Prof. Sagiv Shifman
Sagiv Shifman is an Associate Professor in the Department of Genetics at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel. He received his Ph.D. from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel, training in the laboratory of Ariel Darvasi, where he was studying the genetics basis of schizophrenia. He then did his post-doctoral studies at the Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics, University of Oxford, with Jonathan Flint studying the genetic basis of anxiety and depression. His current research focus is the genetics of autism. In 2013, he was awarded the prestigious Krill Prize from the Wolf Foundation for excellence in scientific research.
Most of the work in our lab is focused on autism research. Autism is the most severe end of a group of neurodevelopmental disorders referred to as autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). Autism is influenced by many different genes, making it hard to find the common genetic ground between patients. This genetic heterogeneity also poses a big challenge for finding treatments for the disease.
We are currently developing and using new functional genomics technologies and systems biology approaches to uncover neurogenetic pathways and mechanisms involved in autism. We are also developing and studying mouse models for autism. These approaches aim at identifying the mechanisms of neurodevelopmental diseases.
Solving the autism enigma will not only allow for further investigations of disease mechanisms, but will also open the door to studying brain pathways that are crucial for normal cognition and social behavior. Our ultimate aim is to move from the level of the genetic risk factors and networks of genes to an understanding of how changes in cellular function lead to changes in neural circuits that eventually cause changes in cognition and behavior.