Dr. Zaidel-Bar – Principal Investigator

Ronen Zaidel-Bar – Principal Investigator

His fascination with the molecular mechanics of cell adhesion and the cytoskeleton began as a graduate student at the Weizmann Institute of Science. With Prof. Benny Geiger as my mentor, he used live-cell fluorescence microscopy to study the assembly dynamics of cell-matrix adhesions, elucidating the roles of force and phosphorylation in their regulation. Most of his PhD was focused on molecular mechanisms pertaining to specific proteins, but toward the end they took a more holistic approach and introduced to the field the now well-accepted concept of the “integrin adhesome”.

Awarded an NIH Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award to pursue postdoctoral training at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, he continued his investigation of cell adhesion in the context of a developing embryo. Under the guidance of Prof. Jeff Hardin he harnessed the power of genetics and live-embryo imaging to elucidate the role of several novel cell-cell junction proteins and actin regulators in C. elegans. In parallel, he continued to explore the adhesome at the system level, including from an evolutionary perspective.

In 2010 he was offered the opportunity to lead an independent research group at the interdisciplinary Mechanobiology Institute (headed by Prof. Mike Sheetz), supported by a grant from the Singapore National Research Foundation (under the NRF fellowship program). In parallel he was also appointed as an assistant professor in the department of Biomedical Engineering, National University of Singapore. Combining his experience in both mammalian cell adhesion and C. elegans genetics his group exploits the natural synergy between the two to address key mechanobiological questions.

In the fall of 2017 Ronen moved back to Israel to become an Associate Professor in the department of Cell and Developmental Biology at the Tel-Aviv University School of Medicine, and to start a second research group.

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Dr. Anat Nitzan, Lab Manager

Anat NitzanAnat did her PhD in the field of ophthalmology under the supervision of prof. Arieh Solomon, from the faculty of
medicine and Prof. Ari Barzilai, from the faculty of life sciences at Tel-Aviv University, Israel. Her research focused on
the analysis of cellular and molecular events associated with optic nerve degeneration and regeneration in a rat
model of optic nerve axotomy. After graduation she became prof. Solomon’s lab manager at the Goldcshleger Eye
Research Institute, Sheba Medical Center, Israel. There, she took part in a European funded project to develop a
drug for the prevention of retinal cell degeneration in Glaucoma using a novel eye implant. She then spent a year at
Sourasky Medical Center, as a researcher and lab manager for the Department of Ophthalmology. Seeking new challenges, she came back to Tel-Aviv University to join Prof. Zaidel-Bar’s lab as lab manager.

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Dr. Priti Agarwal – Postdoc

priti_croppedPriti did her PhD in the area of genetics and developmental biology with  Dr. K. Subramaniam at Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur, India. Her graduate studies were focused on understanding meiosis: a specialized type of differentiation germ cells undergo to form mature gametes – oocytes and sperm, using C. elegans as a model organism. While studying the role of biochemical signals during germ cell development, she became interested in the biomechanical signals required for continuous formation of mature oocytes and sperm. This motivated her to analyze the biophysical features of the C. elegans germline and further, to explore how mechanical forces conjoin with biochemical signals to determine the structure and function of the germline. She joined Dr. Zaidel-Bar’s lab to achieve to this goal.





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Cátia Carvalho – PhD student

Cátia did her M.Sc in the Institute for Molecular and Cell Biology (IBMC-I3S), at the University of Porto, Portugal, under the supervision of Prof. Claudio Sunkel and Dr. Eurico Morais-de-Sá. During this time, she made use of Drosophila genetics combined with molecular and biochemical techniques to explore the interplay between mitosis and cell polarity in tumorigenesis. For her PhD, she joined the labs of Prof. Zaidel-Bar and Dr. Limor Broday, where she is studying the role of SUMOylation in regulating the cytoskeleton in C.elegans.

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Shinjini Ray – Graduate student

ShinjiniShinjini pursued her master’s by research from Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai, India in Dr. Mahendra Sonawane’s lab. In his lab, she looked at the regulation of cell shape pattern by signaling pathways in the zebrafish larval finfold, an evolutionarily old unpaired appendage. She looked at the role of crosstalk between Wnt and TGFβ signaling pathways in regulation of cell shape during development of the finfold. During her master’s program, she developed an interest for cell and developmental biology. She was further interested in studying the mechanical aspects of these processes which lead her to join the mechanobiology institute for her PhD where she joined Dr. Ronen Zaidel Bar’s lab.



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Shiri Kela – PhD student


Shiri did her M.Sc in the department of biotechnology engineering at Ben-Gurion University under the supervision of Dr. Isam Khalaila. Her research focused on the development of a lipoprotein-based delivery vehicle to crustacean oocytes, using Quantum Dots labeled vitellogenin, that enters independently into prawns’ oocytes, in order to create transgenic prawns. The study included the establishment of a prawns’ ovarian incubation system, and finding the optimal conditions for vitellogenin internalization into the oocytes by ex-vivo means. During her research, she worked with prawn ovaries and oocytes, and discovered her passion for reproductive systems and embryonic development research. Therefore, she join Prof. Zaidel-Bar’s lab as a Ph.D student, in order to study the actomyosin machinery during embryonic development.





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Liran Avda – Research Assistant

Liran did her B.Sc. in Computer Science and Biology (Bioinformatics) at Tel Aviv University, she did her lab project on recombination rates in C.elegance in the lab of Prof. Oded Rechavi, where she used bioinformatic tools to study the correlation between recombination rates, histone methylations and small RNAs across the C.elegans genome.

Her interest in using programming and bioinformatic tools to answer biological questions led her to join Prof. Ronen Zaidel-Bar’s lab as an research assistant, where she is trying to develop a C.elegans based model to study a monogenic human disease.

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Hanna Grobe – PhD student

Hanna did her M.Sc in the Institute of Pharmacology at the Philipps University Marburg, Germany, under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Robert Grosse. There, she studied the role of the actin regulator FMNL2 in cell-cell contact formation using live cell imaging in combination
with genetic modifications and optogenetic regulation of the Rho-GTPase Rac1 in human breast epithelial cells. Her enthusiasm for microscopic techniques and continued interest in the cytoskeleton led her to join Prof. Zaidel-Bar’s lab as a Ph.D student, to investigate myosin-II organization in non-muscle cells.

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Dr. Cristina Bertocchi – Postdoc.

Aishwarya Srinivasan – Research assistant.

 Thang Doan – Research assistant

Dr. Yemima Budirahardja – postdoc


Guo Zhenhuan (Gary) – Research Assistant

Wu Yao – Graduate student

Pei Yi TAN – Graduate student

Megha Vaman Rao


Wei Yung DING

Wei Yung

Shuangshuang DU – Undergraduate intern

Shuangshuang Du

Dr. Anup Padmanabhan – Postdoctoral Fellow

Dr. Regha Kakkad – Senior Research Associate

Dr. Kriti Sethi – Postdoc

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