Prof. Ohad Birk, MD, PhD
Professor Ohad Birk, MD, PhD, is head of the Morris Kahn Laboratory of Human Genetics at the NIBN and of the Genetics Institute at Soroka Medical Center as of 2001. Member of NIBN and head of its genetics section as of its inception. NIBN director as of June 2016.
Birk is a human molecular geneticist, converging basic scientific research with effective clinical translational applications. Over the past decade, the Birk lab has deciphered the molecular basis and mechanism of more than 30 human diseases, including some of the most prevalent severe hereditary diseases in Arabs and in Jews worldwide. Among the many diseases discovered are Progressive Cerebello Cerebral Atrophy (PCCA) and PCCA2, the two most common severe genetic diseases in Sephardic Jews, the first gene for near-sightedness, as well as two genetic syndromes named after professor Birk.
Research of the Birk lab is effectively translated into disease prevention programs through massive carrier testing efforts, contributing to near 30% reduction in infant mortality rate in the Bedouin community over the past few years, as well as near-eradication of the most common severe hereditary diseases in Sephardic Jews.
Professor Birk is a recipient of numerous awards, serves on the editorial board of several journals, and published in top scientific journals such as Nature, Nature Genetics, PNAS and American Journal of Human Genetics. The translational impact of his work has been well echoed also in the lay press, from the NY Times to Al Jazeera and BBC World.
Background and training: Following MD studies at Tel Aviv University and a residency in Pediatrics at Sheba Medical Center, Birk did his PhD at the Weizmann Institute with Irun Cohen, delineating hsp60 as a crucial autoantigen in type 1 diabetes and allograft rejection, effective in their prevention (Birk et al J Autoimmun 1996, PNAS 1996, PNAS 1999). He then went on to do his training in clinical human genetics and post-doctorate with Heiner Westphal at the NIH, unraveling LHX9 as a gene critical for mammalian gonad formation (Birk et al., Nature 2000).
Dr. Roee Atlas
Director of business and technology development
Prior to his appointment at NIBN, Dr. Roee Atlas served at various positions in the biotech industry. Roee gained industrial expertise in leading development of pharmaceuticals/biologicals projects through their initial phases towards mature therapeutic products. Before joining NIBN Roee led Instigo-Biotech, a small seed company, centered on development of molecules for anesthesia/pain indications. As CEO, Roee oversaw all aspects, both technological and business, of Instigo.
Previously at Omrix Bio-pharmaceuticals, Roee headed the tissue regeneration unit at the R&D department. Leading a multidisciplinary team consisting of scientists, engineers, and regulatory personnel, Roee focused on development of therapeutic products based on cells, proteins, and polymer combinations to treat bone, blood vessels, and muscle pathologies.
Roee gained his Ph.D. in cellular and molecular neurobiology from the Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel. His post-doctorate training, centered on cellular therapies and tissue regeneration, was done at the Columbia Medical School, New York.
Deputy Director's functions:
The NIBN is a unique institute that provides scientists with both the environment and tools to explore the applied potential of their basic research. To realize this potential, projects must be developed in an industry-oriented manner. A major role of NIBN's deputy director is to expedite NIBN's leading scientists in translating basic academic research to an applied path culminating in a technology or therapeutic product. Implementation of such strategies that create an industrial oriented research program with concomitant scientific leverage for commercial interest is of the utmost importance for the NIBN. In order to generate such traction, NIBN supports many outsourcing activities often beyond the scope of an academic setting. This serves to complement and propel basic R&D efforts into commercial-valued candidate technology or therapeutic products.
Roee Atlas, Ph.D., M.Sc.
The National Institute for Biotechnology in the Negev Ltd.
Tel. Office: +972-8-6428630
Dr. Alon Zilka
The head technician is mainly responsible for shared scientific equipment purchase and maintenance in the NIBN. It also includes updating and tracking the inventory of all equipment bought with NIBN budgets. Apart from his position as a head technician, Dr. Alon Zilka is also managing an infra-Structure supporting Proteomic unit equipped with high-end sophisticated instrumentation including a high speed sorter, a laser scanning confocal microscope, a high throughput fluorescent scanning microscope, a robotic system connected to a high speed plate reader and instruments for measuring affinity and kinetic constants.
Dr. Zilka received his Bachelors and Masters degrees from the Hebrew university (HUJI) and his doctorate degree from the Ben-Gurion University (BGU). After a short Post–doc in BGU and after working as a head scientist in a startup company (Natspears LTD.) he joined the Institute at his current position.
Former NIBN Director, 2006-2015
Prof. Varda Shoshan-Barmatz
Prof. Varda Shoshan-Barmatz received her Bachelors and Masters degrees from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and her doctorate degree from the Weizmann Institute of Science. Following post-doctoral appointments at the University of Wisconsin at Madison and the University of Toronto, she returned to BGU. She is the incumbent of the Hyman Kreitman Chair in Bioenergetics and served as Chairperson of the Department of Life Sciences between 2000 and 2004.
Prof. Shoshan-Barmatz's research focuses on new strategies for cancer therapy, a research that has been published in major international scientific journals. Prof. Shoshan-Barmatz recieved various awards as an appreciation and honor for her scientific achievements, and has obtained various research grants from several competitive research funds in Israel and abroad.
Prof. Shoshan-Barmatz is a member of several research fund committees, and reviews papers for more than ten scientific journals distributed widely in USA and Europe.
She has played a pivotal role in the formation of the National Institute for Biotechnology in the Negev (NIBN) and served as its Deputy-Director until November 2006, when she was appointed Director of the NIBN.