According to the bylaws of the Israeli Longevity Alliance (ISRLA) “The main aim of this Alliance is to act for the advancement of healthy longevity for the entire population through scientific research, technological development, medical treatment, public health and educational measures, advocacy and social activism. Within this general aim, the Alliance emphasizes and promotes the amelioration of the deteriorative aging process as the main factor undermining healthy longevity.” The Scientific Advisory Board of the Israeli Longevity Alliance is composed of recognized experts in the fields of aging and longevity research, and adjacent areas, to advance the aims of the Alliance.
Distinguished members of the ISRLA Scientific Advisory Board (alphabetic)
Prof. Gil Atzmon
Gil Atzmon is Professor of Human Biology at Haifa University in Israel, where he runs the Laboratory of Genetics and Epigenetics of Aging and Longevity, and at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York. The foremost focus of Prof. Gil Atzmon’s entire research career has been the understanding of the association of the whole genome to disease, performance, health and longevity. Since 2001, he has focused on human genome and its impact on aging and longevity.
One of the highlights was the identification of several longevity associated genes. These genes, in association with large lipoprotein particle sizes, may protect from a variety of diseases such as dementia, diabetes, hypertension and coronary heart disease and may lead to potential new treatments. This observation led to screening of whole-genome utilizing high-throughput technology for genes associated with longevity.
In more recent years his focus has shifted to a new and challenging field involving the role of epigenetics in aging and longevity. Conducting a genome-wide cytosine methylation (HELPtag assay), he demonstrated (at conferences as an invited speaker in Orlando, Florida, 2013, New York, 2013, Beer Sheva, Israel, 2013, Brooklyn, NY, 2012, London, UK, 2012, Toronto, Canada, 2012, Bethesda, Maryland, 2012, Ventura, California, 2012, Santa Barbara, California, 2009, and as a presentation in ASHG Honolulu, Hawaii, 2009 and Santa Barbara, California, 2012) that there are epigenetic differences between centenarian and control samples, and that extremely old people share a common pattern of altered methylation that distinguishes them from young unrelated controls.
Using Sequenom’s MassARRAY technology, he validated the candidate methylated loci results from the whole genome methylation scan, and demonstrated expression differences of those candidates in normal aged versus long-lived individuals. Currently, Prof. Atzmon explores healthy longevity promoting loci by using one of the best models for successful healthy longevity – the Israeli Multi-ethnic Centenarian Study.
Prof. Haim Cohen
Prof. Haim Cohen, of the Mina and Everard Goodman Faculty of Life Sciences, Bar Ilan University, aims to elucidate the mechanism of themolecular regulation of aging.
In the Cohen Lab of Molecular Mechanism of Aging, his research team is investigating two major pathways that have been shown to regulate lifespan – caloric restriction (CR) and sirtuin deacetylases. Studies in model organisms show that the activity of the Sir2 family of NAD+-dependent protein deacetylases (sirtuins) is important in regulating lifespan in yeast, worms, and flies. Overexpression of Sir2 in these organisms can extend their lifespan by approximately 40%, and in some yeast and fly strains, Sir2 mediates the effect of CR on lifespan.
Moreover, Cohen’s team has recently shown that in mammals, SIRT1 and SIRT6, two of the human Sir2 homologues, are induced in multiple tissues upon CR, and mediate the protection of CR from cell death. In 2010, Cohen was awarded a roughly €2 million European Research Council (ERC) Starting Grant for a 5-year study entitled “SIRT6 Activation for Countering Age-Related Metabolic Diseases ( “SIRAID”).
These findings suggest that activation of sirtuins in mammals has the potential to mimic the beneficial influence of CR. In order to achieve this, Cohen’s lab has developed a mouse model known as MOSES (Mice Over-expreSsing Exogenous SIRT6), and found these mice to be protected against the pathological damage caused by obesity. When fed a diet to induce obesity, these mice accumulated significantly less fat, LDL-cholesterol, and triglycerides, and did not develop diabetes. These results demonstrate a protective role for SIRT6 against the metabolic consequences of the 21st century obesity epidemic and suggest a potentially beneficial effect of SIRT6 activation on age-related metabolic diseases. Cohen’s lab is currently focusing its efforts on identifying small molecules that can induce SIRT6 activity in order to develop drugs against age related metabolic diseases.
