Autism Research Community
Below is a list of autism researchers in Israel who have been actively participating in the Israeli Meeting for Autism Research that is held annually at BGU.
Click on the letters on the left to quickly navigate by family name.
Dr. Haitham Amal
Dr. Haitham Amal is an Assistant Professor at the Institute for Drug Research, School of
Pharmacy, Faculty of Medicine, The Hebrew University.
The Amal Lab combines advanced omics technologies with computational biology, biochemical, biological, pharmacological, and large set of behavioral tools to study autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Their ultimate goal is to understand the molecular mechanisms and discover novel therapeutic targets for the disorder. Further, the Amal lab is interested in the role of nitric oxide (NO), S-nitrosylation (the NO–mediated posttranslational modification), and phosphorylation in ASD. The Amal Lab uses both clinical blood samples as well as transgenic mouse models to dissect the pathological signaling pathways and discover novel biomarkers in ASD.
Dr. Adi Aran
Dr. Adi Aran is the Director of the pediatric neurology unit at Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem. He specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and related genetic disorders. His research is focused on the endocannabinoid system involvement in ASD and related genetic disorders and the evaluation of new therapies for the treatment of these disorders. Dr. Aran serves as a board member on the Israeli Society for Pediatric Neurology and is a member of the International Society for Autism Research. He completed his Medial Studies at the Hebrew University and continued to Postdoctoral research fellowship at Stanford, CA. Dr. Aran is a pioneer in the research of medical cannabis in Autism, a subject that is currently receiving public attention worldwide. The Jerusalem Center for Autism treatment and research (JCA) in Shaare Zedek Medical Center is leading the worldwide efforts to assist the most severe patients and their families by suggesting the option of medical marijuana. This treatment has potentially better efficacy and tolerability compared with the standard treatment and we explore its effects in large, state-of-the-art studies that include hundreds of patients.
Dr. Boaz Barak
Dr. Boaz Barak's lab focuses on understanding how genes, molecular processes, and brain regions regulate social and anxiety-related behaviors in health and illness. Their research focuses on understanding how these factors are disrupted in genetic neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism and Williams syndrome. We aspire to translate findings from our basic research to clinical aspects that will ultimately improve the diagnosis, understanding, and treatment of neurological and psychiatric disorders.
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Prof. Esther Ben-Itzchak
Prof. Esther Ben-Itzchak is Associate Professor and the head of the MA program in the Communication Disorders Department of Ariel University, and the Head of the Bruckner Center for Research in Autism. Prof. Ben-Itzchak's main fields of interests include evaluating the effectiveness of several intervention programs for children (i.e. intensive behavioral, dog training, robot programming) and young adults (i.e. integration program for university students with ASD, soldiers with ASD at the “Roim Rachok”/Looking Far Ahead); long-term follow-up studies of adolescents diagnosed as toddlers on the autism spectrum; electrophysiological responses to emotion word stimuli among people with ASD; and development of devices to help in intervention and daily life (i.e. “Smart Glove”, “Ezer Lavish” bracelet). Prof. Ben-Itzchak has published numerous peer-reviewed manuscripts and several chapters in books, and has presented her work at many national and international meetings and conferences.
Prof. Nirit Bauminger - Zviely
Prof. Nirit Bauminger-Zviely's is the Head of the graduate program for autism studies at the school of education at Bar-Ilan University. Her ASD research laboratory is at the forefront of basic and applied research on the social-emotional development and peer relations of children affected by ASD including novel manualized evidenced-based social interventions. Over the last two decades, prof. Bauminger-Zviely developed multidimensional evidenced-based social intervention as well as assessment procedures and scales to evaluate the ASD social phenotype. Prof. Bauminger-Zviely is the author of the book "social and academic abilities in children with HFASD", and the author of numerous book chapters and journal articles as well as national and international presentations on the field of ASD and peers relations, friendship, social intervention, social emotions, social cognition, and social communication.
Prof. Yoram Bonneh
Prof. Yoram Bonneh is an Associate Professor at the School of Optometry and Vision Science at Bar-Ilan University. Prof. Bonneh combines extensive research experience in visual psychophysics, electrophysiology and brain disorders such as amblyopia (lazy eye), stroke-induced neglect, and autism with extensive experience in software development and technological innovation. He currently heads a lab that studies vision and brain disorders, with a primary focus on involuntary eye movements that allow measuring various perceptual and cognitive functions remotely and in passive viewing. His study of autism focuses on the sensory, perceptual and motor impairment of the severely autistic, with a particular long-term interest in individuals with minimally verbal autism who show paradoxically high cognition. Bonneh has published over 40 papers in high-impact journals in the fields of vision, autism and brain disorders.
