Prof. Abraham Fainsod

Faculty Member , Developmental Biology & Cancer Research, IMRIC
Professor of Biochemistry
Wolfson Family Professor of Genetics

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Why I became a researcher: 

Over a decade ago, I had a student who was doing some experiments on retinoic acid (a nutrient that that body needs in small amounts to function and stay healthy), which is essential in proper fetal development. We became interested in blocking the biosynthesis of retinoic acid and she showed me how ethyl alcohol blocked the retinoic acid effects. The results intrigued us and we began to focus our attention on the developmental malformations induced by alcohol as part of the Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder and, in particular, its strongest manifestation, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. Since then our research has indicated that ethyl alcohol detoxification competes with retinoic acid biosynthesis and this competition can be abolished by increasing the levels of retinol (Vitamin A). IMRIC has now established the Canada-Israel International Fetal Alcohol Consortium, a collaboration with the government of Manitoba and the University of Manitoba that will test whether adjusting the levels of vitamin A in the diet can reduce the severity and the incidence of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder as in our experimental system. We are excited to see what the results produce.


1984-1986: Post-Doctoral fellow, molecular developmental biology, Yale University

1984: Ph.D. in Genetics, The Hebrew University

1980: B.Sc. in Biology, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Selected Awards and Honors: 
1993-1994: American Cancer Society International Cancer Research Fellowship
1986: Allon Fellowship
1985-1986: National Cancer Cytology Center Fellowship
Abraham [dot] fainsod [at] ekmd [dot] huji [dot] ac [dot] il
Collaborative Projects

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Research

IMRIC is proud to be involved in this partnership with the University of Manitoba, whose physical presence stretches all across the province. Its main campus provides students with the unique opportunity to study, learn, and hone their skills in a collaborative way alongside some of the best practitioners in the country. 

Related Videos

Breakthroughs in treating Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder

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IMRIC Vlog: Researcher Prof. Abraham Fainsod on breakthrough research and his sabbatical in Winnipeg

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Researcher in the News

Manitoba Pledges $750 000 For Joint Research with IMRIC and University of Manitoba


It's too early to call it a cure, but plain old vitamin A could curb the devastating effects of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder.

New research by an Israeli scientist suggests vitamin A could act almost like an antidote to the effects of alcohol on very early embryos during the critical development of the head and central nervous system. That's when the worst effects of FASD start.

Jewish Tribune Article: "Universities Team Up For Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Research"


Winnipeg – The University of Manitoba has teamed up with Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Manitoba government to support a new research collaboration to address fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD).

Canada's Governor General Visits Hebrew University's Faculty of Medicine

Discussed collaborative medical research partnerships between Canada and Israel at IMRIC, the Institute for Medical Research Israel-Canada. Mrs. Johnston Visited Early Childhood Programs at Hebrew University.