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January 2, 2023

Rotem Karni, PhD

Hebrew University-Hadassah Medical School

ICRF Research Professorship Grant Recipient

RNA-Based Cancer Treatments Focus of Research Professorship Grant

Rotem Karni, PhD of Hebrew University-Hadassah Medical School spoke to ICRF about how his ICRF-Glazer Foundation Research Professorship Grant will enable him to explore several promising RNA-based technologies to target cancer cells.

As a Research Professorship grantee, can you describe your advances thus far in understanding the role of RNA processing in cancer?

In the past decade or so, my lab discovered the role of several proteins that process RNA to manufacture new proteins (called RNA splicing factors) in cancer development and progression. These discoveries helped us to better understand how cancer cells survive, proliferate and metastasize. The new findings also shed light on new targets for cancer therapy. Based on these discoveries, my lab developed novel RNA-based therapies that intervene in RNA processing within the cancer cells, inhibiting their growth, survival, and invasiveness. These technologies are being commercialized by the Hebrew University and were the basis for three biotech companies founded in the past two years to develop therapies for genetic diseases and cancer.

ICRF support over the years has helped me build my reputation in cancer research.

Professor Rotem Karni
Hebrew University-Hadassah Medical School

How will your five-year research grant support your ambition to develop RNA-based cancer treatments? 

The prestigious ICRF Research Professorship grant will enable me to pursue several cancer research avenues, rather than a single project. We have several promising RNA-based technologies — some target the cancer cells directly, while others enhance the activity of the immune system against cancer cells. Thus, the five-year period and the significant amount of funding will, hopefully, enhance the development of these technologies from the bench to the clinic.  

Your work has been supported by ICRF since 2012. Can you tell us how the organization has been important to you over the years? 

As young investigator, the ICRF RCDA grant was extremely important for developing my independent scientific career. Later on, the funding from the Len & Susan Mark Initiative for Ovarian and Uterine/MMMT Cancers grant helped me to establish myself in the field of ovarian cancer research and to start developing some of our RNA therapeutics technologies. ICRF support over the years has helped me build my reputation as a leader in cancer research.

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