Leitner Yael

Research topic:

Neurodevelopmental outcome of at-risk newborns/children


Liat Ben-Sira (Beinart)

Research topic:

  • Fetal M.R.I.
  • Brain malformation-neuro-development follow-up

Joint projects with other Faculty members in the Sagol School of Neuroscience:

  • Prof. Dafna Ben-Bashat
  • Prof. Yaniv Assaf

Barak Boaz

Research topic:

  • Neurobiology of genetic neurodevelopmental disorders such as Williams syndrome and autism spectrum disorders.
  • Dissecting neural circuits and brain regions’ roles in anxiety-like and social behavior.
  • Therapeutic approaches to improve behavioral abnormalities in mouse models for psychiatric disorders.

Research  methods:

  • Molecular and cellular biology
  • In vivo optogenetics and pharmacogenetics
  • Behavioral tests
  • Stereotaxic surgical techniques for gene delivery
  • Nucleic acid methods
  • Transgenic and conditional knockout mouse models
  • Histology and microscopy
  • In vitro cell-based assays

Projects in the lab include:

  • In vivo optogenetic manipulation of social behavior abnormalities in mouse models for psychiatric disorders
  • Gene-rescue treatments to restore behavior and physiology in mouse models for psychiatric disorders
  • Defining the postnatal developmental and functional roles of genes in mouse models for psychiatric disorders
  • Pharmacological and pharmacogenetical studies to treat psychiatric disorders
  • Neuron-glia interactions and their role in the pathophysiology of psychiatric disorders
  • Production and characterization of novel mouse models for genetic neuropsychiatric disorders

Tamara Shiner

Research topic: Lewy body dementia (DLB) and relationship to mutations in the GBA (glucocerebrosidase) gene, Identification of early markers of neurodegeneration among first degree relatives of patients with Lewy body dementia.

Main projects in the lab include:

  1. Clinical, genetic and neuropsychological assesment of patients with Lewy body dementia and their first degree relatives.
  2. Functional and structural imaging of patients and first degree relatives of patients with Lewy body dementia.

Ast Gil

Research topic:

  • Familial Dysautonomia (FD) is a neurodegenerative disease
  • Developing new drugs to treat FD

Research  methods:

  • Generating transgenic mouse for FD
  • Drug development
  • Molecular pathways leading to neuro-degeneration

Projects in the lab include:

  • How PS (and other drugs) resulted in recovery of axonal outgrowth and enhanced retrograde axonal transport
  • Developing novel methods to deliver drugs to the brain
  • Identify the molecular pathway that leads to neurodegeneration in FD

Joint projects with other Faculty members in the Sagol School of Neuroscience:

  • Prof. Eran Perlson

Elkon Rani

Research topic:

Our research focuses on understanding mechanisms of gene regulation. We aim at elucidating, using bioinofrmatic methods and analysis of various omic datasets, how gene expression is regulated at the layers of transcription, stability and translation, and at discovering how interruptions in these regulatory mechanisms contribute to the development of human pathological conditions.

Research methods: Bioinformatics; systems biology; omics data obtained by various deep-sequencing techniques

Projects in the lab include:

  1. Elucidate mechanisms that regulate gene expression at the layers of transcription, transcript stability and protein translation.
  2. Identify key regulatory modules that dictate cell fate in the CNS.
  3. Elucidate the effect of genetic risk variants for brain diseases on gene regulation

Moshaiov Amiram

Research topic: Computer-supported assessments of biological systems including aspects such as: adaptation (evolution, development, life-long learning), behavior, and cognition

Research methods: Computational intelligence methods such as evolutionary computation, artificial neural-networks, fuzzy logic, and their hybridizations.