Prof. Sol Efroni
Head. Bar Ilan University Systems Biomedicine Lab
Prof. Sol Efroni, a returning scientist from the National Cancer Institute at the NIH in Maryland, is a member of the Institute of Nanotechnology and Advanced Materials (BINA), and a senior lecturer at the Mina and Everard Goodman Faculty of Life Sciences, at Bar Ilan University. As head of BIU’s Systems BioMedicine Lab, Efroni performs pioneering systems biology network analysis in order to identify and quantify the network-wide changes that occur during the development of malignant disease and immune system in aging. His ultimate goal is to understand the cancer and immunosenescence phenotype, to identify targets for therapeutic intervention.
Prof. Yosef Gruenbaum
Professor at Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Department of Genetics.
Prof. Gruenbaum investigates Lamins, the nuclear intermediate filament (IF) proteins which are the major cytoskeleton component of animal nuclei. His lab is currently developing and using novel structural, genetic, cell biology and genomics approaches and state of the art equipment to uncover the structure of lamins and the pathways that they regulate. They have also established laminopathies models in C. elegans and use them to study why different mutations cause different diseases, including diseases associated with accelerated aging. It is hoped that these research efforts will generate an integrated view of the biology of lamins and their associated proteins.
Sivan Henis-Korenblit, PhD
Dr. Sivan Henis-Korenblit is a Senior Lecturer in the Mina and Everard Goodman Faculty of Life Sciences, Bar Ilan University. She came to Bar-Ilan University from the University of California, San Francisco, as part of the 2009 cohort of returning scientists, a special program within Bar-Ilan University to recruit young Israeli scientists to return to work in Israel.
Henis-Korenblit’s main research interest is in identifying the molecular mechanisms of aging using the model organism C. elegans. In particular, her lab focuses on the link between aging, age-related disease and protein quality control. Henis-Korenblit’s research has specific applications in a variety of maladies such as cancer, diabetes and neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, all of which are closely associated
Valery Krizhanovsky, PhD
Incumbent of the Karl and Frances Korn Career Development Chair in Life Sciences. Department of Molecular Cell Biology, Weizmann Institute of Science
Dr. Valery Krizhanovsky’s research is focused on understanding of the role of cellular senescence in physiological and pathophysiological conditions.
Cellular senescence, a permanent state of cell cycle arrest accompanied by a complex phenotype that affects the microenvironment, is an essential mechanism that limits tumorigenesis and tissue damage. However, senescent cells accumulate in premalignant lesions, sites of tissue damage and in normal tissues during aging. If senescent cells are not cleared by the immune system, persist and accumulate in tissues, they have the potential to promote pathological conditions. Krizhanovsky lab studies how senescent cells affect cancer, aging and age-related diseases as well as embryonic development.
Dr. Krizhanovsky was one of the pioneers to study the role of cellular senescence in tissue damage and repair and the interaction of senescent cells with the immune system. Recently Krizhanovsky’s laboratory discovered a novel mechanism of interaction of senescent cells with other cells that regulates the immune surveillance of senescent cells. Research at Krizhanovsky’s laboratory showed presence of cellular senescence in the placenta; thus providing, together with other laboratories, the first evidence that senescence can play a role in embryonic development. Recent studies at the laboratory discovered mechanisms that regulate the viability of senescent cells. Inhibition of these pathways allowed elimination of senescent cells in vivo.
Current research at Krizhanovsky’s laboratory also focuses on: Cellular senescence in aging and age-related diseases; Interaction of senescent cells with the immune system; Cellular senescence in premalignant lesions and cancer.
Dr. Krizhanovsky is a recipient of Yigal Alon Prize from Council of Higher Education, Ministry of Education. State of Israel.
Nirit Lev, MD, PhD
Dr. Nirit Lev is a senior neurologist at Beilinson Hospital, and a senior lecturer at Tel-Aviv University. She completed her degree in medicine at Tel-Aviv University with exceptional merit. Additionally, she holds a PhD in brain science. In addition to practicing medicine, she is involved in brain research and in drug development and in teaching medicine students at Tel-Aviv University.
Eitan Okun, PhD
Dr. Eitan Okun heads the Paul E. Feder Alzheimer’s Research Lab at Bar-Ilan University. His research is focused on finding novel roles for innate immune receptors in the Central Nervous System, and delineating the signaling mechanisms that underlie their roles. Their research has identified novel roles for several TLR family members, particularly TLR2, TLR3 and TLR4, in shaping plasticity of the central nervous system. In particular, currently, Dr. Okun’s research focuses on developing vaccination against Alzheimer’s Disease, targeting amyloid-beta, and examining the vaccine’s possible early evaluation in patients with the Down Syndrome.
