The Azrieli Faculty of Medicine
Dr. Onn is a former Research Associate at the Department of Embryology, Carnegie Institute for Science, Baltimore, USA. He joined BIU's Azrieli Faculty of Medicine in 2014, being one of the founder researchers. In his lab at BIU he studies mechanisms that control the spatial organization of the chromatin in the nucleus of eukaryotic cells.
The DNA in eukaryotic cells is packed by proteins into chromatin fibers. Structural Maintenance of Chromosome (SMC) is a family of protein complexes that mediate long range interactions between remote chromatin regions on the same molecule and between separate chromatin fibers. The organization of the chromatin by SMCs plays a central role in the structural stability of the chromatin, they are essential for accurate segregation of the genetic material when cells divide and they controls the timely expression of genes in respond to cellular and environmental cues.
In recent years the impact of SMCs on human health has been recognized. Mutations in genes encoding for SMCs are associated with genetic disorders of intellectual disability and cancer. “Our knowledge of the mechanism by which SMCs cause human disorders in poor” says Dr. Onn. “If we’ll dissect SMCs mechanism of action we will be able to understand their pathogeny and develop means to control their activity. SMCs are new and exciting targets for personal medicine”.
Dr. Onn and his team at BIU are using a multidisciplinary approach to decipher the molecular basis of SMCs activity and to develop new small molecules to manipulate their activities. “Our long term goal is to improve diagnosis in patients carrying mutations in SMCs encoding genes. Furthermore, we aim to harness SMCs to personal medicine in order to develop new therapeutic strategies and improve human health”.