Doctoral/Postdoctoral Studies

The Azrieli Faculty of Medicine's principal researchers are always looking for postdoctoral as well as doctoral students.

For general information about the postdoctoral process, click here.

Below are research groups. 


PI's name

Research scope + link to group's website

Brief research description

Prof. Michael Blank


Molecular and Cellular Cancer Biology 

The laboratory investigates the molecular processes operating in and leading to generation of cancer cells (the process is known as a carcinogenesis), cancer progression, as well as mechanisms underlying the ability of tumor cells “to escape” the destructive impact of anticancer therapies used in clinics. In particular, we study the role that Smurf2, a HECT type E3 ubiquitin ligase and recently identified tumor suppressor (Blank et al. Nature Med 2012; Zou et al. BBA-Rev Cancer 2015; Emanuelli et al. Cancer Res 2017), plays in the ability of cancer cells to replicate, metastasize and hinder the effects of anticancer therapies. The research program addresses key questions in cancer biology: What are the fundamental molecular mechanisms operating in cancer? How are they regulated? How do they affect tumor cell sensitivity to anticancer therapies? And, most importantly, how can we target cancer-related molecular networks to cure this devastating disease. 

Dr. Milana Frenkel-Morgenstern


Experimental Systems Biology and Bioinformatics

The research in the cancer genomics and BioComputing lab focuses on the following topics:  Liquid biopsy of low burden tumors using circulating cell-free DNA;

Chimeric Protein-Protein Interactions (ChiPPI) analysis and their role in altering cancer-specific phenotypes;

Pan-Cancer data analysis to study the similarities and differences across diverse tumor types;

Liquid Biopsy using cell free DNA in Glioblastoma.

Comparative genomics and protein domain evolution;

Codon-usage analysis and cell-cycle regulation;

Analysis of miRNA sequences for evolutionary differences.

Prof. Meital Gal-Tanamy


Molecular Virology

Our Lab leads a research that will contribute to the rational vaccine design against HCV through exploring the antibody response to this infectious agent. We implement a comprehensive study that will fill the critically important gap in technology and knowledge related to the mechanisms of antibody-mediated neutralization of HCV. An important focus of this study will be to translate this information to characterize the envelope structure of the virus and to develop new vaccine strategies. In another line of research we aim to contribute to understanding the pathogenesis of HCV infection and its effect on the mechanisms leading to hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). We study the dynamic evolutionary balance between the viral modulations of epigenetic changes of chromatin, the HCC-borne mutations, the viral genome and immune system. We also explore the processes that drives HCV infected hepatocytes towards becoming invasive and metastatic.

Prof. Meir Shamay


Viral Oncology and Genetics

The research interests in the lab are to study the functional interactions between viral proteins and the cellular machinery, which control both the viral life cycle and tumorigenesis. The viruses we study are the human gamma herpes viruses; Kaposi’s sarcoma associated herpesvirus (KSHV, HHV-8) and Epstein-Barr virus (EBV, HHV-4) that are associated with increasing number of human malignancies. The goal of our lab is to expand our knowledge on viral infections, and to utilize this knowledge for the development and use of drugs that specifically target virally infected cells.

Structural Biology and Drug Design

PI's name

Research scope + link to group's website

Brief research description

Dr. Avraham Samson


Drug Discovery and Design

Development of computational tools for drug design 
To assist drug design, we are developing computational tools to predict ligand binding sites. In the past, we developed a structure based program using normal mode accompanied exposure changes to predict ligand binding sites with 90% accuracy. As one would expect we are currently attempting to increase the accuracy to 100%. In addition, we are developing ligand optimization programs based on local motion in the binding site. In particular, we are optimizing drugs which bind to acetylcholine receptors, and acetylcholine esterases, and improve concentration in patients with Alzheimer's and dementia. 
Calculation of biomolecular motion and correlation with biological activity 
To capture the motion involved in biological mechanisms, we are developing computational tools using molecular dynamics and normal modes. With these tools, we were able to calculate the motion associated with channel opening of the acetylcholine receptor, and show how this motion is inhibited by binding of snake toxin. In addition, we could calculate the conformational change exhibited by prion proteins and show the infection propagation in the mad cow disease. We are currently calculating motion of various biomolecules such as HIV glycoproteins, enzymes, receptors, channels, and the ribosome to explain biological activity. 
Development of novel therapies for Alzheimer's disease 
To develop viable therapies for Alzheimer's disease, we are testing promising drug candidates such as arginase inhibitors. First, we administer the drug candidates in mice suffering from Alzheimer's disease. Then, we test their effect on memory and learning, using behavioral experiments such as Morris water maze, and fear conditioning. Finally, we test their effect on brain morphology, using immunohistological tools. If a drug candidate improves memory and learning, and it also reduces inflammation and amyloidosis, then we move on to clinical trials in human patients suffering from Alzheimer's disease. 