Prof. Dan Peer
Head. Laboratory of Precision Nanomedicine. Department of Cell Research & Immunology. Tel Aviv University
Dan Peer is a Professor and the Director of the Laboratory of Precision NanoMedicine at Tel Aviv University (TAU). He is the Director of a national nanomedicine initiative project. He is also the Director of Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Nanotechnology Research Fund and the Chair of Tel Aviv University Cancer Biology Research Center that includes 17 affiliated hospitals.
Prof. Peer’s work was among the first to demonstrate systemic delivery of RNAi molecules using targeted nanocarriers to the immune system and he pioneered the use of RNA interference (RNAi) for in vivo validation of new drug targets within the immune system that has enormous implications in Cancer and inflammation.
Prof. Peer has more than 50 pending and granted patents. Some of them have been licensed to several pharmaceutical companies and one is currently under registration (as a new drug in inflammatory bowel disease). In addition, based on his work, four spin-off companies were generated aiming to bring personalized nanomedicine into clinical practice.
Prof. Peer a Member of the Israel Young Academy of Sciences.
Prof. Benjamin Sredni
Prof. Benjamin Sredni, Former Chief Scientist of Israel’s Ministry of Health, is Director of Bar-Ilan’s Cancer, Aids and Immunology Research (CAIR) Institute, senior member of the Mina and Everard Goodman Faculty of Life Sciences, and Dean of the School of Graduate Studies.
Sredni’s research is focused on regulation of the immune system by immunomodulators that shift immune responses from Th2 to Th1, and thus, are beneficial in various clinical conditions. In his lab, the activities and mechanism of the AS101 immunomodulator synthesized by Prof. Michael Albeck were researched, and it was found to exert beneficial effects in the treatment of cancer as well as several autoimmune and neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, lupus and diabetes.
Ilia Stambler, PhD
Dr. Ilia Stambler is the founder and chair of the Israeli Longevity Alliance.
He obtained his Ph.D. degree from Bar Ilan University, Israel, from the department of Science, Technology and Society. His research focuses on the historical and social implications of biomedical research of aging and life extension. He is also involved in research for modeling aging and life-extending processes and aging-related diseases. He has been strongly involved in education and advocacy for biomedical aging research, in Israel and Internationally. He is an affiliate scholar with the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies, executive committee member and outreach coordinator of the International Society on Aging and Disease, and coordinator for the Longevity For All advocacy network. He is the author of A History of Life-extensionism in the Twentieth Century (http://www.longevityhistory.com/ ). His papers have appeared in Progress in Neurobiology, Aging and Disease, Cancer Detection and Prevention, Rejuvenation Research, Current Aging Science, Global Aging, Frontiers in Genetics, and other journals.
Prof. Eldad Tzahor
Department of Molecular Cell Biology, Weizmann Institute of Science
Born in Israel and grew in a kibbutz, Prof. Eldad Tzahor received a BSc in biochemistry from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (1991), and a PhD in molecular biology (1999) at the Weizmann Institute of Science (Rehovot, Israel). After postdoctoral training at Harvard Medical School (Boston, USA), he joined the staff of the Weizmann Institute in 2003.
Prof. Tzahor studies molecular mechanisms that control embryonic development. In particular, he focuses on the development of the heart in the vertebrate embryo. He has discovered that the mechanisms controlling the development of the heart appear to be tightly linked to those governing the development of the muscles in the head. Current efforts by the Tzahor team are focusing on novel mechanisms that could be used to elicit cardiac regeneration following injury, a major challenge in current biomedical research. The lab develops novel approaches in cardiac biology by dissecting signalling molecules and matrix functionality to stimulate heart regeneration. His research informs the field of regenerative medicine and may potentially lead to treatments for heart disease in adult patient.
He is the recipient of a number of prestigious grants and fellowships, including the European Research Council (ERC) grant (2012-2016), Foundation Leduck (2016-2020), and the Levinson Prize in Biology (2010).
Prof. Tzahor is the father of Noam (20), Roy (15), and Jonathan (10). He swims 10 kilometers every week, which he says is one of the best forms of exercise for the heart, and one of the most relaxing.
Prof. Nir Barzilai
Prof. Nir Barzilai is the director of the Institute for Aging Research at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and the Director of the Paul F. Glenn Center for the Biology of Human Aging Research and of the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) Nathan Shock Centers of Excellence in the Basic Biology of Aging. He is the Ingeborg and Ira Leon Rennert Chair of Aging Research, professor in the Departments of Medicine and Genetics, and member of the Diabetes Research Center and of the Divisions of Endocrinology & Diabetes and Geriatrics.
