Alon Chen, Ph.D.
Weizmann Institute of Science

Email: | Phone: +972-8-934-4490
Chen is President of the Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel (since December 2019) and the former Managing Director of the Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry, Germany. Born in Israel in 1970, Prof. Alon Chen received a B.Sc. in biological studies from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in 1995, and a Ph.D. from the Weizmann Institute of Science in the Department of Neurobiology, in 2001. Between 2001 and 2005, he served as a Research Associate in the Laboratories for Peptide Biology at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, La Jolla, California. In 2005, he joined the Weizmann Institute in the Department of Neurobiology. In 2013 he was nominated as Director and Scientific Member at the Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry, Munich, Germany and as the Head of the Max Planck Society - Weizmann Institute of Science Laboratory for Experimental Neuropsychiatry and Behavioral Neurogenetics. Prof. Chen’s research focuses on the Neurobiology of Stress, particularly the mechanisms by which the brain is regulating the response to stressful challenges and how this response is linked to psychiatric disorders. His lab has made discoveries linking the action of specific stress-related genes with anxiety, depression, weight regulation and diabetes. Prof. Chen and his research team use both mouse genetic models and human patients to ultimately create the scientific groundwork for therapeutic interventions to treat stress-related emotional and metabolic disorders such as anxiety, post-traumatic stress, anorexia nervosa, and depression. His honors include a postdoctoral Rothschild Fellowship, and a postdoctoral Fulbright Fellowship (2001-2002). He received the ‘Alon Fellowship’; the most prestigious Israeli fellowship for returning scientists, granted by the Israeli Council for Higher Education, 2007-2009, and the Novartis Prize in Neuroendocrinology in 2009 and the Hans Lindner Prize in 2011, both from the Israel Endocrine Society; as well as the Sieratzki-Korczyn Prize for Advances in Neuroscience in 2010. In 2011, he was awarded the Morris L. Levinson Prize in Biology by the Scientific Council of the Weizmann Institute and the Teva Research Prize granted by the Israel Science Foundation in 2011.


Dr. Eran Elinav, MD, Ph.D.
The Rina Gudinski Career Development Chair
Weizmann Institute of Science

Email: | Phone: +972-8-934-4014
Dr. Eran Elinav heads a research group at the Department of Immunology, Weizmann Institute of Science. His lab focuses on deciphering the molecular basis of host-microbiome interactions and their effects on health and disease, with a goal of personalizing medicine and nutrition. Dr. Elinav completed his medical doctor’s (MD) degree at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem Hadassah Medical Center summa cum laude, followed by a clinical internship, residency in internal medicine, and a clinical and research position at the Tel Aviv Medical Center Gastroenterology institute. He received a PhD in immunology from the Weizmann Institute of Science, followed by a postdoctoral fellowship at Yale University School of Medicine. Dr. Elinav has published more than 70 publications in leading pear-reviewed journals, and was awarded for his discoveries including the Claire and Emmanuel G. Rosenblatt award from the American Physicians for Medicine, the Alon Foundation award, and the Rappaport prize for biomedical research.

His research focuses on the complex microbial ecosystem within our bodies which, from birth until death, has a fundamental impact on many aspects of physiology and susceptibility to various disorders. Each of us has a unique microbiome–the collection of 100 trillion germs and microbes that reside in our gut–which is affected by what we eat and dictates our response to certain foods. Dr Elinav has found that food additives, such as artificial sweeteners, can interfere with blood sugar levels and may in fact be contributing to the obesity and diabetes epidemic sweeping the world. In addition, significant changes to intestinal bacteria, leading to a tendency to obesity and its complications, occur in those who have long term sleep disruptions, such as shift workers and frequent flyers.

Maria Luz Fernandez, Ph.D.
Professor, Department of Nutritional Sciences
University of Connecticut College of Agriculture, Health & Natural Resources

Email: | Phone: +1 860-486-5547

Maria Luz Fernandez has been a Professor in the Department of Nutritional Sciences at the University of Connecticut since 2003. She is a leading authority on the role of dietary interventions on lipid and lipoprotein metabolism and their effects on dyslipidemias, oxidative stress and inflammation as it relates to cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes. Her use of the guinea pig model for lipoprotein metabolism has supported the elucidation of the mechanisms by which different types of fat, dietary fiber, carbohydrate restricted diets and antioxidants reduce the risk for atherogenic lipoproteins, hepatic steatosis and atherosclerosis. Her research has been supported by the Federal Government, Industry and Food Commodities. She has co-authored 221 peer-reviewed papers, 12 book chapters plus over 220 scientific abstracts. She has been invited to present her research in the international arena including Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Egypt, Ecuador, Korea, Mexico, Panama, Peru, Portugal, Spain, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates. She has graduated 30 Ph.D. and 17 Master’s students who currently have prominent positions in industry and academia.


