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Sphingolipids and Immune Modules in inflammation and Malignancy

Sphingolipids, immune system; obesity; cancer; gene expression, inflammation, natural compounds, Lipidomics

Dr. Dorit Avni

972-4-6955028; 972-54-9815556
Contact Dr. Dorit Avni

Bioactive sphingolipid metabolites, including ceramide, sphingosine and their respective 1-phosphates (C1P and S1P), have gained recognition over the last two decades as key regulators of cellular processes, including cell proliferation, differentiation, apoptosis, and immune responses.

Our laboratory focuses on sphingolipids and the immune system regulation. The aim of our studies is to understand the path in which sphingolipids modulates immune system in inflammation and pro-malignancy process and its influence on tumor-stroma interactions.

 we are interested in:

1.   Sphingolipids as mediators between inflammation and cancer

2.   Discovery of innovative bioactive compounds, based on natural resources such as cannabis, mushrooms and algae that modify inflammatory process, cancer malignancy and immune response.  

Our laboratory specializes in in-vitro, ex-vivo and pre-clinical models





Ph.D. 2010: Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Faculty of Life Sciences. Tel-Aviv University (TAU).

M.Sc. 2000, Faculty of Life Sciences, TAU

B.Sc. 1997, Faculty of Life Sciences, TAU.


Academic and research positions

2018-present, Head of sphingolipids and immune modules in inflammation and malignancy laboratory, MIGAL   

2012-2016, Postdoctoral Fellow at Massey Cancer Center, VCU-MCV, USA.

2011, Postdoctoral Fellow at TAU.

2008-2012, Scientific consultant, Allosterix-pharma Ltd., Yozmot Incubator, Israel.

2003-2004, Research assistant, ImmunoBar Ltd., Weizmann Institute (Rehuvot) Sourasky Tel-Aviv medical center (Tel-Aviv), Israel. Establishment of a new therapy for colon cancer.

2000-2002, Research assistant, Prochon Biotech Ltd., Rehovot, Israel. The research focused on identifying treatments for skeletal diseases and cancer


Honors and awards

2019-2020: Israeli Innovation Authority-KAMIN program award to promote new therapy approaches for atherosclerosis (Co-PI)

2018-2021: Israeli Ministry of Science and Technology award for investigating the role of S1P/SK axis in Fatty liver and liver cancer (PI)

2014-2016: USA Department of Defense (DOD) award for investigating the link between sphingolipids, inflammation, obesity and breast cancer (PI)

2011: FEBS Scholarship for presentation in the 36th congress of the European Biochemical Societies, Torino, Italy.

Selected Publications

Sphingosine-1-phosphate phosphatase 2 promotes disruption of mucosal integrity, and contributes to ulcerative colitis in mice and humans.

The FASEB Journal 2016 Volume 30 Issue 8 Pages 2945-2958 Huang WC, Liang J, Nagahashi M, Avni D, Yamada A, Maceyka M, Wolen AR, Kordula T, Milstien S, Takabe K, Oravecz T, Spiegel S. Read online

The phosphorylated prodrug FTY720 is a histone deacetylase inhibitor that reactivates ERα expression and enhances hormonal therapy for breast cancer.

Oncogenesis 2015 Volume 4 Pages e156 NC Hait, D Avni, A Yamada, M Nagahashi, T Aoyagi, H Aoki, CI Dumur, Z Zelenko, EJ Gallagher, D Leroith, S Milstien, K Takabe and S Spiegel. Read online

Sphingosine-1-phosphate in chronic intestinal inflammation and cancer.

Adv Biol Regul. 2014 Volume 54 Pages 112-120 Nagahashi M, Hait NC, Maceyka M, Avni D, Takabe K, Milstien S, Spiegel S. Read online

Sphingosine-1-phosphate links persistent STAT3 activation, chronic intestinal inflammation, and development of colitis-associated cancer.

Cancer Cell. 2013 Volume 23 Issue 1 Pages 107-120. Liang J, Nagahashi M, Kim EY, Harikumar KB, Yamada A, Huang WC, Hait NC, Allegood JC, Price MM, Avni D, Takabe K, Kordula T, Milstien S, Spiegel S. Read online

The phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K) inhibitor LY294002 modulates cytokine expression in macrophages via p50 nuclear factor κB inhibition, in a PI3K-independent mechanism.

Biochem Pharmacol. 2012 Volume 83 Issue 1 Pages 106-114 Avni D, Glucksam Y, Zor T. Read online

Role of CREB in modulation of TNFalpha and IL-10 expression in LPS-stimulated RAW264.7 macrophages.

Mol Immunol. 2010 Volume 47 Issue 7-8 Pages 1396-1403 Avni D, Ernst O, Philosoph A, Zor T. Read online

The ceramide-1-phosphate analogue PCERA-1 modulates tumour necrosis factor-alpha and interleukin-10 production in macrophages via the cAMP-PKA-CREB pathway in a GTP-dependent manner.

Immunology 2010 Volume 129 Issue 3 Pages 375-385 Avni D, Philosoph A, Meijler MM, Zor T. Read online

Modulation of TNF alpha, IL-10 and IL-12p40 levels by a ceramide-1-phosphate analog, PCERA-1, in vivo and ex vivo in primary macrophages.

Immunol Lett. 2009 Volume 123 Issue 1 Pages 1-8 Avni D, Goldsmith M, Ernst O, Mashiach R, Tuntland T, Meijler MM, Gray NS, Rosen H, Zor T. 24;123(1):1-8. Read online


Post-graduate and post-doctoral research training


Laboratories and research projects


Business opportunities and technology transfer