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Efrat Shema, PhD

Efrat Shema, PhD

Grant Status

Weizmann Institute of Science

Grant Type
Research Career Development Award

Project Title
Deciphering the Epigenome of Gliomas Driven by Oncohistones and IDH Mutations

Tumor Types

Research Topics
Inflammation and Cancer, Melanoma, Pancreatic Cancer

About the Investigator:

Dr. Shema’s research focuses on understanding human genome regulation by development and application of novel single-molecule-based technologies to visualize the epigenome. She received her BSc degree from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and her PhD from the Weizmann Institute.  In 2017, after postdoctoral training at Massachusetts General Hospital and the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, she returned to the Weizmann Institute, where she is now an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biological Regulation.

About the Research:

Malignant gliomas are aggressive tumors of the central nervous system, which are very challenging to treat. Genes are packaged by proteins called histones, which regulate gene activity, and sequencing studies have revealed that many malignant gliomas carry mutations in genes that encode histones, particularly histone H3. Identification of these characteristic histone mutations has made it possible to define clinically specific glioma subtypes, suggesting that the mutant histones drive development of the tumors.  However the underlying mechanisms by which these mutations drive disease are currently poorly understood.

The goal of Dr. Shema’s research is to identify new drug targets and improve future treatments for glioma patients.  To reach this goal, she has recently developed a novel single-molecule technology to study changes in modifications of histones and related proteins that regulate gene expression.  Her team will apply this technology to elucidate how alterations in histone H3 create ‘oncohistones’ that may drive development of pediatric glioma, and how recurrent mutations in the IDH protein may drive development of adult glioma. These analyses will yield new data on genome regulation in cancer, and open the way to new therapeutic opportunities.


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