Atan Gross, Ph.D.
Professor, Department of Biological Regulation
Weizmann Institute of Science

Email: | Phone: +972-8-93656
Atan Gross received his PhD from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He conducted postdoctoral research at Washington University in St Louis and at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute at Harvard Medical School. He joined the Weizmann Institute as a Senior Scientist in 2000 and was promoted to Associate Professor in 2007. His scientific interest focuses on elucidating the mechanisms that balance between cell life and death with a special emphasis on the BCL-2 family members, mitochondria, and the DNA damage response.


Shangqin Guo, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Department of Cell Biology
Yale Stem Cell Center
Yale School of Medicine

Email: | Phone: +972-8-934-2272
The Guo lab at the Yale Stem Cell Center and Department of Cell Biology is interested in understanding the cell fate control mechanisms using hematopoietic progenitors as the model system. They have established a unique live-cell imaging approach to visualize cell fate transitions at single cell resolution. This unique approach led to the discovery of the privileged somatic cells, characterized by an ultrafast cell cycle lasting about 8 hours/cycle. Her lab is currently investigating the molecular underpinning of the privileged cell state and exploring its relevance in disease and therapy. Specifically, they are testing whether cord blood cells contain privileged cells and explore their therapeutic potential since they represent the largest banked human cell types and are presumably in the pristine genetic and epigenetic state.


Kevan Herold, MD
Professor, Department of Immunobiology & Department of Internal Medicine [Endocrinology]
Director, Yale Diabetes Center
Yale School of Medicine

Email: | Phone: +1203.785.6507
Dr. Herold’s research career has focused on translational immunology studies. He trained as a clinical endocrinologist and then pursued research training in basic immunobiology. His research has involved studies of the mechanisms of autoimmune disease in mouse models and studies in patients. The investigations have involved studies of cellular immune responses with a focus on cells and mediators of autoimmune diseases such as type 1 diabetes (T1D). He has also designed and carried out a number of clinical trials, including the initial studies of anti-CD3 mAb in T1D. He has studied the effects of the immune therapy on antigen specific T cells using Class I MHC tetramers with samples from patients in the trials. Thus, his investigative work consistently moves from patients to animal models and back to patients in order to refine and improve novel immune therapies and understand their mechanisms of action. For example, his work has also led to the identification of regulatory CD8+ T cells in patients treated with anti-CD3 mAb as well as studies in humanized mice that identified a novel mechanism whereby the drug induces these regulatory T cells.


Alison Kohan, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Department of Nutritional Sciences
University of Connecticut College of Agriculture, Health & Natural Resources

Email: | Phone: +1 860-486-0866
The Kohan research program focuses on the role of apolipoprotein C-III in mediating cardiovascular disease, and its regulation in the intestine by dietary factors. Major efforts in her research laboratory are focused on: (i) molecular mechanisms of dietary lipid absorption through the gastrointestinal tract, particularly the role of apolipoprotein expression and chylomicron secretion; and (ii) and the influence of plasma lipoproteins, particularly chylomicrons with apoC-III, on metabolic diseases including atherosclerosis and inflammation. Her laboratory has extensive experience in intestinal lipid absorption, lipoprotein synthesis and secretion, plasma lipoprotein metabolism, and more recently she has developed the primary intestinal organoid model for the study of lipoprotein synthesis and secretion. The overall goal of Dr. Kohan’s research is to determine the mechanisms through which intestinal apolipoproteins impact disease in human populations, particularly mtabolic disease and obesity.

yael-kupermanYael Kuperman, Ph.D.
The Sarah and Rolando Uziel Research Associate Chair
Assistant Staff Scientist Department of Veterinary Resources
Weizmann Institute of Science

