No one is immune to the effects of the world’s most pressing medical challenges. And none of these challenges are immune to the brilliance and dedication of IMRIC’s researchers. Get to know them a little better by checking out their bios.
My interest in Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry first peaked in high school due to excellent teachers. Since I excelled in these courses, I decided to pursue this field at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in the Faculty of Science.
At first, I focused on math and physics, but eventually I emphasized my research in the field of chemistry resulting in my PhD in Biochemistry at the Hebrew University's Faculty of Medicine. It was during this time that I had a very inspirational mentor, Prof. Yaakov Mager, who was an superb scientist and teacher. Prof. Mager recommended that I go to Caltech for my postdoctoral training in DNA metabolism.
I fulfilled my postdoctoral goal in the lab of Prof. Robert Sinsheimer. It was in this lab that I became interested in DNA methylation research, the scientific field that I have pursued for the last four decades. For the past 30 years I have collaborated with IMRIC Prof. Howard Cedar in DNA methylation investigations. Together, we planted the first seed in this research field and discovered that DNA methylation regulates gene activity. This breakthrough led to a new field of study in biology – Epigenetics. I am most proud of this scientific achievement and the future potential that it holds for medical science. Epigenetics is now a central phenomenon in biology that is involved in the development and normal function of the cell and genetic diseases.
Metastasis, the spread of cancer from its tissue of origin and its subsequent growth in other organs is main cause of morbidity and mortality in patients with cancer. The process of metastasis was so intriguing to me and important for the treatment of cancer patients, that it was natural for me that my lab at the Hebrew University that I established after my postdoctoral training investigates this process.
To migrate, cells need to operate a dynamic cytoskeleton composed of many proteins to produce the necessary protrusions and forces that drive the cell forward. In cancer cells the dynamics and regulation of the cytoskeleton is corrupted at several levels. My lab investigates the alterations in the cytoskeletal proteins in tumor cells and how these alterations allow tumor cells to invade tissues surrounding the original tumor.
Recently we discovered that the tumor suppressor protein Lgl1 that its low expression in tumor cells correlates with poor prognosis plays a major role in directed cell migration. The absence of Lgl1 results in fast migrating tumor cells (Dahan et al. (2012), Mol. Biol. Cell. 23: 591-601).