Rappaport Bio-Medical Prize was awarded to Dr. Eran Elyaniv .
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The Rappaport Prize for Excellence in Medical Research will be awarded in two weeks to Prof. Hermona Soreq of the Hebrew University and Dr.Eran Elinav of the Weizmann Institute of Science.
The more senior Soreq will receive her $60,000 prize for her research on the neurotransmitter acetylcholine’s role in both health and disease in the brain and other organs.
In her more than 35 years of research, she has been able to combine the fields of genomics, population genetics, molecular biology, biomedicine and basic neuroscience to contribute fundamental insights to the field of neurobiology.
Elinav will get his $40,000 prize for research on the interplay between the gut microorganisms and their human host in health and disease.
The focal point of his research is the microbes that populate the human gut, the gut microbiota and their interplay with the human host. This complex microbial ecosystem resides within our bodies from birth until death and has been recently highlighted to have fundamental importance in many aspects of our physiology and in human susceptibility to common multifactorial disorders.
Elinav has also shown that the gut microbiome features a circadian rhythmicity in composition and function.
Humans with altered circadian rhythms such as shift workers lose this microbial rhythmicity and normal gut microbiome composition, resulting in a susceptibility to obesity and glucose intolerance.
Another factor discovered by Elinav to modulate the composition and function of the gut microbiome is artificial sweeteners, consumed by billions of people worldwide for the prevention of obesity and diabetes. Consumption of these artificial sweeteners can in fact promote glucose intolerance in mice and in some subsets of humans.
The prizes will be presented to them at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art on March 15.
The prize was established by the Rappaport family – Ruth and her late husband, Bruce – to promote visionary, groundbreaking and innovative research with therapeutic ramifications that can significantly promote human health.
For over three decades, the family has donated tens of millions of dollars to the Faculty of Medicine named in their honor at Haifa’s Technion-Israel Institute of Technology. In addition, the Rappaport Family Trust provides funding to Haifa’s Rappaport Institute for Biomedical Research, the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra and numerous other health and cultural institutions.
“It is important to the family and to the Rappaport Trust to honor researchers who made groundbreaking breakthroughs that lead to the cure of many maladies,” said Ruth Rappaport this week. “As successors of my husband, Bruce Rappaport, we see in medical research the ability to connect dreams and reality, to make current problems solvable, thus improving the lives of millions.”