Dr. Dorit Avni

Research Interests:

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, natural-based bioactive compounds and the immune system regulation. The aim of our studies is to understand the path in which sphingolipids and natural-based bioactive compounds modulate the 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- can sphingolipids shape the immune response?   sphingolipids as a link between obesity, inflammation and cancer

2. Identifying the pathways that are involved in metastasis formation- how do sphingolipids and inflammatory mediators drive metastatic niche

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

4. The use of nutritional and natural compounds as prevention or treatment for human disease

Our research comprises of both basic and translational programs focused on chronic inflammation and cancer underlying unmet diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease, metabolic diseases, and cancer. In particular, we study the role of the immune system and sphingolipids. 

Our laboratory specializes in in-vitro, ex-vivo and pre-clinical models and we take a transdisciplinary approach in our research using immunologic, genomic,  and metabolomic approaches to study our open questions.

We strive to understand the mechanisms of  inflammation and cancer  that underlie the involvement of sphingolipids  and to translate these laboratory discoveries into new therapies




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

Awards and Honors
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.
2020: accelerator program to investigate the effect of green quinoa extract on inflammatory process

Scientific Publications

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

Huang WC, Liang J, Nagahashi M, Avni D, Yamada A, Maceyka M, Wolen AR, Kordula T, Milstien S, Takabe K, Oravecz T, Spiegel S.

Exogenous ceramide-1-phosphate (C1P) and phospho-ceramide analogue-1 (PCERA-1) regulate key macrophage activities via distinct receptors. Immunol Lett

Katz S, Ernst O, Avni D, Athamna M, Philosoph A, Arana L, Ouro A, Hoeferlin LA, Meijler MM, Chalfant CE, Gómez-Muñoz

Aberrant ORM (yeast)-like protein isoform 3 (ORMDL3) expression dysregulates ceramide homeostasis in cells and ceramide exacerbates allergic asthma in mice. J Allergy Clin Immunol

Oyeniran C, Sturgill JL, Hait NC, Huang WC, Avni D, Maceyka M, Newton J, Allegood JC, Montpetit A, Conrad DH, Milstien S, Spiegel S

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

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

Role of sphingosine kinase 1 and sphingosine-1-phosphate in CD40 signaling and IgE class switching. FASEB J

Kim EY, Sturgill JL, Hait NC, Avni D, Valencia EC, Maceyka M, Lima S, Allegood J, Huang WC, Zhang S, Milstien S, Conrad D, Spiegel S