How does the immune system learn to tell a friend from a foe?

Prof. Jakub (Kobi) Abramson was born in Prague, Czechoslovakia, and earned his MS in biochemistry from the Institute of Chemical Technology in Prague in 2000. He earned his PhD in 2005 at the Weizmann Institute of Science. He spent five years conducting postdoctoral research at Harvard Medical School before making aliya and joining the Weizmann Institute in 2010. Prof. Abramson investigates the molecular and cellular mechanisms that control the establishment of immunological tolerance, a process in which the immune system «learns» to recognize and tolerate the body’s own components. Such learning prevents the immune system from mounting a «friendly fire», ultimately resulting in various autoimmune disorders, such as diabetes or multiple sclerosis, while still being able to attack bacteria, viruses and other foreign invaders. His team has published several seminal papers providing the molecular basis for understanding the genetic factors that predispose us to autoimmune disorders. An in-depth understanding of tolerance might eventually help restore it once it has been lost or impaired, a possibility that would have tremendous implications for treating a host of autoimmune disorders.He has received a number of prestigious scholarships and awards, including the European Research Council (ERC) consolidator grant award (2016); Krill Prize for Excellence in Scientific Research (2016), the Abisch-Frenkel Award (2014), the German-Israeli Helmholtz Research School Award (2012), the Morasha «Brain Drain» Grant Award from the Israel Science Foundation (2010), and three fellowship awards from the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, including a three-year career transition award (2010) and an advanced postdoctoral award (2007). He also received the Aharon Katzir Fellowship Award from the Weizmann Institute (2004), and an NIH Scholarship Travel Award for Young Investigators (2001). Prof. Abramson and his wife Hoffit have two sons, Ori (2009) and Avishay (2011) and one daughter, Talya (2016). Outside the lab, he enjoys swimming, playing tennis, and cooking.


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