Two leading researchers awarded major grants for groundbreaking research.
(photo credit: PIOTR FLITR FOR RAMBAM)
Two outstanding biologists – one from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and one from Haifa’s Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, whose work is expected to promote major advances in medicine – have been chosen to receive $100,000 annual grants for five years in order to pursue their research.
The recipients, Prof. Yuval Dor of Hebrew University and Prof. Roy Kishoni of Technion, were honored at the third scientific conference of the Ernest and Bonnie Beutler Research Program of Excellence in Genomic Medicine, which was held recently at Rambam Medical Center in Haifa.
Dor and his Hebrew University colleagues have identified the key signal that prompts production of insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas, a breakthrough discovery that might ultimately help researchers find ways to restore or increase beta cell function in people with type 1 diabetes.
Kishoni’s lab is studying microbial evolution, with a specific focus on antibiotic resistance. Researchers there have combined novel experimental technologies with mathematical modeling and advanced data analysis and have ventured into clinical studies aimed at understanding how bacterial pathogens evolve within the human body during infection.
The symposium was also attended by Nobel laureate Prof. Bruce Beutler, an American immunologist and geneticist who split the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with Jules Hoffmann for “their discoveries concerning the activation of innate immunity.” Beutler is currently director of the Center for the Genetics of Host Defense at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.
The Beutler Symposium is held every two years, at which research from the prestigious program is presented. It was launched by Bonnie Beutler in 2013, in memory of her husband Prof. Ernest Beutler, who died in 2008 and was one of the 20th century’s leading hematology researchers. The Beutler program is managed and administered by Rambam to support and encourage high-level genomic and biomedical research by Israeli researchers and scientists.
Bruce Beutler’s lecture focused on the most recent findings of his group in Texas. Their research is directly applicable to the human genome and has already uncovered several previously unknown genetic mutations that can negatively affect immunity. Their discoveries could provide a valuable key into discovering the cause of the many and varied allergies now being diagnosed.
Since its establishment, seven Israeli researchers have received this prestigious award of excellence, including: Prof. Karl Skorecki, director of medical and research development at Rambam; Prof. Gideon Rechavi, head of the Sheba Medical’s Cancer Research Center and Pediatric Hematology-Oncology Center; and Prof. Tsvee Lapidot, Prof. Yair Reisner and Dr. Ido Amit, from the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot.
Each Beutler awardee presented a summary of his findings over the past year. Their presentations dovetailed into a powerful picture of the potential for genomic medicine to change the face of medical care. The awardees’ findings demonstrated how even the smallest mutation at the single cell level can lead to a fatal disease. Their work will lay a foundation for developing new and more effective diagnostics and therapies for a variety of conditions ranging from diabetes and kidney disease to myeloma and leukemia.