Bar-Ilan University | President’s Report 2022

47 ERC CONSOLIDATOR GRANT Consolidator grants allow researchers with a track record of success to consolidate their independence by establishing a superb research teamand pushing forward promising projects. Prof. Rachela Popovtzer BrainCRISPR: A Non-Invasive Treatment for Genetic Brain Diseases Prof. Rachela Popovtzer, vice dean of the Alexander Kofkin Faculty of Engineering, is building a breakthroughnanoplatform for transforming CRISPR into a clinical technology for genome editing in the brain. Using insulin to overcome formidable brain and cell barriers, her nanoplatform will transport CRISPR machinery into deep-brain regions and mediate its successful entry into specific, diseased brain cells. Designed to meet key criteria for non-invasive, safe, and efficient delivery, Popovtzer’s nanoplatform will also allow for the precise tailoring of the technology to the particular needs of the brain disease. ERC STARTING GRANT Starting grants enable exceptional and ambitious young researchers to launch their own projects, form their teams, and pursue their best ideas. Dr. Shai Bel GCMech: Goblet Cells as Cure for Gastroenterological Disease Dr. Shai Bel of the Azrieli Faculty of Medicine is studying goblet cells, the cells that secrete themucus and antimicrobial proteins that together form a protective barrier against bacterial infections. By uncovering the basic biology behind these cells’ function through a series of 14-day clinical trials, and investigation the effects of inflammation, genetics, and environmental factors on their dysfunction, too, Bel and his team hope to discover a cause of and treatment for inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Dr. Nitzan Gonen EnhanceSex: Deciphering Sex Determination, Disorders, and Infertility Dr. Nitzan Gonen of the Mina and Everard Goodman Faculty of Life Sciences is working to decipher the gene regulatory networks that governmammalian sex determination through both in vivo and in vitro approaches. Using cutting edge techniques such as CRISPR genome editing and 3D scaffolding development, she and her team hope to shed light on cell fate decisions, allowing for a better diagnosis of patients with disorders of sex development and more effective treatments for infertility. Dr. Nitzan Gonen Dr. Shai Bel Prof. Rachela Popovtzer