Aviv Regev, 2019
Photo: Nitzan Zohar
The Schering Stiftung awards the Ernst Schering Prize 2021 Aviv Regev for her innovative combination of computation and biology to create the new field of single cell genomics which led to breakthrough discoveries of gene programs in inflammatory and infectious diseases.
As part of the award ceremony, Aviv Regev will present this year’s Ernst Schering Prize Lecture entitled: Cell Atlases as Roadmaps in Health and Disease. In her lecture, she talks about the cell as the basic units of life and explains her work for the Human Cell Atlas.
Abstract: All the cells of an individual have the same DNA sequence, yet they differ, because in each cell, different genes are expressed from the genome. If a gene’s function is affected and thus leads to malfunction that is the basis of a disease, the disease manifests primarily in those cells where this gene is needed for the cell’s function. Thus, knowing our cells – the genes that act in them and how they differ from each other – is essential for understanding disease.
For the past 150 years, scientists have tried to provide a more exact description of cells: their shape, function, location, and molecules in cells. For a long time, the classification of cells was made based only on the morphology visible through the microscope. Although the DNA has been isolated for the first time in 1869, the first genomes and transcriptomes – the RNA molecules transcribed from active genes in a cell – could only be sequenced one century later, requiring the use of bulk samples, averaging millions of cells together. If each cell is one piece of fruit, this would be akin to studying a handful of blueberries in a fruit smoothie blended together from many other types of fruit.
Aviv Regev was a key pioneer in developing single-cell genomics, which allowed her to look at individual cells – the pieces of fruit within a fruit salad, instead of a smoothie. Thanks to the continual refinement of the methodology and combined with even newer spatial techniques and powerful machine learning algorithms, Regev can now map and characterize tens of millions of cells. She analyzes where they reside within tissues, the molecular circuits that control them, and how they maintain our tissues in health and malfunction in disease. This way, she succeeded in, among other things, identifying cells and genes that drive tumor growth and those that are responsible for resisting treatment. Her outstanding work has laid the foundation for the Human Cell Atlas, which is now being used and refined by numerous scientists worldwide with the goal of mapping and characterizing all cells of the human body under physiological and pathological conditions.
The bioinformatician Aviv Regev receives the Ernst Schering Prize 2021 for her research in the field of single-cell analysis and the innovative combination of biology and computer science.Learn more
Aviv Regev is Executive Vice President and Global Head of Genentech Research and Early Development at the biotechnology company Genentech, a member of the Roche Group. Prior to Genentech, Regev served as founding director of the Klarman Cell Observatory at the Broad Institute, Professor of Biology at MIT, and Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. She is a founding co-chair of the Human Cell Atlas. Aviv Regev has pioneered the development of foundational experimental and computational methods in single-cell genomics and is a leader in deciphering molecular circuits that govern cells, tissues, and organs in health and disease. Among many honors, she is an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Medicine in the United States.Close
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