Dr. Nir Qvit


Chemistry and Biology of Protein-Protein Interactions for Drug Discovery

Protein–protein interactions represent a significant proportion of functionally relevant biological interactions, and therefore manipulating these interactions is an important therapeutic strategy. The main focus of the Qvit lab is the identification of molecularmodulators of protein-protein interaction using bioinformatics analysis, peptide and protein chemistry, and system-wide biological assays. Our goal is the development of compounds capable of modulating protein complexes that will allow better understanding of the role of specific protein-protein interactions in cells and will be a starting point for the development of therapeutic compounds.

Dr. Ronit Ilouz


Molecular and Cellular Mechanisms of Neurological Diseases

The project idea is to translate the genomic data into a three dimensional structure to enable a better understanding of the molecular and cellular mechanisms, and then to control it with a specific and precise drug targeting therapy based on the SNP mutation. Aberrant Protein Kinase A (PKA) localization has been linked to a Parkinson disease. The diagnosed patients have Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNPs) in the PKA_ RIβ gene. The lab is integrating various methods including X-ray crystallography and advanced microscopy techniques as well as molecular biology, biochemistry and signal transduction. Elucidating the cellular and the molecular interactions that are properly controlled by PKA signaling and are dysregulated in the neurodegenerative disease will help discover opportunities and challenges toward personalized medicine.

Dr. Moshe Dessau


Structural Biology of Infectious Diseases

In our lab we use structural and biophysical approaches for studying the organization and dynamics of macromolecular assemblies. Our research focuses on determining how protein structure and interactions guide the principles and mechanisms of viral and parasitic infection. Our main emphasis is on third-world and poverty related emerging pathogens. These neglected diseases are growing concern in many developing countries as well as in the rest of the world. Nevertheless, their prevalence throughout the world is yet to be reflected in research agenda and resources allocation. Thus, developing communities face vast obstacles in fighting these pathogens that induce illnesses with high mortality rates.

We generally interested in two different systems:

(1) How do viruses assemble and how do they enter the cells they infect? Can we exploit our structural understanding of viral entry with progressive methods in biophysics and cell biology to develop novel strategies for vaccine design?

(2) What are the unique structural features of eukaryotic parasites? How can we exploit structural investigation of unique biological processes in eukaryotic parasites to design novel therapeutics?

Dr. Ron Orbach


Biochemistry of the cilia

Our lab is fascinated by self-assembly and dynamic behavior of the microtubule cytoskeleton. We are especially interested in the ciliary cytoskeleton, known as the axoneme. Using cutting-edge microscopy techniques, advanced biochemistry, quantitative image analysis and various multidisciplinary approaches we aim to answer basic questions related to the cilia.

Developmental Biology, Regenerative Medicine, and Aging

PI's name

Research scope + link to group's website

Brief research description

Prof. David Karasik


Genetics of Musculoskeletal Aging and Disease

The Lab’s research focuses on the heritable musculoskeletal disorders of aging, such as osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, kidney failure, muscle loss (sarcopenia), and fatty infiltration of muscle and liver. Our search for genes underlying variation in risk of these common diseases, which began with the genome-wide association studies (GWAS) in human populations, is reinforced by validation using functional experiments in animal models (zebrafish) and mammal cells, based on homology between the species and evolutionary theory. We use bioinformatics tools and CRISPR-Cas9 technology for gene modifications and histology, RNA-Seq, western blot for protein and microCT imaging for musculoskeletal phenotyping.