Dr. Barzilai’s research interests are in the biology and genetics of aging. His focus is in the genetics of exceptional longevity, where his work has demonstrated that centenarians have protective genes that allow for the delay of aging and for the protection against age-related diseases. Taking full advantage of phenotypes, DNA, and cells from the Ashkenazi Jewish families with exceptional longevity and appropriate controls established at Albert Einstein, he has discovered underlying genomic differences associated with longevity.
The Longevity Genes Project (LGP) is a cross-sectional, on-going collection of blood and phenotype from families with centenarian proband. LonGenity is a longitudinal study of 1400 subjects, half offspring of parents with exceptional longevity, validating and following their aging in relationship to their genome. The second direction is focused on the metabolic decline of aging, and hypothesizes that the brain leads this decline. His lab has identified several central pathways that specifically alter body fat distribution and insulin action and secretion by intraventricular or hypothalamic administration of several peptides modulated by aging, including leptin, IGF-1, IGFBP3, and resveratrol.
He has received numerous grants, among them ones from the National Institute on Aging (NIA), American Federation for Aging Research, and the Ellison Medical Foundation. He has published over 200 peer-reviewed papers, reviews, and textbook chapters. He is an advisor to the NIH on multiple projects, initiatives, and study sections. He also serves on several editorial boards, is a reviewer for numerous other journals, and has been the recipient of numerous prestigious awards, including the Beeson Fellow for Aging Research, the Ellison Medical Foundation Senior Scholar in Aging Award, the Paul F. Glenn Foundation Award, the NIA Nathan Shock Award, and the 2010 Irving S. Wright Award of Distinction in Aging Research.
He is currently leading an international effort to approve drugs that can target aging. Targeting Aging with Metformin (TAME) is a specific study designed to prove the concept that multi-morbidities of aging can be delayed by metformin. He is currently working with the FDA to approve this approach to serve as a template for future efforts to delay aging and its diseases in humans.
Born in Israel, Dr. Barzilai served as chief medic and physician in the Israel Defense Forces. He graduated from The Ruth and Bruce Rappaport Faculty of Medicine at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa and completed his residency in internal medicine at Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem. He served in a refugee camp during the war in Cambodia (1979-1980) and built a nutritional village in the homeland of the Zulu (1983 – Kwazulu). He was an invited speaker at the Fourth Israeli Presidential Conference on the Future in 2012.
See Dr. Barzilai’s publications on his Albert Einstein College of Medicine page.
Prof. Dan Belsky
He works at the intersection of genetics, the social and behavioral sciences, and public health. His work brings together discoveries from the cutting edge of genome science and longitudinal data from population-based cohorts to identify mechanisms that cause accelerated health decline in older age. Dr. Belsky takes a life-span approach that encompasses research on cohorts of children, young and middle-aged adults, and older adults. His goal is is to understand why socioeconomically disadvantaged populations suffer increased morbidity in older age and earlier mortality, and to devise strategies for intervention to mitigate these health inequalities.
Prof. Vera Gorbunova
Vera Gorbunova is a Professor of Biology at the University of Rochester and a co-director of the Rochester Aging Research Institute. Her research is focused on understanding the mechanisms of longevity and genome stability and on the studies of exceptionally long-lived mammals. Dr. Gorbunova earned her B.Sc. degrees at Saint Petersburg State University, Russia and her Ph.D. at the Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel. Dr. Gorbunova pioneered comparative biology approach to study aging and identified rules that control evolution of tumor suppressor mechanisms depending on the species lifespan and body mass. Dr. Gorbunova also investigates the role of Sirtuin proteins in maintaining genome stability. More recently the focus of her research has been on the longest-lived rodent species – the naked mole rats and the blind mole rat. Dr. Gorbunova identified high molecular weight hyaluronan as the key mediator of cancer-resistance in the naked mole rat. Dr. Gorbunova has over 70 research papers including publications in Nature and Science. Her work received awards from the Ellison Medical Foundation, the Glenn Foundation, American Federation for Aging Research, and from the National Institutes of Health. Her work on cancer-resistance in the naked mole rat was awarded the Cozzarelli Prize from PNAS for outstanding scientific excellence and originality. Most recently she was awarded a prize for research on aging from ADPS/Alianz, France, Prince Hitachi Prize in Comparative Oncology, Japan, and Davey prize from Wilmot Cancer Center.
Itamar Harel, PhD
Postdoctoral fellow at the Department of Genetics, Stanford University
Dr. Harel was born in Israel, and grew in a moshav. He completed his BSc at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (2002-2005), and his PhD in developmental biology at the Weizmann Institute of Science (2006-2012). Currently, Itamar is completing his postdoctoral training at Stanford University, studying the molecular mechanisms of vertebrate aging and age-related diseases.
