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  • Prof.  Ron Dzikowski
Prof Ron Dzikowski
Ron Dzikowskis team Current Research
Plasmodium falciparum is the deadliest form of human malaria, causing the death of over million people annually. The virulence of P. falciparum is attributed to its ability to evade the human immune system, by modifying the host red blood cell surface to adhere to the vascular endothelium and to undergo antigenic variation.
This is achieved by tight regulation of gene expression that ensures that only a single gene (var) out of a large repertoire is expressed at a time. Understanding the molecular mechanisms by which the parasite evades human immune attack could lead to the development of new drugs that disrupt this ability and would give the human immune system an opportunity to clear the infection and overcome the disease. The ongoing research in my lab focuses on the molecular and cellular mechanisms that control gene expression in P. falciparum.
Diagram of biochem cell B
Mechanisms of virulence gene expression: We are interested to characterize cis and trans acting elements involved in the epigenetic regulation of var genes. Particularly, identification of the protein/s that specifically binds the insulator-like DNA elements required for var silencing and mutually exclusive expression. In addition we found that intronic antisense ncRNAs are associated with var gene activation and we investigate their possible role in regulation of these genes. We also study the unknown function and regulation of the unusual type3 vars. To ease the use of reverse genetic approaches in P. falciparum we develop new tools to manipulate gene expression in Plasmodium that could be also used as a novel approach for drug design.
Diagram of insulator-like dna elements regulate mutually exclusive expression of var gene
Determination of the role of components of the nuclear envelope in gene regulation of malaria parasites. In addition to our efforts that will include whole genome approaches to determine the possible role of PfSec13 in the nucleoplasm, we identified additional nucleoporin homologues and we would like to investigate their association with gene expression in P. falciparum. We currently use bioinformatic, genetic and biochemical approaches to identify and characterize additional components of the NE and unveil their role in the parasites' biology.
3d analysis of nuclear dynamics during parasite development in rbcs
super resolution microscopy showing that plasmodium npcs do not co localize with f actin
The role of alternative splicing in regulating gene expression. Our identification of PfSR1 as the first alternative splicing factors in the Plasmodium encourage us to take whole genome approaches to explore its role in regulating gene expression. We created transgenic parasite that allow induced over expression of PfSR1 and will use them for Microarray and RNAseq to look at the global changes in transcription and AS that will enable to understand the importance of such event in parasites' biology. We currently characterize other candidate SR proteins that were identifies in our recent paper. In addition, target genes of PfSR1 will be used to establish artificial mini gene systems that will facilitate exploring mechanisms of AS in P. falciparum.
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Open Positions
MSc and PhD Opportunity for Outstanding Candidates in the Hebrew University
Our lab is expanding in effort to understand how malaria parasites evade immunity through antigenic variation.
We are looking for excellent, self motivated candidates with strong background in microscopy, molecular and cell biology. 
If you wish to join our laboratory at the Department of Microbiology & Molecular Genetics, Faculty of Medicine please send your CV to Prof. Ron Dzikowski at
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Lab Members
Prof  Ron Dzikowski
Prof.  Ron Dzikowski
Primary Investigator
Dr Yotam Kaufman
Dr. Yotam Kaufman
Research Associate
Dr. Brajesh Singh
Dr. Brajesh Singh
Dr. Adina Heindberg
Dr. Adina Heindberg
Dr. Manish Goyal
Dr. Manish Goyal
Vera Mitesser
Vera Mitesser
Ph.D. candidate
Sofiya Kandelis
Sofiya Kandelis
Ph.D. candidate
Yair Fastman
Yair Fastman
Ph.D. candidate
Tamir Zelter
Tamir Zelter, MD
Ph.D. candidate
Shany Assaraf
Shany Assaraf
M.Sc. Candidate

Former lab members

Dr. Yolanta Fishman
Dr. Yolanta Fishman
Lab Manager (passed away 2011)
Noa Dahan-Pasternak
Noa Dahan-Pasternak
Ph.D. (2008-2012)
Michael Peer
Michael Peer
M.Sc. (finished with distinction 2010)
Michael Peer
Narkiss Pressburger
M.Sc. (2013)
Dr. Abed Nasereddin
Dr. Abed Nasereddin
Lab Technician (2011-2015)
 Mais Maree
Mais Maree
M.Sc. (2013-2015)
 Mais Maree
Shiri Eshar
Ph.D. (2009-2014)
Dr. Inbar Amit-Avraham
Dr. Inbar Amit-Avraham
Ph.D. (2010-2015)
Dr. Florian Noulin
Dr. Florian Noulin
Posdoctoral fellow (2015-2017)
Short CV


Ph. D. in Parasitology, Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
M.Sc. in Animal Sciences, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, MAGNA CUM LAUDE.
B.Sc. in Animal Sciences, Hebrew University of Jerusalem.