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Dr. Rachel-Shlomit Brezis
Dr. Rachel-Shlomit Brezis is a developmental psychologist specializing in autism – at the nexus of biology, psychology, and culture. She currently works both as a lecturer in Psychology at the Interdisciplinary Center, Herzliya, and as an intern in Developmental Psychology at the Child Development Center, Leumit Health Services, Jerusalem. Dr. Brezis completed her Ph.D. in Comparative Human Development at the University of Chicago in 2011. Her dissertation work examined the development of social and non-social memory in children and adolescents with autism, using qualitative interviews, clinical assessments and fMRI. She was then awarded a Postdoctoral Fellowship from the Foundation for Psychocultural Research at the University of California, Los Angeles, and directed a series of research projects on children and adults with autism in India in collaboration with Action for Autism, the National Center for Autism, India. More recently, her research has turned to the embodied aspects of autism, with studies on joint improvisation and a mindfulness-based biofeedback intervention, conducted at the Sagol Center for Brain and Mind, IDC Herzliya and the Beit-Ekstein network of group homes. She received the German-Israel Foundation (GIF) Young Investigator Award for her research.
Dr. Julie Carmel
The Israel Registry and Biobank of Autism (IRBA) was founded in 2015, to promote the ASD research in Israel. The long term objective of IRBA is to find specific associations between various ASD phenotypes, genetic and environment factors. The participants are 3-45 years old, ASD-diagnosed, or their siblings. The collected samples are salivary, blood and feces. The families fill an epidemiological questionnaire and receive an opportunity to perform ADOS test for quantification of autism traits. By now 60 families are enrolled and another 40 are waiting for our visit, most of them citizens of the North of Israel. An additional program examining the microbiome of autistic children using samples from IRBA collection is currently starting.
Dr. Gary Diamond
Gary Diamond, M.D. is a Director in Blumental Center for Child Development
Clalit Health Services, Bene Beraq, Kfar Kassem and Child Development Center Schneider Children's Medical Center Petah Tiqva, Israel
Prof. Ilan Dinstein
Ilan Dinstein is an Associate Professor of Psychology and Cognitive & Brain Sciences at BGU. Ilan and his students use neuroimaging techniques including MRI and EEG to better understand brain function and structure during early autism development, with a strong focus on 1-4 years old toddlers. Projects include the acquisition of overnight EEG recordings and MRI scans from toddlers during natural sleep.
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Prof. Esther Dromi
Prof. Esther Dromi is a speech therapist, researcher and lecturer at the school of education at Tel Aviv University. Her main areas of research in ASD include families of children with ASD, collaboration between parents and clinicians, siblings of children with ASD, BAP and parents stress and family interventions. Other fields of interest are inclusion of children with ASD in regular school programs, Benefits of typical classmates and factors that determine friendships, pragmatics of early words, development of early lexicon in typically developing and children with ASD.
Dr. Even Elliott
Dr. Even Elliott’s lab of molecular neuroscience seeks to understand the molecular and biological mechanisms involved in the development of autism spectrum disorders. By parallel analysis of postmortem brain tissue, pharmacological studies in autism animal models, and biomarker analysis of children diagnosed with autism, we aim to find novel biomarkers or therapeutic targets for subgroups of individuals with autism. Two of our main current efforts include the establishment and maintenance of the autism biobank and the role of the microbiome in the development of autism. The autism biobank and registry is collecting biological samples, epidemiological information, and clinical information from families. In initial microbiome studies, we found that probiotic treatment of an autism mouse model with a specific bacteria, Lactobacillus Reuteri, can attenuate many autism symptoms. These findings were recently replicated in a seperate laboratory in the United States. Current research is being performed both on the microbiome composition in individuals in the autism biobank and in separate worldwide populations with the genetic predisposition to autism.
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Dr. Sigal Eden
Dr. Sigal Eden is a senior lecturer and researcher in the Department of Special Education and Educational Technologies at Bar-Ilan University. She is also the Head of the General Special Education Program for MA, and the Head of the Ethic Committee at the School of Education. Her work focus on promoting people with special needs through the use of technology. She conducted several studies among children with ASD, mainly intervention programs that enhance language, communication and cognitive abilities.
Dr. Tamir Epstein
Dr. Tamir Epstein is a senior psychiatrist, head and founder of an adult developmental disabilities unit. During his psychiatric residency, he founded an adult ADHD clinic (Focus) and shortly after an adult autism clinic (Keshet). In 2012 he won a contract, established and managed a diagnostic center for adults and children suspected with having autism and/or intellectual disability at Sheba Medical Center, operating under the State of Israel's Ministry of Welfare and Social Services. Recognizing the lack of services for adults with intellectual disability, he developed in 2015 a dedicated clinic for this population (Lotus). These clinics employ multidisciplinary teams engaged in clinical services and training, service development and research projects. Dr. Epstein has ties to national autism spectrum advocacy organizations and acted as a psychiatrist for several centers for assisted living and permanent residence for adults with autism spectrum disorder with varying degrees of functioning.
