The Shraga Segal Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Genetics
Faculty of Health Sciences
Photo: Shay Shmueli, BGU
My life before BGU:
I was born in Beer-Sheva and graduated from high school in Ashdod. Most of my academic journey was at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, from BA to PhD. My first postdoc was at the Weizmann Institute of Science, with Tzachi Pilpel, where I first discovered that the RNA sequences of viruses can be different from the genes that code them. My second postdoc was at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, with Phil Newmark, where I worked on the significance of changes in RNA sequences for the regulation of the immune system of multi-cell organisms, using flatworms as a model.
Ben-Gurion University is my academic home. I got all my degrees at BGU, and it was the best time of my life. I knew I wanted to be a scientist and my goal was to return and participate in the University’s growth"
The research going on in my lab is based on my discovery during my postdoc at the Weizmann institute: While genes are blueprints for cells and organisms, RNA executes those plans. The RNA should be an exact copy of the DNA, but there are various cases where the RNA sequence is different, through a process called RNA editing. Until recently, it was believed that this process only occurs in eukaryotic cells (cells possessing a clearly defined nucleus). During my first postdoc I discovered that RNA editing takes places in microbes as well, and this can lead to the recoding of proteins and affect their functions. The goal of my current research is to discover all the genes that undergo changes at the RNA level, to understand the process and its functional significance for the microbe. My ultimate goal is to discover, catalogue and understand this phenomenon in viruses that cause human diseases, and, in the long term, find ways to intervene in these processes as a way of fighting these viruses.
Ben-Gurion University is my academic home. I got all my degrees at BGU, and it was the best time of my life. I knew I wanted to be a scientist and my goal was to return and participate in the University’s growth. I am very interested in linking basic science to clinical/applied research. Therefore, I am overjoyed to be a member of the Shraga Segal Department of Microbiology, immunology and Genetics at the Faculty of Health Sciences, a department that combines basic research with an emphasis on medical applications.
Photo: Shay Shmueli, BGU
An insight from my research:
Even if everyone says that something is wrong, they are not necessarily right. It’s important to challenge existing paradigms, and sometimes there are surprises.
When I grow up:
I wanted to be a scientist. It worked out well…
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