Associate Professor, Department of Microbiology & Molecular Genetics, The Institute for Medical Research Israel-Canada, The Hebrew University-Hadassah Medical School, Jerusalem, Israel.
Senior Lecturer, Department of Microbiology & Molecular Genetics, The Institute for Medical Research Israel-Canada, The Hebrew University-Hadassah Medical School, Jerusalem, Israel.
Lecturer, Department of Parasitology, The Hebrew University-Hadassah Medical School, Jerusalem, Israel.
NIH postdoctoral fellow, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Weill Medical College of Cornell University. NY, USA
International scholar, Department of Microbiology, Pathology & Parasitology, College of Veterinary Medicine, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC, USA.

Honors and awards

Awarded the Olitzki Prize of the Israel Society for Microbiology (ISM).
Awarded the ERC (European Research Council) Consolidator Grant.
Awarded a prize for outstanding teaching achievements, Faculty of Medicine of the Hebrew University.
Awarded a prize for outstanding research achievement, Faculty of Medicine of the Hebrew University;
Awarded the Minerva Stiftung, ARCHES award for Research Cooperation and High Excellence in Science.
Awarded the Jacob & Lena Joels Memorial Foundation Senior Lectureship for Excellence in the Life and Medical Sciences.
2009, 2010 & 2012
Outstanding lecturer award, Hebrew University.
Awarded the Gaia Luoni Prize from Institute Pasteur on outstanding achievements in malaria genetics.
Awarded the Golda Meir Lectureship Fellowship.
The most outstanding 2007 Israeli projects in the “EU 7th Framework Program for Research & Technological Development”;
The Young Scientists’ program of the German-Israeli Foundation.
2005 & 2006
The American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene Scientific Award in recognition of scientific excellence in Molecular, Cellular and Immunoparasitology;The MPM distinction award at the Woods Hole Molecular Parasitology Meeting.
Awarded the Horowitz scholarship of distinction for PhD students.
2001 & 2002
Awarded the Baron Hirsch fellowship.
Awarded the Bin-Nun scholarship of distinction from the Oceanographic & Limnological Sciences Foundation.
Weidner*, T., Nasereddin*, A., Preu, L., Grunefeld, J., Dzikowski, R., & Kunick, C. 2016. Novel 2-phenoxyanilide congeners derived from a hit structure of the TCAMS: Synthesis and evaluation of their in vitro activity against Plasmodium falciparum. Molecules 21(2): E223.
* Equal authorship contribution
Jeppesen, A., Ditlev, S., Soroka, V., Stevenson, L., Turner, L., Dzikowski, R., Hviid, L., & Barfod, L. (2015). Multiple Plasmodium falciparum erythrocyte membrane protein 1 (PfEMP1) variants per genome can bind IgM via Fcµ. Infect Immun 83(10): 3972-81. 
Eshar, S., Altenhofen, L., Rabner, A., Ross, P., Fastman, Y., Mandel-Gutfreund, Y., Karni, R., Llinas, M. & Dzikowski, R. 2015. PfSR1 controls alternative splicing and steady state RNA levels in Plasmodium falciparum through preferential recognition of specific RNA motifs. Mol Microbiol 96(6): 1283-1297.
Merrick, C. J., Jiang, R. H. Y., Skillman, K. M., Samarakoon, U., Moore, R. M., Dzikowski, R., Ferdig, M. T. & Duraisingh, M. (2015). Functional analysis of sirtuin genes in multiple Plasmodium falciparum strains.  PLoS One 10(3):e0118865.
Amit-Avraham, I., Pozner, G., Eshar, S., Fastman, Y., Kolevzon, N., Yavin, E. & Dzikowski, R. (2015). Antisense lncRNAs regulate var gene activation in the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 112(9):E982-91.
*** Highlighted in: Nature Reviews Microbiology (2015) 13:188-189.
Kolevzon*, N., Nasereddin,* A., Shankar, N., Yavin, E. & Dzikowski, R. (2014). Use of peptide nucleic acids to manipulate gene expression in the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum. PLoS One 9(1):e86802.
* Equal authorship contribution
Ukaegbu, U.E., Kishore, S.P., Kwiatkowski, D.L., Pandarinath, C., Dahan-Pasternak, N., Dzikowski, R. & Deitsch. K.W. (2014). Recruitment of PfSET2 by RNA polymerase II to variant antigen encoding loci contributes to antigenic variation in Plasmodium falciparum. PLoS Pathog 10(1):e1003854.