Email: | Phone: +972-8-934-3644
Yael Kuperman, an Israeli born scientist, completed her B.Sc. in Nutrition and her M.Sc. in biochemistry, at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in 1998 and 2001, respectively. Before continuing her academic studies, Dr. Kuperman worked as a research assistant and clinical dietitian at Diagnostic System Laboratories Israel Ltd. (now part of Beckman Coulter). From 2005 to 2010, she conducted her Ph.D. studies at the Department of Neurobiology at the Weizmann Institute of Science, under the supervision of Prof. Alon Chen. Her research focused on metabolic-related roles of central and peripheral corticotropin-releasing factor receptor type 2 (CRFR2) system. In 2011 Dr. Kuperman joined the Department of Veterinary Resources as the Head of the Weizmann Institute Metabolic Phenotyping facilities. She assists students from various Weizmann research groups in planning, conducting and analyzing data obtained from the metabolic facility. Her personal favorite field of research, in which she conducts her independent studies, is the central regulation of energy homeostasis and neuroendocrinology. In addition, Yael coordinates the activities of the Weizmann Metabolic Research Forum. Yael received the Sir Charles Clore Postdoctoral Fellowship for 2011-2012 and the Chowers Prize, granted by the Israel Endocrine Society in 2012.


David Serreze, Ph.D.
The Jackson Laboratory

Email: | Phone: +1 207-288-6403
The Serreze laboratory investigates the genetic control mechanisms allowing the immune system to recognize and destroy foreign pathogens, but not normal constituents of the body. Defects in these mechanisms underlie many autoimmune diseases, including type 1 diabetes. Using NOD (nonobese diabetic) inbred mice, they are investigating the process through which genes that normally elicit immune responses to foreign intruders can sometimes trigger autoimmune responses against the body's own cells, such as the pancreatic cells that make insulin. They have shown that some genes play a role in type 1 diabetes even when they do not contain deleterious mutations. Instead these are normal genes that only contribute to type 1 diabetes pathology when collected together in a specific fashion. The Serreze laboratory is also investigating defects in the differentiation of a particular type of leukocyte in NOD mice that subsequently allows for the development of autoimmune responses. This work may help identify the mechanisms and compounds that normally prevent autoimmunity, and hence reveal strategies for pharmacological interventions in humans at risk for type 1 diabetes.


Robert Sherwin, MD
C.N.H. Long Professor of Medicine; Section Chief, Endocrinology
Associate Dean for Clinical and Translational Sciences
Yale School of Medicine

Email: | Phone: +1 203-785-4183
Dr. Sherwin graduated from Albert Einstein College of Medicine completed his residency in internal medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital (NY). After initiating his research career in metabolism and diabetes at the NIH, Dr. Sherwin moved to Yale as a postdoctoral fellow and was subsequently appointed to the Yale faculty. He currently serves as the Director of the CTSA-funded Yale Center for Clinical Investigation, the NIDDK-funded Diabetes Research Center, as well as the Chief of the Section of Endocrinology at Yale. His research activities span clinical and basic research and are focused on insulin-induced glucose counterregulation and alterations in brain function accompanying type 1 diabetes during insulin treatment and obesity. His studies dealing with glucose counter-regulation focus on mechanisms regulating hypothalamic glucose sensing and activation of counter-regulatory hormone release, whereas his studies on brain function utilize a variety imaging techniques (fMRI, spectroscopy, and PET) in patients with diabetes and obesity, and have shown major CNS adaptions in these conditions during changes in circulating glucose and insulin. Other work from his lab focused on immunology has led to the isolation of islet-specific T cell clones from type 1 diabetic mice that adoptively transfer diabetes. Dr. Sherwin has served as President of the American Diabetes Association, Chairman of the Medical Science Advisory Board of the JDRF, and served as chair of the FDA Advisory Committee for Endocrinologic and Metabolic Drugs. He has published over 400 articles in peer-reviewed journals. He is the recipient of the American Diabetes Association Banting Award for lifetime scientific achievement, the Novartis Award, Rachmiel Levine Award, Naomi Berrie Award, the Association of Clinical and Translational Science Edward H. Ahrens, Jr. Distinguished Investigator Award, as well as two MERIT Awards from the NIH.

Gerald-ShulmanGerald I Shulman, MD, Ph.D.
George R. Cowgill Professor of Medicine (Endocrinology) and Professor of Cellular And Molecular Physiology
Co-Director, Yale Diabetes Research Center; Director, Yale Mouse Metabolic Phenotyping Center

Email:   |   Phone: +1 203-785-5447
Dr. Shulman is an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Co-Director of the Yale Diabetes Research Center. Dr. Shulman completed his undergraduate studies in biophysics at the University of Michigan, and he received his M.D. and Ph.D. degrees from Wayne State University. Following internship and residency training at Duke University Medical Center, he did an endocrinology fellowship at the Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, and pursued additional postdoctoral work in molecular biophysics and biochemistry at Yale before joining the faculty at Harvard Medical School. He was subsequently recruited back to Yale and has remained there ever since. Dr. Shulman has pioneered the use of magnetic resonance spectroscopy to non-invasively examine intracellular glucose and fat metabolism in humans that have led to several paradigm shifts in our understanding of type 2 diabetes. Dr. Shulman is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and he has been elected to the American Society for Clinical Investigation, the Association of American Physicians, the Institute of Medicine and the National Academy of Sciences.