Dr. Ron Piran


Regenerative Medicine and Diabetes

Our lab is developing methods for pancreatic beta-cell regeneration as an approach to treat diabetes. Our goal is to replenish the beta-cell population in diabetic patients. Our strategy is to use drugs to convert neighboring alpha-cells into beta-cells in order to step up insulin production. We were successful using this approach in mice. Our efforts are directed towards increasing the conversion rate from alpha- to beta-cells in different diabetic models, with our growing knowledge of how the PAR2 receptor mediates this process. We are also attempting to stabilize the newly formed beta-cells by preventing their continued transdifferentiation into delta-cells.

Regenerative medicine is not limited to beta-cells, and our findings are therefore relevant to other fields where regeneration therapy is needed. So far, our discoveries have been shown to have implications for the treatment of hepatitis and limb amputations.

Dr. Moran Yadid


Regenerative Bioengineering

In our lab we use organs-on-chips, which are advanced in vitro models based on human cells, to study organ-organ interactions in health and disease.

We use tissue engineering and stem cells technology to build the components of the cardiovascular system, allowing us to study the roles of the endothelium in regulating tissues function under various conditions.

We study extracellular vesicles (EVs) and how they modulate cells and tissues' response to stress (e.g. Ischemia and reperfusion injury), with the goal of developing novel bio-inspired therapeutics.

Our lab is multidisciplinary and we employ engineering, biology and material sciences to study human physiology.and to develop new approaches for regenerative medicine.

The Microbiome

PI's name

Research scope + link to group's website

Brief research description

Prof. Omry Koren


The Microbiome in Health and Disease

Our research focuses on the microbiome, studying the roles of the trillions of bacteria that reside within each individual. We have a wide variety of research interests including interactions between microbiota and the host endocrine system, host behavior, and host development, in health and in disease states.

Dr. Shai Bel


Microbiome and Inflammatory Bowel Disease

The human gut is colonized by trillions of microbes, known as The Microbiome. So how is it that most of us do not suffer from constant infections? Moreover, these microbes assist us in many complex functions of our bodies. The Bel Lab investigates how this complex relationship is sustained and why it breaks down in diseases such as Crohn’s disease and Ulcerative Colitis.



Genetics, Chromatin Structure and Nuclear Organization

PI's name

Research scope + link to group's website

Brief research description

Prof. Itay Onn


Chromosome Instability and Dynamics

Three dimensional organizations have been identified as a highly important property of chromatin that ensures genome dynamics and integrity. Chromatin organization largely depends on protein complexes of the Structural Maintenance of Chromosome (SMC) family. However, the molecular basis of their activity is still elusive. In order to elucidate the mechanism by which SMC complexes organize chromatin,we use yeast as a model system and apply a multidisciplinary experimental approach that includes genetics, biochemistry, molecular and cellular biology, as well as advanced microscopy techniques. Research in the Chromosome Instability and Dynamics lab provides new insights into some of the most fundamental processes in cells and elucidates the impact of SMC complexes on human health.     

Dr. Yaakov (Kobi) Maman

Genomic Instability and Cancer

Our lab combines sensitive, high-throughput, genomic assays, and computational modeling, in order to crack the genomic code that drives genome instability in different cell-types, pathologies and conditions, and to grasp the landscape of DNA lesions in cancer.

We are particularly interested in the “double-edged swords” of the genome – physiological mechanisms that impose a threat on genome integrity, such as those involve in the formation of the immune repertoire, or the relief of DNA torsional stress. We investigate how these processes are targeted across the genome, how they are controlled, and what makes certain genomic sites more vulnerable than others to the “off-target” activity of these processes. Understanding this natural fragility of the genome will enable us to predict oncogenic events and to mark targets for cancer diagnosis and therapy

Prof. Orly Avni

Regulation of Gene Expression in Immune System, Health and Disease



The function of the immune system in health and disease

The immune system distinguishes between self and non-self but also between different types of non-self such as viruses and worms. T helper (Th) cells (CD4+) have a fundamental role in that challenge; following their first interaction with an antigen, Th cells can differentiate into regulatory or effector lineages possessing characteristic transcriptional programs. Since immunological diseases such as autoimmunity and allergy are associated with aberrant differentiation of Th cells, elucidation of the epigenetic regulation of these cells can facilitate the development of novel therapies. We also study the interaction of the immune system with the microbiota and parasites, as well as its function under social stress and congenital deficiencies.


