Take part in the scientific journey with our Hebrew University students at the Institute for Medical Research Israel-Canada as they begin their academic careers.

vlog #1: Lorna Moll, Post Doctoral Fellow

Post Doctoral Fellow Lorna Moll

I am very excited to share with you, the behind the scenes of our lab’s recent breakthrough. Together our lab, led by Prof. Ehud Cohen here at IMRIC, and the start-up company TyrNovo discovered a potential treatment of brain diseases. We found that TyrNovo’s unique compound, named NT219, selectively inhibits the process of aging in order to protect the brain from neurodegenerative diseases, like Alzheimer’s and Huntington’s disease, without affecting lifespan.

While this is the first step in what is still a long line of investigations, it is extremely exciting for us. Check out my first vlog explaining the research and what’s to come.


Bio: After I finished my B.Sc. at the University of Cologne, Germany, I joined the lab of Prof. Ludwig Eichinger where I investigated the expression pattern of Dictyostelium discoideum after infection with Mycobacterium marinum via cDNA Microarrays. During my PhD thesis I worked in the lab of Dr. Markus Schubert at the University of Cologne and got interested in the connection between the insulin/IGF1R signalling pathway and neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer´s disease. I analysed the function of the downstream transcription factor FoxO1 of the insulin/IGF-1R signaling cascade in Alzheimer´s disease. For my post-doctoral research in the group of Dr. Ehud Cohen I continue to study the role of DAF-16/FoxO mediated protection against age-associated proteotoxicity in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans. 

Viewing breast cancer in 3D

By: IMRIC PhD student Roy Granit

When thinking about breast cancer one might imagine a single disease in which a uniform bulk of identical cells divide endlessly. Yet (sadly) the reality is much more complex. Breast tumors can divide into at least six distinct subtypes that greatly vary in their biological features and treatment options, and these can greatly influence patient outcome. Things get even more complex as you take a closer look into the cellular composition of each tumor, and witness how heterogeneous these tumors really are. Some tumors are actually composed of many subpopulations of cells with distinct biological features and differential response to treatment. Some cells within the tumor may exhibit increased resistance to treatment, and remain unharmed by it, making it extremely difficult to eradicate the entire tumor.

For these reasons we, at the lab of Dr. Ittai Ben-Porath, set out to characterize the composition of breast tumors and uncover genes that control their proportion. We hope that by shedding light on these mechanisms, drugs that are able to shift the tumor identity towards a more treatable state will be developed.

Our research involves genetic manipulation of genes we suspect to have an impact on tumor composition and identity. Once we achieve this we need to evaluate the actual effect on the tumorigenic cells. To do so we are looking at the expression levels of several key genes in order to position the treated cells onto a theoretical linear axis that examines one of the tumorigenic traits. One such axis might describe for example how metastatic the cells are (non-metastatic <-> metastatic axis). By doing so we are able to assess to what degree, and in what “direction” our manipulation drove the tumorigenic cells into. In our recent publication we describe a novel approach, in which instead of looking at just the single axis, one can combine up to three breast cancer relevant axes at once while assessing tumor identity. This approach provides new insights, since it allows the researcher to appreciate the tumor state from a broader perspective and investigate the interrelatedness between different axes and the importance of intermediate states.

Hopefully this approach will assist our understanding of the complexity of the disease and yield new biological insights. This knowledge might one day allow physicians to alter tumor composition towards a more benign state, possibly by using pharmacological combinations that affect several axes to do so.  

Check out Roy's Vlog here



Vlog #1: Muhannad Abu Remaileh, IMRIC PhD Student

By: Muhannad Abu Remaileh

I am very excited to share my current research on cancer cell metabolism and pancreatic cancer. Here at IMRIC, In my lab's investigations we're trying to understand the alterations in the metabolism of the cancer cells in order to target them specifically. With pancreatic cancer, our group of researchers focuses on trying to uncover new tumor suppressor pathways and mechanisms, in order to get a better understanding for this mysterious and fatal type of cancer. My goal is to innovate new approaches for better prognosis and treatment of cancer. I hope you enjoy my vlog post and can get an idea of the incredible work we are doing. 


For more on Muhannad's lab and research click here.


Stepping into High Gear

By: IMRIC PhD student Roy Granit
PhD Student Roy Granit

People often ask me, what is it that I do all day? I usually tell them that I am transferring liquids, small amounts of liquids, from one container to another. Of course this is an understatement of actual scientific work, which involves many other aspects, yet aspirating and dispensing liquids (containing cells, DNA, chemical compounds...etc.) remains at the basis of most experimental work. But what if someone else could do these steps for you, repeatedly, more accurately and would not complain about it?

For these reasons automated liquid handlers were developed, and in recent years they are becoming more accessible to the broad scientific public. These instruments enable the handling of small amount of liquids across a large amount of samples, and thus allow the user to conduct thousands of small-scale experiments. This methodology enable experiments otherwise not possible due to the huge amount of work needed to conduct them (therefore named high-throughput screening), and allow researches to address more complex questions. The uncovering of the human genome, ten years ago, involved the use of such system to handle the vast amounts of material and work needed; this greatly fuelled the field and has thrived ever since. 

Recently, the Institute for Medical Research Israel-Canada, IMRIC has acquired a state of the art Hamilton ‘Starlet’ robotic liquid handler, to be used by researchers throughout the institute. The purchase was led by Dr. Ittai Ben-Porath, and Dr. Miriam Kott-Gutkowski, head of the MicroArray Service Laboratory at The Core Research Facility, where the system is positioned. The system will allow IMRIC researchers to expedite their research and preform many interesting experiments, such as cancer or disease drug screening, DNA sample extraction and sequencing, identification of protein interactions and much more. 

Personally, I plan to use this wonderful tool in order to seek genes responsible for the formation of aggressive subtypes of breast cancer, and hopefully uncover how to manipulate them to prevent tumor growth. So the next time someone asks me what I am doing, I’ll simply say I’m monitoring a robot.

Click here to learn about the history of automated liquid handlers

Click here to  see the screening unit at the Broad institute

Click here to see the robot in action. 

Vlog #2: IMRIC Grad Student Ella: It's Your Turn to Test-run the Equipment, get ready to see through sound!

IMRIC Grad Student Ella Striem-Amit


I'm back with my second vlog and very excited to show you how to learn to see through sound using the vOICE, the sensory substitution software created by Dr. Meijer. In our IMRIC lab, under the guidance of Prof. Amir Amedi, we focus on teaching blind subjects to see through sound. In this vlog I actually explain and ask you to join me in experimenting with the sounds. You will have a the real experience of how our blind subjects learn how to take sound and use it to see. I am excited to share my work and research with you and look forward to more vlogs to come. 

For more on our research check out Prof. Amedi's Ted Talk

Check out Ella's first vlog here