Michael Stitzel, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
The Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine

Email: | Phone: +1860-837-2431
Type 2 diabetes (T2D) results from the combined contributions of genetic risk and environmental stressors. To dissect the genetic and cellular heterogeneity of islet dysfunction and T2D, the Stitzel laboratory combines epigenomic, transcriptomic, and genome editing approaches. The laboratory is analyzing the epigenomes and transcriptomes of primary human islets from multiple individuals to read-out effects of type 2 diabetes-predisposing DNA sequence variation (T2D GWAS SNPs) on islet gene regulatory elements controlling islet cell identity and function. Emerging evidence suggests that environment, both stimulus and stress conditions, can actually alter a cell's epigenome and lead to abnormal cellular functions. To this end, the Stitzel laboratory is investigating how acute and chronic environmental perturbations alter the islet epigenome to contribute to islet dysfunction. Finally, his laboratory is developing genome editing tools to dissect and manipulate the islet transcriptional regulatory network and to determine how experimental perturbation of islet regulatory elements contributes to their dysfunction and/or demise.


Anthony T. Vella, Ph.D.
Professor and Chair, Boehringer Ingelheim Chair in Immunology
Senior Associate Dean of Research Planning and Coordination,
Department of Immunology
University of Connecticut School of Medicine, UCONN HEALTH

Email: | Phone: +1 860-679-4364
Dr. Vella is the Chairman of the Department of Immunology and Senior Associate Dean of Research Planning and Coordination at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine. He is a leader in innovative research centered on T cell immunobiology. His research program is focused on understanding the basis of immune function during immunization, responses to cancer, and heightened systemic and mucosal inflammation. These studies have led to the development of approaches that boost immune responses by targeting specific T cell costimulatory and cytokine receptor pathways. Currently, the Vella research program is addressing the immunobiology of costimulated or adjuvanted T cells by using cutting edge technology to interrogate their genetic and metabolic programs, while developing approaches to control their behavior and function.


George Weinstock, Ph.D
Professor, Evnin Family Chair and Director of Microbial Genomics
The Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine

Email: | Phone: +1 860-837-2420
Dr. Weinstock leads a research group devoted to genomic studies of infectious diseases and the human microbiome. The group collaborates extensively with clinicians to apply genomic analyses to a wide range of medical problems. The goal of the metagenomics projects is to determine the role of the microbiome in health and disease with the aim of providing new diagnostic and therapeutic approaches. His group played a leading role in the NIH Human Microbiome Project including both basic science and clinical studies and his current research follows on those projects. Dr. Weinstock was previously the co-director of the Human Genome Sequencing Center at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston where he was one of the leaders of the Human Genome Project. He has also directed a number of human and mammalian genetics projects aimed at determining genetic causes of conditions such as Retinitis Pigmentosa, Cleft Lip, susceptibility to infection, or the role of host genetics in control of the microbiome.

Beiyan Zhou, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Department of Immunology
University of Connecticut School of Medicine

Email: | Phone: +1 860-679-7030

Dr. Beiyan Zhou is an associate professor of immunology whose interests are in diabetes, metabolism, and hematology. She holds a Ph.D. in biochemistry/molecular biology from Northwestern University, Master of Science in molecular biology from Peking University, and a Bachelor of Science in biochemistry from Wuhan University, and completed a postdoctoral fellowship in cell and molecular biology at the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Dr. Zhou’s research focuses on understanding the link between immunes and adipose tissue in normal and obese conditions. Incorporating animal models with OMICs-technologies, her laboratory is devoted to understand the mechanisms underlying epigenetic factors, including histone modification and non-coding RNAs, in controlling immune cell functions. Work from my lab has contributed the first discovery of microRNA, miR-223, regulated adipose tissue macrophage polarization and microRNA, miR-150, regulation of B cell formation from hematopoietic stem cells. Her research group has developed various transgenic models and ex vivo characterization systems to critically assess the crosstalk between immune and metabolic compartment in the adipose niche in normal and disease (excess nutrient) states. She received Genzyme Research Award as a postdoc fellow in 2008 and Junior Faculty Award from the American Diabetes Association in 2013.