of remodeling in Drosophila as well as the wide range of genetic tools available, make it a unique system to dissect the mechanisms of neuronal remodeling in vivo.
Prof. Eran SegalDeveloping Computational Models for Personalized Medicine
Heads a multi-disciplinary team of computational biologists and experimental scientists working in the area of Computational and Systems biology. Focuses on Nutrition, Genetics, Microbiome, and Gene Regulation and their effect on health and disease. His lab aims to develop personalized nutrition and personalized medicine using machine learning, computational biology, probabilistic modeling, and analysis of heterogeneous high-throughput genomic and clinical data.
Dr. Yonatan StelzerEpigenetics in development and disease
Epigenetic modifications provide cells and organisms with remarkable plasticity. Yet, disentangling the Gordian knot of epigenetic cause and effect still remains a formidable task. Building on the recent developments in single cell genomics, pluripotent stem cells, and genome editing and moving forward, by developing systems for dissection of epigenetic function in-vivo, represents a deep and fundamental challenge our group is determined to engage. Specific interest includes:
- How are cell-specific epigenetic programs established in the early embryo? How do they modulate cell state and function?
- What are the effects of epimutations on development and disease?
- Can environmental factors influence the germline epigenome - potentially affecting subsequent generations?
Dr. Ravid StraussmanThe study of resistance to anti-cancer therapy
We use cutting-edge, high-throughput technologies to study the different mechanisms that render cancer cells resistant to anti-cancer therapy. Our goal is to advance anti-cancer precision medicine for the creation of better treatment options for cancer patients. Topics of interest include:
- Tumor microenvironment-mediated chemoresistance
- The human microbiome and chemoresistance
- Cell autonomous rewiring as a mechanism for chemoresistance
- The study of drug tolerant persisters
- Study of the timing and mechanisms that drive genetic chemoresistance
- Common models: Melanoma, Breast cancer, lung cancer, pancreatic cancer
Dr. Itay TiroshTumor Systems Biology
The Tirosh lab is studying human tumors as a complex ecosystem in which diverse cancer and non-cancer cells interact and collectively determine tumor biology and response to therapies. We leverage single cell technologies, computational approaches and clinical collaborations to identify important tumor subpopulations such as cancer stem cells, drug resistant cells, invasive cells and immune cells that respond to immunotherapies. We then study the function and regulation of these subpopulations in model systems, with the ultimate goal of developing better cancer treatments.
Prof. Eldad TzahorCardiomyocyte cell-cycle control and dedifferentiation
The Tzahor lab focuses on regenerative medicine, with particular relevance to adult heart diseases. Heart disease is the number one cause of death, surpassing the number of deaths from all cancers combined. Its burden on society and healthcare systems is immense. Our lab's inspiring insights into mechanisms of cardiac regeneration have led to fundamental shifts in biomedical knowledge and have positioned us among the top labs in the field of cardiac regeneration. We revealed that, contrary to common belief, latent regeneration machinery can be awakened even in the adult heart (Tzahor 2017, Science).
Current projects demonstrating this notion are briefly summarized below:
- ErbB2-Yap crosstalk in heart regeneration
- Agrin therapy for heart disease
- Regenerative senescence in the heart
- Copaxone as a novel drug for heart disease
- Fibroblasts-Immune cells crosstalk
- Ion channels and mechano-sensory regulation of cardiomyocytes
- Myoblast fusion
Prof. Avri Ben-Ze'evAdhesion-mediated signaling during cancer progression
We study the changes in the mechanisms that regulate the coordination between cell-cell adhesion and signaling during cancer invasion and metastasis. Special emphasis is devoted to the following topics:
- The dual role of beta-catenin in WNT signaling (as co-transcription activator) and as a key mediator of cell-cell adhesion linking adhesion receptors to the cytoskeleton.
- Identification and role of WNT/beta catenin target genes in regulating cell motility, epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT), and cancer cell invasion and metastasis.
- Investigation of genes induced by adhesion-mediated (WNT and others) signaling that are also expressed at increased levels in normal stem cells and during cancer progression. We are studying the role of such genes in both tissue homeostasis and cancer progression.
Prof. Alexander D. Bershadsky
Studies the basic processes of self-organization of the most abundant cellular protein, actin, into filamentous structures that comprise the cytoskeleton, an intracellular network determining cell shape, generating cell motility, and strengthening adhesion of cells to each other and to extracellular matrix. These processes depend on the assembly of the actin filaments mediated by special proteins known as formins, filament movement mediated by molecular motors, myosins, and filament anchorage at the cell adhesion sites. Actin self-organization in the cell is coordinated by diverse signaling molecules, among which small G proteins from the Rho and Arf families and protein tyrosine kinases are also within sphere of interest of the laboratory. The main direction of the recent research focuses on understanding actin cytoskeleton- and adhesion-dependent mechanisms of cell mechanosensitivity, and the establishment of left-right cell asymmetry.
Currently working in collaboration with Mechanobiology Institute, Singapore
Prof. Eli Canaani
Investigates the MLL gene and its protein products, in order to understand their biochemical activities and the mechanism by which they trigger leukemia. Leukemias associated with rearrangement of the MLL gene account for the majority of acute lymphocytic and myelocytic leukemias in infants, and in therapy-related leukemias.
Prof. Zvi Kam
We develop and apply methodologies of Light Microscope Image Acquisition and of Quantitative Analysis to cell biology. Studies with collaborators, to which these methodologies are applied include:
- Dynamic behavior of osteoclasts sealing zone (Left Figure: sealing zone quantification for drug screening, work of Dr. Sarit Batsir).
