We develop new genes for the immunotherapy of human diseases. In the late 80's, together with Z. Eshhar at the Weizmann Institute of Science, I created the first chimeric antigen receptors (CARs), demonstrating that it is possible to genetically redirect T cell specificity at will. In the past several years anti-tumor CARs produce excellent clinical results. In Dec. 2013 Science magazine selected the field of cancer immunotherapy and CARs as 'Breakthrough of the year'. Undoubtedly, the use of genes for immunotherapy has gained great appreciation in recent years.
We have created genes for boosting the tumor-killing ability of T cells employed in different approaches for cancer therapy, such as CARs and tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs). Indeed, in all experiments we performed so far these genetic adjuvants exerted multiple effects of exceptional magnitude on human T cells, including anti-melanoma TILs.
Redirecting T cell specificity at will through genetic engineering is the theme of additional two studies in our lab. In autoimmune, or type 1 diabetes (T1D) we selectively immunotarget pathogenic T cells, obtaining good results in a mouse model for the disease. In inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) we aim at reprogramming 'regulatory' T cells to act selectively at the inflamed gut tissue and suppress the ongoing immune response.
In the field of cancer vaccines we take advantage of a new genetic platform we created which allows the robust priming of anti-tumor T cells into becoming potent killers of tumor cells. Studying two mouse model systems for melanoma we recently demonstrated that our vaccines confer tumor protection and lead to tumor regression.
In a more 'basic science' orientation we are exploring the contribution of a fundamental quality control process functioning in all cells of our body to the immunological identity of the cells.
Ph.D. 1990, Chemical Immunology, Weizmann Institute of Science
M.Sc. 1986, Chemical Immunology, Weizmann Institute of Science
Academic and research experience
1991: research fellow, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Maryland, USA.
1991-1993: post-doctoral fellow, the Laboratory of Molecular Biology of the Medical Research Council (MRC), Cambridge, UK.
1993-1995: MIGAL, research associate
1995-present: MIGAL, Head of the Immunology Lab
1995-present: faculty member, Tel-Hai College
2003: research associate, Stanford University School of Medicine
2009: associate professor in life sciences, Tel Hai College
2005-2010: Head of the Biotechnology Dept., Tel Hai College
2010-2014: Dean of the Faculty of Sciences & Technology ,Tel Hai College
Honors and awards
Genetic reprogramming of T cells for targeted delivery of new therapeutics to the tumor site, German-Israeli Foundation for Scientific Research & Development (GIF)
Genetically-modified T cells for the protection of regenerated β-cells in type 1 diabetes, BIRAX (The Britain Israeli Research and Academic Exchange Partnership Regenerative Medicine Initiative)
Enhancing T cell reactivity in adoptive cell therapy of cancer ICA (Israel Cancer Association)
New genes for improving adoptive cell therapy of melanoma with tumor infiltrating lymphocytes, ISF (Israel Science Foundation)
Selective immunotargeting of pathogenic CD8 T cells of type 1 diabetes patients by genetically engineered autologous T cells Adm. for Biomedical Research in the Galilee
Redirecting regulatory T cells against diabetogenic T cells, ISF-JDRF (Juvenile)