Aging is the primary risk factor for many human pathologies, such as cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular, and neurodegenerative diseases. Therefore, manipulating the aging rate itself, might allow us to postpone the onset of these devastating diseases, which will have a tremendous impact on human health. However, why and how we age remains a mystery, and defines one of the biggest challenges in biology.
For the past 20 years, the aging field has primarily focused on short-lived non-vertebrate model systems (such as yeast, worms, and flies), and our understanding about the aging process has increased exponentially. However, little is known about the unique aspects of vertebrates aging (humans included), mostly due-to their relatively long lifespan. To bridge this longstanding gap, Itamar is developing the shortest-lived vertebrate in captivity, the African turquoise killifish, as an exciting new platform for exploring mechanisms underlying vertebrate aging and age-related diseases.
Dr. Harel is the recipient of a number of prestigious fellowships, including the Damon Runyon, Human Frontier Science Program, and Rothschild Fellowships.
Prof. Kunlin Jin
Department of Pharmacology and Neuroscience, Institute for Healthy Aging, University of North Texas, Texas, USA.
Dr. Jin received his M.D. degree in 1983 and Ph.D. degrees in Beijing University in 1991, where he also served as Assistant Professor of Molecular Biology in the Institute of Hematology at Beijing University. He came to the US in 1992 and worked as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of California, San Francisco and then at the University of Pittsburgh from 1995-96, when he was promoted to Instructor. In 1999 he accepted an offer to join the Buck Institute as an Assistant Scientist, and has then been promoted to Professor.
Dr. Jin is an author of over 155 peer-reviewed, original research papers．Dr. Jin’s recent papers have been published in competitive journals including the JCI, PNAS and Nature. More importantly, he has been a leader in several areas of investigation related to stroke, specifically the roles of adult neurogenesis and of endogenous neuroprotective proteins in regulating the brain’s response to ischemic injury and, most recently, the effect of aging on these processes. During his follow-up work, he made incredible findings that will profoundly influence the way we think about treatment of brain diseases by cell replacement using stem cells. Dr. Jin first discovered that brain injuries, including those caused by stroke and neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, can stimulate stem cells to generate new neurons in rodents as well as in human. In addition, his encouraging findings include how these neural stem cells can be manipulated by growth factors FGF-2, EGF, VEGF and SCF, even after intranasal administration. Dr. Jin’s discoveries make this a reality. His work has gained international recognition.
Dr. Jin is also Editor-in-Chief of Aging and Disease, and co-founder and chair ofInternational Society on Aging and Disease (ISOAD).
Alexey Olovnikov, PhD. Institute of Biochemical Physics, Russian Academy of Sciences.
In 1971, Olovnikov was the first to recognize the problem of the DNA end underreplication and to suggest the telomere hypothesis of cellular aging and the relationship of telomeres to cancer. In more details: 1) He predicted telomere DNA shortening during normal cell doublings and foretold the correlation between telomere length and the cell doublings potential, or Hayflick’s limit; 2) He predicted also the existence of a compensatory DNA polymerase responsible for maintenance of telomeres (now the compensatory enzyme is known as telomerase); 3) He supposed that cancer cells should have the same compensatory DNA polymerase (telomerase) as the germline cells, and assumed that this enzyme endows cancer cells, like the germline cells, with their immortality; 4) In addition, Olovnikov interpreted a circular form of bacteria’s genome as a means of protection of their DNA from shortening.
History has shown the validity of these basic predictions and explanations that were made by Olovnikov at the tip of a pen and essentially began a new area of research. Later, other researchers, for their experimental demonstration of how chromosomes are protected by telomeres and the enzyme telomerase, were awarded the Nobel Prize.
Currently, A.M. Olovnikov is elaborating a new “Chronographic Theory of Development, Aging, and Origin of Cancer”, positing a critical role of new hypothetical organelles – chronomeres and printomeres – in these processes. According to this theory, aging of a multicellular organism is caused by the stepwise programmed loss of chronomeres, whereas senescence of dividing cells is associated with the shortening and loss of printomeres. Both printomeres and chronomeres are small perichromosomal amplificates of the regulatory segments of chromosomal DNA, and they encode regulatory RNAs. Chronomeres are located in neurons of brain’s chronograph, or a specialized clock, which records the lived time in the form of nonrandom changes of body structures. According to the new theory, in the future, the key techniques to postpone organismal aging and to stop tumor growth could be: 1) a stopping of the pacemaker of the biochronograph mechanism, and 2) a forced regeneration, or re-synthesis, of chronomeres and printomeres.