Dahan-Pasternak, N., Nasereddin, A., Kolevzon, N., Pe'er, M., Wong, W., Shinder, V., Turnbull, L., Whitchurch, S.B., Elbaum, M., Gilberger, T.W., Yavin, E. & Dzikowski, R. 2013. PfSec13 is an unusual chromatin associated nucleoporin of Plasmodium falciparum which is essential for parasites proliferation in human erythrocytes. J Cell Sci 126(14): 3055-3069.
Vitlin, A., Nisemblat, S., Zizelski, G., Parnas, A., Dzikowski, R., Azem, A. & Weiss, C. 2012. Functional conservation between P. falciaprum cpn20 and the bacterial co-chaperonin, GroES. PLoS One 8(1): e53909.
Fugel, W., Ratin, M., Kruggel, S., Oberholzer, A. E., Dzikowski, R., Pressburger, N., Preu, L., Pearl, L., Barratte, B., Ferandin, Y., Gschlossl, B., Okun, I., Doerig, C., Lemcke, T., Meijer. L. & Kunick, C. 2012. 3,6--Diamino-4-(2-halophenyl)-2-benzoylthieno[2,3-b]pyridine-5-carbonitriles are Selective Inhibitors of Plasmodium falciparum Glycogen Synthase Kinase-3 (PfGSK-3). J Med Chem 56(1): 264-75.
Avraham, I., Schreier, J. & Dzikowski, R. 2012. Insulator-like pairing elements regulate silencing and mutually exclusive expression in the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 109(52): E3678-E3686.
Eshar, S., Allemand, E., Sebag, A., Glaser, G., Muchardt, C., Mandel-Gutfreund, Y., Karni, R. & Dzikowski, R. 2012. A novel Plasmodium falciparum SR protein is an alternative splicing factor required for the parasites' proliferation in human erythrocytes. Nucleic Acids Res 40(19): 9903-19
Kapishnikov, S., Weiner, A., Shimoni, E., Guttmann, P., Schneider, G., Dahan-Pasternak, N., Dzikowski, R., Leiserowitz, L. & Elbaum, M. 2012. Oriented nucleation of hemozoin at the digestive vacuole membrane in Plasmodim falciparum. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 109(28): 11188-93.
Fastman, Y., Noble R., Recker, M. & Dzikowski R., 2012. Erasing the epigenetic memory and beginning to switch - the onset of antigenic switching of var genes in Plasmodium falciparum. PLoS One 7(3):e34168.
Enderes, C., Kombila, D., Dal-Bianco, M., Dzikowski, R., Eichner, M., Kremsner, P. & Frank, M. 2011. Var gene promoter activation in clonal Plasmodium falciparum isolates follows a hierarchy and suggests a conserved switching program that is independent of genetic background. J Infect Dis 204(10):1620-31
Eshar, S., Dahan-Pasternak, N., Weiner, A. & Dzikowski, R. 2011. High resolution 3D perspective of Plasmodium biology - advancing into a new era. Trends Parasitol 27(12):548-54.
Weiner*, A., Dahan-Pasternak*, N., Shimoni, E., Shinder, V., von Huth, P., Elbaum, M. & Dzikowski, R. 2011. 3D nuclear architecture reveals coupled cell cycle dynamics of chromatin and nuclear pores in the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum. Cell Microbiol 13(7): 967-77.
* Equal authorship contribution
Merrick, C. J., Dzikowski, R., Imamura, H., Chung, J., Deitsch, K. & Duraisingh, M. T. 2010. The effect of Plasmodium falciparum SIR2a on clonal and longitudinal variation of var gene expression. Int J Parasitol 40(1): 35-43.
Howitt, C., Wilinski, D., Llin?s, M., Templeton, T. J., Dzikowski, R. * & Deitsch, K. W.*. 2009. Clonally variant gene families in Plasmodium falciparum share a common activation factor. Mol Microbiol 73(6): 1171-85
*Co-corresponding authors
Dzikowski, R. & Deitsch, K. 2009. Genetics of antigenic variation in Plasmodium falciparum. Curr Genet 55(2):103-10.
Pasternak, D. N. & Dzikowski, R. 2009. PfEMP1: An antigen that plays a key role in the pathogenicity and immune evasion of the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum. Int J Biochem Cell B 41(7): 1463-1466.
Dzikowski, R. & Deitsch, K. 2008. Active transcription is required for the maintenance of epigenetic memory in the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum. J Mol Biol 382: 288-297.
Dzikowski, R., Li, F., Amulic, B., Eisberg, A., Frank, M., Patel, S., Wellems, T. E. & Deitsch, K. 2007. Mechanisms underlying mutually exclusive expression of virulence genes in malaria parasites. EMBO Rep 8(10): 959-965.
Functional Genomics Workshop Group, The Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT. 2007. Mechanism of gene regulation in Plasmodium. Am J Trop Med Hyg 77(2): 201-208.
