Prize for Young Israeli Bio-Medical Researcher:
Dr. Eran Elinav
Dr. Eran Elinav joined the Department of Immunology at the Weizmann Institute after completing a complete specialization as a doctor of internal medicine, doctoral research on the immune system, and post-doctoral work at Yale University. Dr. Elinav’s research focuses on the interactions between the bacteria that inhabit human intestines and their human hosts. Dr. Elinav discovered that inflammasome NLRP6, a protein complex found in intestinal epithelial cells, can detect changes in the composition and functioning of intestinal bacteria and thus regulates the interaction between the host body and the intestinal bacteria. Changes in the functioning of the inflammasome can cause inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), susceptibility to infections, obesity and its complications collectively known as metabolic syndrome, and even cancer. Additionally, Dr. Elinav’s laboratory recently reported the existence of close connections between the composition and timing of the human diet and the composition and function of human intestinal bacteria. In his research, Dr. Elinav discovered that various food additives, such as artificial sweeteners and others, in some people (depending on the composition of their intestinal bacteria) may cause a tendency to interfere with blood sugar levels. He revealed, as well, that disruptions in cycles of wakefulness and sleep cause significant changes to intestinal bacteria, that lead to a tendency towards obesity and its complications in large populations who suffer from chronic sleep disruptions, such as shift workers. These discoveries affect the health of billions of people worldwide and are expected to generate significant breakthroughs in the prevention and treatment of existing diseases.
Senior Fellow at the Canadian Institute For Advanced Research (CIFAR)