Oded Rechavi

2018 Blavatnik Awards for Young Scientists in Israel

Oded Rechavi

Current Position: Senior Lecturer, Department of Neurobiology

Institution: Tel Aviv University

Discipline: Genetics & Genomics

Recognized for: Discovering mechanisms of non-DNA-based inheritance that revolutionize our understanding of whether and how acquired traits can be passed on to the next generation.

Areas of Research Interest and Expertise:  Molecular biology, Genetics, Epigenetics, Evolution, Neuroscience.

Biography:

BSc, Neuroscience, Tel Aviv University
PhD, Neurobiology, Direct PhD Program, Tel Aviv University (Advisor: Prof. Yoel Kloog)
Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics, Columbia University, Howard Hughes Medical Institute (Advisor: Prof. Oliver Hobert)

Oded Rechavi’s ground-breaking work uncovers novel mechanisms of inheritance – he has shown that environmentally-induced acquired traits can be passed to the next generation without changes to the DNA. The idea that stress could produce adaptive responses which transmit to the next generations was heretic for over 200 years, and no biological mechanism had been found to mediate non-DNA-based inheritance. Dr. Rechavi demonstrated that instead of inheritance being carried by changes to the DNA, other molecules (small RNAs) could mediate a type of transgenerational inheritance, which obeys different rules. He has shown that this mechanism can regulate genes across generations, and that this provides nematodes with heritable anti-viral immunity, as well as a method to “memorize” natural experiences such as starvation. Rechavi’s group has gone on to elucidate the rules that determine which epigenetic responses will be inherited, and for how many generations each response could last. He has identified the genes involved in regulating this pathway, including the enzymes which perpetuate inheritance of small RNAs (such as RNA-dependent RNA polymerases), and the factors that “erase” these responses (such as the MET-2 histone methyltransferase). These studies can help us to understand how complex traits and diseases are inherited – a first step towards treatments for many diseases where causative genes have not been identified. Taken together, this body of work represents a paradigm shift that will ripple through the fields of evolutionary biology, genetics, developmental biology, and social science.

“I want to understand at the molecular level how memory, in the broadest sense, is encoded. To do this I am trying to challenge dogmas, and as Marcel Duchamp said, ‘to challenge myself, to avoid conforming to my own tastes’. I am honored to receive the prestigious Blavatnik award, and to join the list of incredible past awardees.”

Key Publications:

  1. I.Lev, U.Seroussi, H.Gingold, R.Bril, S.Anava, O.Rechavi. MET-2-Dependent H3K9 Methylation Suppresses Transgenerational Small RNA Inheritance. Current Biology, 2017.
  2. L.Houri-Ze’evi, Y.Korem, H.Sheftel, L.Faigenbloom, I.Toker, Y.Dagan, L.Awad, L.Dagani, U. Alon, and O.Rechavi. A Tunable Mechanism Determines the Duration of the Transgenerational Small RNA Inheritance in C. elegans. Cell, 2016.
  3. O.Rechavi, L.Houri-Ze'evi, S.Anava, W.S.Sho Goh, S.Y.Kerk, G.J.Hannon, O.Hobert. Starvation-induced transgenerational inheritance of small RNAs in C.elegans. Cell, 2014.
  4. O.Rechavi, G.Minevich, and O.Hobert. Transgenerational Inheritance of an Acquired Small RNA-Based Antiviral Response in C.elegans. Cell, Vol.147, 2011.

Other Honors:

2015The Krill Prize of the Wolf Foundation for Excellence in Scientific Research
2013Alon Fellowship for Outstanding Young Researchers
2010The Gruss Lipper Fellowship
2010Israel Science Foundation- F.I.R.S.T - Bikura Fellowship
2010Teva Prize awarded by the ISBMB
2008Clore Foundation Scholarship

 

In the Media:

10 Most Creative People in Israel Under 40, Marker Magazine (Israel)
40 Most Promising People in Israel Under 40, Globes Magazine (Israel)

Website