PI's name

Research scope + link to group's website

Brief research description

Prof. Evan Elliott


Molecular Neuroscience of Neurodevelopment and Autism Spectrum Disorders

The laboratory of neuroscience uses state of the art techniques to study neurodevelopmental disorders including autism spectrum disorders. Our main goals include to understand the biological mechanisms involved in autism spectrum disorders and to understand how epigenetic mechanisms affect behavior and neurodevelopment. Multiple techniques are used, including molecular techniques, whole throughput sequencing, and animal behavioral phenotyping. We also use human tissue samples, including brain samples, to compare to our findings in animal models of autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders.


Population Health, Public Health, Epidemiology 


PI's name

Research scope + link to group's website

Brief research description

Dr. Keren Agay-Shay


Environmental Epidemiology

Epidemiology is the branch of medical research that studies the causes of adverse health outcomes in populations. Environmental epidemiology is an interdisciplinary field and our research interests are in understanding the links between exposures to the external ambient environment ("exposome") and health outcomes mainly adverse pregnancy outcomes, psychological and physiological child and adults health. Green spaces and green walls and nature in generally are examples of positive external exposures whereas outdoor exposures to air pollution or extreme temperatures (high and low) can have adverse effects on health. The research focus is to evaluate the associations (in observational studies) and effects (in semi-experimental studies) between these ambient exposures and health generally and within the context of global climate change. By using novel statistical tools and innovative epidemiological approaches.

Prof. Michael Edelstein Public Health and Epidemiology

Public health, epidemiology, infectious diseases, vaccines, health inequities, health service implementation and evaluation, digital health

Dr. Sivan Spitzer


Health Inequities & Implementation Science

For over thirty years studies have documented health care disparities but little has progressed in effectively closing the gap. In HEAL (Health Equity Advancement Lab) we aim to design, implement, and evaluate strategies aimed at reducing inequities in health and health care.

Using implementation science and organizational change frameworks and theories, our research projects focus on translation of equity from value to action through complex organization-wide change efforts in both community and hospital settings in a wide range of health and healthcare topics including chronic disease management, integration of care and precision medicine.


Human Behavior

PI's name Research scope + link to group's website Brief research description

Dr. Rotem Kahalon


Social psychology and health

Focusing on the intersection between social psychology and health, we focus on identifying the social psychological mechanisms that contribute to disparities in health, mental health, and well-being, and finding ways to overcome them.

Broadly speaking, we are studying:
• The social psychological processes involved in creating and maintaining health inequalities and disparities.
• The role of sex, gender, and sexual orientation in health and mental health
• The effects of dehumanization and objectification on people’s mental, physical, and sexual health.


Human Neuroscience

PI's name

Research scope + link to group's website

Brief research description

Dr. Hanna Keren


Computational study of human psychopathology and mood

The research of the lab focuses on developing computational and engineering methodologies to measure, study and control human behavior and mood. We aim to integrate measurements of brain and physiological signals with adaptive dynamic and virtual environments. This would enable us to create artificial control of human mood and behavior via human-machine-interfaces, towards the goal of understanding human dynamics in complex environments, in health and in psychopathology. 

Dr. Liron Rozenkrantz

Neurophysiology of conceptions, beliefs and expectations

Evidence from neuroscience, psychology, bio-medicine and even economics - all converge to support a real, neurophysiological effect of our beliefs and expectations on our health and well-being. The most famous example of that is the placebo effect. 

In our lab, we strive to go further - and understand how our beliefs play a role in daily well-being. A few examples include: how health-related beliefs affect disease progression; how expectations about treatments influence treatment efficacy; and how conceptions about bodily functions impact the cross-talk between the brain and related physiological systems. 

We aim to understand the mechanisms by which beliefs exert their effects - and then harness them to generate interventions to improve health and well-being. For more information - visit our website and contact us!