- Individual and collective cell migration in 2D and 3D environments (Middle Figure: computer analysis of wound-healing essay, work of Yair Elisha and Prof. Benny Geiger)
- Platelets spreading and activation.
- Lamelapodia dynamics.
- Robust algorithm for tracking cells (Right Figure: the NetFlow graph optimization for tracking cells in time-lapse movies, proposed by Prof. Adi Shamir)
Prof. Varda RotterThe role of p53 in maintaining genomic plasticity
- Mutant p53 gain of function
- p53 Loss of Heterozygosity (LOH)
- Role of p53in the life of stem cells
- Role of p53 in the life of cancer stem cells
- p53 in inflammation metabolism
- p53 regulating endocrine loops
- p53 based therapy
Prof. Yehiel ZickCross talk between insulin resistance, animal lectins and bone remodeling
We combine mouse models, cell biology and analysis of signaling pathways to focus on:
- Role of animal lectins (particularly galectin-8) as regulators of bone remodeling and insulin action
- Novel elements (Ndfip1; Otub2, TM7SF3) that modulate survival of pancreatic beta cells
- IRS (insulin receptor substrate) proteins, insulin resistance, and beta cell function
Prof. Abraham Amsterdam
1940 - 2021
Prof. Avraham Amsterdam, known to his friends and colleagues as Avrumi, passed away on 1.1.2021, at the age of 81 years.
Avrumi was born in Haifa. Already as a young child he excelled in music and particularly in playing the piano, and for a number of years he deliberated whether to continue on the track of becoming a professional musician. However, he eventually decided to become a scientist, leaving music as a hobby.
After completing his PhD at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem in 1971, Avrumi went to New York for a post-doc at the Rockefeller University. There, he worked with Prof. James Jamieson and Prof. George Palade, who has been described as "the most influential cell biologist ever", and who in 1974 was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine. Palade was particularly known for the innovative use of electron microscopy in cell biology. Avrumi was able to acquire great expertise in this methodology and applied it extensively in the course of his career as an independent researcher.
Avrumi started his lab at the Weizmann Institute at the end of 1973. While he worked initially on acetylcholine receptors, he rapidly turned his interest to the ovary and particularly to ovarian granulosa cells, an area in which he became a world leader. Among his many achievements, he was the first to establish immortalized granulosa cell lines that retained their differentiated features and have become a key tool in the study of this important class of ovarian cells.
Even after he formally retired and became a professor emeritus, Avrumi continued his research with great passion and dedication, taking his microscopy expertise to a new area: identification of distinct populations of putative cancer-initiating cells in sections from tumors of ovarian cancer and pancreatic cancer.
In parallel with his rich scientific career, Avrumi continued to cultivate his love for music, mainly through voluntary performances to audiences of hospitalized sick children and residents of old people’s homes. Volunteering was always important to him, and he did it with passion that was second only to his passion for science.
During the last years of his life, Avrumi’s health deteriorated seriously. Nevertheless, almost until his last months, he remained enthusiastic about science and cultivated hopes for writing an influential review that would challenge the dogma and introduce new approaches to cancer diagnosis.
His departure is a great loss to his family and friends, to the members of the Department of Molecular Cell Biology and to the scientific community.
Prof. David Yaffe
1929 - 2020
Prof. David Yaffe started his independent career as a researcher at the Weizmann Institute of Science in 1961 , his focus was on the differentiation mechanisms of muscle cells. David quickly became one of the leading scientists in the muscle researchers’ community, especially because of the knowledge he obtained and developed in growing undifferentiated muscle cells (myoblasts), in rat muscle culture, and then mouse muscle culture.
David developed the first model of mammalian cellular differentiation which has permitted many dramatic quantum-jump and paradigm-shift discoveries
The cell line that David and his colleagues developed (C2 cells), that had myogenic capabilities, became the classic research model in the field of muscle cells differentiation (myogenesis) to this day, and contributed to the discovery of molecules involved in this process. David showed that the myoblasts go through a classification process which is irreversible, during which they fuse together, to make muscle fibers.
David, as will attest many of the researchers in the field, has become one of the forefathers of the modern myogenesis field, which held many interfacing characteristics with the field of stem cells, which have many biomedical implications. David also organized a series of conventions in Israel, which turned into EMBO conventions of the developing muscle field, that most of the senior ‘muscle community’ remembers and cherished to this day.
On top of his esteemed scientific work, David was a pioneer, a humble, straight, and generous person, always passionate and inquisitive. His modesty and his love of the kibbutz life and his family, David also loved nature and plants very much, and especially strawberry and fig trees, which he nurtured in his garden at the kibbutz.
He leaves a lasting legacy that flows from his specific science contributions and also from his force of personality.
Prof. Givol David
1929 - 2012
He devoted his career at Weizmann to investigating the tumor suppressor gene p53, the most frequently mutated gene in all cancers, and focused on mechanisms that activate p53 and the way p53 activates target genes, using microarrays. He also studied the effect of p53 on different chemotherapies and the connection between stem cells and cancer, exploring the properties of "cancer stem cells" that are responsible for the propagation of malignant tumors. He isolated such stem cells from leukemia and glioblastoma and compares gene expression profiles of stem and non-stem tumor cells and test differential drug response in these cells.
Prof. Givol passed away on 22/12/2012, and is greatly missed.
Prof. Gad Yagil
1929 - 2009
Prof. Gad Yagil was a physical chemist interested in biology, who combined theory and experimental work. He developed the theoretical concepts underlying enzyme induction and repression and explored the relation between DNA sequences and their unwinding properties. He also applied tools from information theory to analyze the complexity of DNA sequences and other biological systems. He was a kind and collegial scientist who is greatly missed.