Director of Tel Aviv University’s Elton Lab for Molecular Neuroendocrinology

Editor in chief of the Journal of Molecular Neuroscience

My pivotal research strives to change the world outlook on brain diseases, leading to better diagnostics and novel therapies.

We identified, named and characterized activity-dependent neuroprotective protein (ADNP), which is critical for brain formation and function. We found that ADNP mutations are implicated in cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. We unveiled common pathways for brain diseases by connecting ADNP to proteins associated with autism, intellectual disabilities and schizophrenia.

We discovered a critical fragment of ADNP, NAP, that when mutated leads to a neurodevelopmental disease and can join other mutations, causing autistic ADNP syndrome. My most recent findings connect the composition of bacteria in saliva samples to PTSD and autism.

My dream is to bring NAP (davunetide) to market, helping to protect the ailing brain. Other future directions for my work include measuring ADNP levels/mutations for rapid diagnosis of autism, schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s disease, posttraumatic stress syndrome (PTSD) and possibly certain cancers.

“I would like to see my inventions helping to improve health and reduce suffering.”

I always see a challenge in front of me. I am motivated by curiosity, trying to understand the beauty of nature and the intricacies of brain function. I would like to see my inventions helping to improve health and reduce suffering. I would like to see sophisticated medications for autism spectrum disorders including autistic ADNP syndrome, schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s disease.

I try to honor the memory of my grandfather, a strongly compassionate medic, and my parents — a microbiology professor at Hebrew University and a teacher — who encouraged me to strive toward the best of my abilities.

Most importantly, my husband, daughter, her husband and my three grandchildren’s critical minds drive me forward. I could not be where I am without these wonderful people around me.