Research Department of Genetics and Developmental Biology

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The Genetics of Vision and Hearing Research Laboratory of Assistant Professor Ben-Yosef Tamar. My research focusesScientific research Photo mainly on inherited retinal degenerations (IRD), a heterogeneous group of diseases, which cause visual loss due to the premature death of photoreceptors in the retina. My research combines genetic and functional studies.
I recruit IRD patients and their families, and perform various genetic analyses to identify the genetic cause for disease in each family. Identified mutations are studied at the population level, to identify common founder mutations in certain Israeli ethnic groups.
Identified genes are further studied to characterize their retinal expression pattern and function.

The Laboratory of Tissue Development of Assistant Professor Hasson Peleg. The extracellularresearch picture matrix and the connective tissues that secrete it play cardinal instructive roles, regulating numerous processes in development and regeneration, health and disease. Although many of the matrix’s components have been identified, understanding of how its building blocks are laid and organized and how these properties affect the underlying cells and tissues are still largely unclear. Using mouse genetics and cell-culture based assays, our lab focuses on two major processes which the matrix and connective tissues contribute to: the development and regeneration of the muscles and tendons as well as the development, maturation and remodeling of the blood vasculature.

The Evolutionary Process of Mutation & Natural Selection Research Laboratory of Assistant Professor Hershberg Ruth. Many medically relevant phenomena are in fact evolutionary processes. These include cancer initiation and progression, pathogen emergence and adaptation and the emergence and spread of antibiotic resistance within bacterial populations. In our lab we aim to use evolutionary insights, tools and perspectives, together with cutting edge molecular, genomic and bioinformatics techniques to study such medically relevant evolutionary processes. More specific areas of research include (but are not limited to): (1) What are the antibiotic-independent fitness effects of antibiotic resistance mutations and how do these affect the spread of resistance within natural bacterial populations? (2) Using evolutionary insights and tools to identify cancer driving genes (3) Pathogen evolution via gene loss.

The Cell Clearance Laboratory of Assistant Professor Kurant Estee. Superfluous or damaged Scientific picturecells must be eliminated properly and efficiently in multicellular organisms to allow normal development and tissue homeostasis. This elimination occurs through programmed cell death, specifically apoptosis, and subsequent phagocytosis of dying cells – apoptotic cell clearance. Our research is focused on molecular and cellular mechanisms controlling neuronal cell death and glial phagocytosis of dying neurons during normal embryonic development and tissue remodeling, as well as in aging and neurodegeneration. We use the Drosophila model, which permits comprehensive analysis of cell clearance by using in vivo and in vitro approaches.

The Developmental Genetics Research Laboratory of Associate Professor Salzberg Adi. Scientific pictureOne of the fascinating questions in developmental biology is how different cells, which develop within a given tissue, acquire different properties that allow them to work together as a functional unit. We are using the proprioceptive organs in the peripheral nervous system (PNS) of Drosophila (also called chordotonal organs, ChOs) as a model system for studying cell fate diversification. The fly ChOs, sensory organs that detect motion and position, are composed of linear arrays of lineage-related cells with distinct identities and properties that allow them to work together as a functional organ. Very little is known about the mechanisms regulating the specification of the various ChO cell identities. Through our work on the dei gene we have identified distinct regulatory elements that direct gene expression to specific ChO cell types. We have used these elements to construct a unique transgenic fly strain in which different ChO cell types are labeled with different fluorescent markers. This strain is currently being used to conduct a large-scale, RNAi-based, genetic screen for novel determinants of cell fate specification and morphogenesis in the ChO lineage.

The Laboratory of Developmental Biology and Organogenesis of Associate Professor Schultheiss Tom. Scientific pictureThe Schultheiss lab conducts basic research into how organs are formed during vertebrate embryonic development. We are currently focused on the intermediate mesoderm, a region of the embryo that gives rise to the kidneys, gonads, and hematopoietic system. We aim to understand the environmental signals and the intracellular regulatory factors that control formation of the intermediate mesoderm and its differentiation into these different organs. Our research is conducted primarily in avian embryos and uses a combination of experimental approaches, including in vivo microsurgery, gene manipulation, live imaging, and explant culture.
Although our research focuses primarily on normal embryogenesis, our work has potential applications in the fields of Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine, which aim to develop approaches to grow tissues and organs in the laboratory and to repair and regenerate damaged organs.

The Molecular Medicine Laboratory of Professor Skorecki Karl. The lab comprises a multidisciplinary research team of 14 people organized in five research themes. We are located in the Ruth & Bruce Faculty of Medicine building, of the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, which provides the necessary facilities for conducting high level laboratory research along with proximity to the affiliated teaching hospitals and clinics. Our research extends to varied areas of human molecular genetics and biology. These range from large-scale population genetics projects to the use of human embryonic stem cells in cancer research. In the latter regard, we use the human embryonic stem cell as a novel experimental platform for studying the stromal reaction and influence of the microenvironment on tumorigenesis responses and for pre-clinical testing of anti-cancer therapies. One of the research groups conducts studies of methylation and telomere biology in early human development and disease. An additional focus of our research is to utilize large-scale genome-wide analysis of DNA sequence variation to advance our understanding of population history with a special interest in patterns of genetic disease in African and Near East ancestry. By combining population and family-based disease gene discovery approaches, we have identified a number of genetic variants with major effects on kidney and cardiovascular health, and are currently using proteomics to delineate therapeutic targets.

The Epithelial Stem Cells and Pathophysiology Research Laboratory of Assistant Professor Shalom-Feuerstein Ruby.Scientific picture Our lab explores the molecular events that underlie the morphogenesis, stem cell homeostasis, and pathophysiology of the skin and the cornea. We employ complementary approaches, some of which were uniquely developed in our lab, to investigate these biological processes and develop novel therapies. Among these technologies are induced pluripotent stem cell and adult stem cell cultures, lineage tracing experiments and genetic mouse models, molecular biology, and genome wide analysis.

Laboratory for Mechanobiology of the Cell of Assistant Professor Haguy Wolfenson. Cells are exposed to a variety of signals that control their montagefate. Whereas biomedical studies are mostly focused on biochemical signals, the mechanical features of the microenvironment around cells are as much important in regulating cellular functions such as migration, survival, growth, and differentiation. The studies in the lab are focused on the mechanisms by which cells sense and respond to mechanical features of their environment such as rigidity, topography, or ligand density. We use a combination of advanced microscopy techniques with biophysical measurements to decipher the mechanisms by which extracellular mechanical signals are transmitted into biochemical signals inside the cells and how those in turn affect cellular behavior. We also study how these processes are altered in cancer with the premise that proper mechanosensing is malfunctioning in cancer cells.