Prof. Karen Avraham
Tel Aviv University, Israel
Professor Karen B. Avraham, PhD, is the incumbent of the Drs. Sarah and Felix Dumont Chair for Research of Hearing Disorders at Tel Aviv University, a faculty member of the Department of Human Molecular Genetics and Biochemistry, and Vice Dean at the Sackler Faculty of Medicine. Dr. Avraham received her BA from Washington University, U.S., PhD at the Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel and post-doctoral training at the National Cancer Institute, Maryland, U.S. Dr. Avraham’s research has centered on the discovery of disease genes, focusing on hereditary deafness. Her group is asking the questions: (1) What are the genes that lead to hearing loss and how are they involved in normal function of the inner ear? (2) How does regulation of gene expression govern the pathways that determine inner ear function and how do alterations in regulation, on a genetic and epigenetic level, contribute to the pathology of deafness? Dr. Avraham leads the effort in exome sequencing for the discovery of disease genes to identify variants that are relevant for the Middle Eastern hearing-impaired population. Her group has demonstrated that non-coding microRNAs are essential for development and function of inner ear hair cells in vertebrates. Dr. Avraham was awarded the Bruno Memorial Prize, the TEVA Prize for Groundbreaking Research in the Field of Rare Diseases, and the Teva Founders Prize on Breakthroughs. She is now President of the Scientific Committee of Agir Pour Audition, a foundation for hearing health based in Paris; of ILANIT, the federation of all the Israel societies for experimental biology; and the Israel Society for Auditory Research. She is a board/council member of I-CORE – Israeli Center of Research Excellence, the Human Genome Organization (HUGO) and of the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO) and elected member of the Collegium Oto-Rhino-Laryngologicum Amicitiae Sacrum (CORLAS).