Frank, M.*, Dzikowski, R.*, Amulic, B. & Deitsch, K. 2007. Variable switching rates of malaria virulence genes are associated with chromosomal position. Mol Microbiol 64(6): 1486-1498.* Equal authorship contribution
Chookajorn, T., Dzikowski, R., Frank, M., Li, F., Jiwani, A. Z., Hartl, D. L. & Deitsch, K. 2007. Epigenetic memory at malaria virulence genes. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 104(3): 899-902.
Dzikowski, R., Templeton, T. J. & Deitsch K. W. 2006. Variant antigen gene expression in malaria. Cell Microbiol 8(9): 1371-1381
Frank, M., Dzikowski, R., Costantini, D., Amulic, B., Berdougo, E. & Deitsch, K. W. 2006. Strict pairing of var promoters and introns is required for var gene silencing in the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum. J Biol Chem 281(15): 9942-9952
Dzikowski, R., Frank, M. & Deitsch, K. W. 2006. Mutually exclusive expression of virulence genes by malaria parasites is regulated independently of antigen production. Plos Pathog 2(3): e22
Dzikowski, R. & Deitsch, K. W. 2006. Antigenic variation by protozoan parasites: insights from Babesia bovis. Mol  Microbiol  59(2): 364-366
Dzikowski, R., Hulata, G., Harpaz, S. & Karplus, I. 2004. Inducible reproductive plasticity of the guppy Poecilia reticulata in response to predation cues. J Exp Zool 301A: 776-782
Dzikowski R., Levy M.G., Poore M.F., Flowers J.R. & Paperna I. 2004. Clinostomum complanatum and Clinostomum marginatum (Rudolphi, 1819) (Digenea: Clinostomatidae) are separate species based on differences in rDNA. J Parasitol 90: 413-414
Dzikowski R., Levy M.G., Poore M.F., Flowers J.R. & Paperna I. 2004. Use of rDNA polymorphism for identification of Heterophyidae infecting freshwater fishes. Dis Aquat Organ 59: 35-41
Dzikowski R., Levy M.G., Poore M.F., Flowers J.R. & Paperna I. 2003. Genetic and morphologic differentiation of Bolbophorus confusus and B.  levantinus (Digenea: Diplostomatidae), based on rDNA SSU polymorphism and SEM. Dis Aquat Organ 57: 231-235
Dzikowski, R., Diamant, A. & Paperna, I. 2003. Trematode metacercariae of fish as sentinels for a changing limnological environment. Dis Aquat Organ 55: 145-150
Dzikowski, R., Diamant, A. & Paperna, I. 2003. Multi-annual changes in parasite communities of the rabbitfish Siganus rivulatus (Siganidae) in the Gulf of Aqaba, Red Sea. Helgol Mar Res 57: 228-225
Dzikowski, R., Diamant, A. & Paperna, I. 2003. Use of fish parasitological species richness indices in analyzing anthropogenically – impacted coastal marine ecosystems. Helgol Mar Res 57: 220-227
Levy, M.G., Flowers, J.R., Poore, M.F., Khoo, L., Pote, L.M., Mullen, J.E., Paperna, I., Dzikowski, R. & Litaker, R.W. 2002. Morphologic, pathologic, and genetic investigations of Bolbophorus spp. (Diplostomatida, Trematoda) affecting cultured Ictalurus punctatus in the Mississippi delta. J Aquat Anim Health 14: 235-246
Dzikowski, R., Hulata, G., Karplus, I. & Harpaz, S. 2001. Effect of temperature and dietary L-carnitine supplementation on reproductive performance of female guppy (Poecilia reticulata). Aquaculture 199: 323-332

Book chapter

Paperna, I. & Dzikowski R. 2006. Digenea (Phylum Platyhelminthes). In: Fish Diseases and Disorders, Volume. I: Protozoan and Metazoan Infections, 2nd Edition (Woo, P.T.K. Ed.). CAB International, Cambridge, UK pp. 342-387.
Dzikowski, R. & Levy M. G. 2009. Molecular Diagnosis of Heterophyidae, In: Molecular Detection of Foodborne Pathogens. (Liu D. Ed.) Taylor & Francis CRC, London UK. pp. 783-792. 
Dzikowski, R. & Levy M. G. 2011. Molecular Diagnosis of Heterophyidae, In: Molecular Detection of Human Parasitic Pathogens. (Liu D. Ed.) Taylor & Francis CRC, London UK. pp. 379-388.
Deitsch, K. & Dzikowski, R. Regulation of gene expression. 2011. In: Malaria parasites, Comparative Genomics, Evolution and Molecular Biology. (Carlton et al., Eds.) Horizon Scientific Press, London UK. pp. 145-167.
Dzikowski, R. & Przyborski, J. M. 2013. Protein trafficking within the malaria parasite P. falciparum. In: Encyclopedia of Malaria. (Kremsner & Hommel, Eds.) Springer (in press).
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