The Department of Developmental Biology and Cancer Research conducts research that is based on the concept that developmental processes lie at the foundation of normal human biology, as well as of many diseases, including cancer. Members of the department are engaged in the research of cell differentiation processes and the mechanisms underlying them in various biological settings, with a particular interest in cancer. Scientists in the Department are are applying a variety of multidisciplinary approaches in order to understand how a single cell develops first into the embryo, and then to the adult organism, forming the human body with all the complexity of multiple tissues and cell types, each with its distinct traits and functions. The Department scientists are studying the activity of genes at the molecular level, and how these genes act to shape the organism by controlling cell movement and differentiation. Studies in the department are also aimed at deciphering the basis of stem cell function, and are working at ways to reprogram body cells so they can be used for tissue repair in different diseases. The understanding of developmental processes will aid our efforts to overcome diseases such as diabetes, and to tackle the challenges posed by the Fragile X syndrome and other neurologic disorders. It is also essential for the elucidation of the basic defects in cancer and the development of new approaches for the treatment and prevention of this disease.
To advance our efforts in understanding fundamental developmental processes, the department intends to strengthen several research fields, including: (1) Genomics. Applying rapidly evolving technologies in the field of genomics we will evaluate genomic events occurring as changes in DNA sequence, as well as RNA and protein molecular compositions in an integrative and comrehensivemanner. Bioinformatic techniques are utilized to reach biological insights from the large scale data bases obtained using these methods. (2) Stem cells. We will expands efforts to decipher the role of embryonic and adult stem cells in normal development and in cancer, and explore their potential in regenerative medicine; (3) Epigenetics. It is now well recognized that epigenetic mechanisms are central in the control of normal development and play extensive roles in disease, especially cancer. Department members are expanding their research of central topics in epigenetics, including DNA methylation, histone modification, chromatin structure, as well as the research of non-coding RNAs and the regulation of protein translation.
The Department of Developmental Biology and Cancer Research at the Factuly of Medicine-IMRIC is one of the leading research centers in Israel, being supported by over 2.5 million dollars in annual competitive grant funding and producing research publications in top scientific journals.