Main Projects in the lab include:

  1. Neuro-fuzzy Inferencing about Natural Systems – The development of a novel adaptive-neuro-fuzzy inference method for understanding the behavior of biological systems. In collaboration with Prof. Amir Ayali, we have already shown the effectiveness of this generic approach for the case of a marching locust in a swarm.
  2. Multi-payoff Games – In the past utility-based game theory has been used for the understanding of natural systems. In collaboration with Dr. G. Avigad and others, we have developed a non-utility based approach to multi-payoff games (games involving conflicting objectives for each player). We postulate that our recent achievements in defining rationalizable strategies in such games may lead to some new developments in understanding natural systems.
  3. Computational Neuroevolution – We have developed several unique approaches to artificially evolve neural-networks. For example, we suggested a unique algorithm for multi-objective topology and weight evolution of recurrent neural networks. While developed for robotics, we suggest that it may be used for understanding natural systems. Note: The postulations in item 2 and 3 are in accordance with our theory of multi- competence cybernetics. Initial presentation of this theory can be found in: Moshaiov, A. “Multi-competence Cybernetics: The Study of Multi-objective Artificial Systems and Multi- fitness Natural Systems.” In Multiobjective Problem Solving from Nature. Springer Berlin Heidelberg, pp. 285-304, 2008.

Inzelberg Rivka

Research topic: Movement disorders, Parkinson’s disease, Dementia, Genetics of Parkinson’s disease, Motor control

Research methods: Clinical research on brain disorders, Epidemiology, Motion analysis

Projects in the lab include:

  1. Melanoma and Parkinson’s disease
  2. Motor control and hand movements in Parkinson’s disease
  3. Genetic forms of Parkinson’s disease

Ashery-Padan Ruth

Research topic: We focus on understanding the molecular mechanisms that control the development of the visual system in mammals. Specifically we investigate the mechanisms that regulate cell-fate decisions, normal differentiation and survival of retinal neurons. Our studies are important for understanding the development of the eye and disease conditions that lead to vision loss.

Research methods: Transgenic mice; confocal microscopy; deep sequencing; retinal cultures; functional studies of genes in vivo and in cultures; analysis of promoter structure and activity, DNA microarrays.

Main projects in the lab include:

  1. Study of gene networks controlling cell-fate decisions in retinal neurogenesis
  2. Study function of transcription factors and micro-RNA in specific retinal neurons
  3. Investigating the development of ocular structures that are essential for normal vision; lens, cornea and the pigmented cell types of the eye

Ben-Yosef Dalit

Research topic: The lab focuses on studying issues related to early embryonic and developmental processes, genetic disorders and different aspects of cell therapy using our unique collection of PGD-derived human embryonic stem cells (hESCs).

Research methods: The Wolfe PGD-Stem Cell Lab focuses on studying issues related to early embryonic and developmental processes, genetic disorders and different aspects of cell therapy using our unique collection of PGD-derived human embryonic stem cells (hESCs). We derive human hESCs directly from affected embryos, following preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD). PGD is performed for couples at high risk of transmitting a genetic defect to ensure the birth of a healthy baby. Following in vitro fertilization and PGD, the affected embryos that are normally discarded are used to establish hESC lines carrying the genetic disease. These cells are now a valuable tool for studying the pathophysiology of these diseases in humans. See list of projects in our website. One of our major projects involves studying Fragile X syndrome (FXS) – the most common form of inherited intellectual disability. Using FXS affected hESCs we gained novel insight into the molecular mechanisms responsible for the development of FXS (Eiges et al., and Ben-Yosef, Cell Stem Cell 2007). We showed that the CGG expansion alone is not sufficient for FMR1 gene silencing. Following the course of differentiation of these cells into functional neurons we could further identify aberrant molecular functions and cell fate decisions that may underlie the disease (Telias et al 2013). We are now studying the molecular and cellular mechanisms by which FMR1 inactivation impairs neurogenesis, leading to the characteristic FXS phenotype of cognitive impairment. This will enable the identification of new therapeutic targets for FXS, whereupon our human FXS neurons can also be used as a reliable in-vitro drug screening platform.

Techniques used in our lab: in vitro neural differentiation of human embryonic stem cells, CRISPR/Cas9 genome engineering, next generation sequencing, direct cell fate conversion, advanced cloning and molecular biology techniques.