Prize for Young Bio-Medical Researcher: Dr. Gad Asher, Weizmann Institute of Science
Dr. Gad Asher began to study mathematics in a program for promoting excellence at Tel Aviv University. He later switched to studying medicine and completed those studies with honors. During his residency in internal medicine at the Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center, Dr. Asher registered for a PhD research program in the Department of Molecular Genetics at the Weizmann Institute of Science. Beginning in 2006, he has devoted all his time to research, first at the University of Geneva and since 2011 at the Weizmann Institute of Science, where he serves as a senior researcher in the Department of Biomolecular Sciences.
Dr. Asher’s studies concern circadian clocks. These clocks operate on a 24-hour cycle and control, on a daily basis, a wide variety of physiological processes in our bodies, such as times of wakefulness and sleep, daily changes in heart rate, in blood pressure, in kidney function, in body temperature, and in hormonal secretions. The main circadian clock, which is found in the brain, synchronizes millions of clocks that are distributed throughout each and every cell of our bodies.
Dr. Asher and the members of his team are interested in a molecular understanding of how circadian clocks operate on the cellular level and in intracellular organelles, how the central clock in the brain synchronizes the clocks in other organs of the body, and what are the reciprocal relations between circadian clocks, various metabolic processes, and nutrition. Along with these basic questions, the groundbreaking studies of Dr. Asher in the field of biological clocks have important implications for the treatment of many physiological phenomena, such as jet lag, sleep disorders, excessive weight gain, diabetes, and aging.