Dr. Ally Eran
Dr. Ally Eran is a senior lecturer in the Department of Life Sciences at Ben Gurion University. Her research focuses on autism genomics: understanding the molecular mechanisms that underlie autism spectrum disorder and how they may be leveraged for improved care for families with autism. Ally’s work integrates large scale patient data from various sources not only to test scientific hypotheses but also to train predictive models for specific clinical goals. She received her Ph.D. in Bioinformatics and Integrative Genomics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Prof. Elena Even-Simkin
Dr. Elena Even-Simkin is a psycholinguist and diagnostician with the background in
neuroscience, psychotherapy and cognitive behavioral therapy. Her main fields of research
include the study of the linguistic, cognitive and pragmatic abilities in neurotypical individuals
and in children, adolescents and adults with learning disabilities, neurodevelopmental disorders
and ASD. Her research aims at improving the understanding of the cognitive mechanisms that
underlie communication deficits in these clinical populations, in general, and neurological basis
of figurative language comprehension difficulties among individuals with ASD, in particular. Her
recent studies explore the novel methods of assessment and treatments of ASD at the
pragmatic level allowing therapists to identify and effectively implement the appropriate
communicative integration programs.
Dr. Hagit Flusser
Dr. Hagit Fluser is the head of Zusman Institute for Child Development, the biggest center in southern Israel for comprehensive follow up and treatment of children with developmental problems. The large integrated team of physicians, psychologists, physiotherapists, speech therapists, and occupational therapists deal with the diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation of children with autism and other neurologic disorders. Over the past decade, the institute collaborated with the Genetic Center elucidating the genetic mutations and molecular basis of several human diseases. For the past 4 years, they collaborate with the Negev Autism Center at the Ben Gurion University in the Negev.
Dr. Lidia V. Gabis
Dr. Lidia V. Gabis is the director of the Weinberg Child Development, founder of the Keshet Center for Autism diagnosis treatment and research and a Senior Researcher at the faculty of Medicine at Sackler School of Medicine at Tel Aviv University. Her main area of research is autism-related disorders and causes mainly prematurity, brain malformations, and Fragile X Syndrome. Her clinical interests in autism pertain with early detection and intervention from before birth through infancy, as well as interventions and treatments. She initiated and conducted several pharmacological studies, and recently summarized the results of a randomized trial of Donepezil and Choline, an investigator-initiated combination, and we proved a positive effect on language for children with ASD. The main collaborations are with the Seaver Center at Mount Sinai Hospital in the area of rare genetic disorders related to autism, with Prof. Baron- Cohen at Cambridge on the area of prenatal diagnosis and with Dr. Ben Robins at Hammersmith in the area of robotic intervention. In addition, she is involved with policy directives and a member of Health Department interoffice committees.
Dr. Eynat Gal
Dr. Eynat Gal is an occupational therapist, her research focuses in Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), with a main interest in repetitive and restricted behaviors and interests, including sensory processing disorders, which was both the topic of her Ph.D. and currently, of a book she co-edits for Springer. Her current research interest focuses on pain perception of adults with ASD, work accessibility for adults with ASD and eating problems of children with ASD. With various colleagues in Israel and abroad, Gal has developed and validated various assessments addressing the above- mentioned topics including: "My-CASE": Child Assessment of Sensory Experiences, “Aut-Eat” for assessing eating problems of children with ASD, and a recent battery of assessments for work rehabilitation: Autism Work Skills Questionnaire (AWSQ), Work Performance Questionnaire (WPQ) and Work Accessibility Questionnaire (WAQ). These tools are in use in Israel USA and Australia, thus opening the door for successful inclusion of these people in the world of work, by allowing therapists to identify an optimal person-job match.
Dr. Tali Gev
Dr. Tali Gev is a clinical psychologist who specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of autism. Her research focuses on manualized intervention methods. As a certified Early Start Denver Model (ESDM) therapist she leads the implementation of the method in Israeli community preschools for children with ASD while exploring the effectiveness and outcomes of the method.
Noa Ginossar is a clinical psychologist, a Chief psychologist of the Child Service Division of ALUT. Noa is an adjunct teacher in the school of Education at Bar Ilan University, where she teaches master level courses in Autism. She is a faculty member of the “new wave” integrative psychotherapy school, Interdisciplinary academic center (IDC), Herzelia. There she teaches trauma-informed treatment for children and adults. In addition, she trains Child-Parent Psychotherapy, in the Haruv Institute, Jerusalem. Noa is interested in understanding the ways attachment relationships modulate the neurological developmental pathways in Autism. In her clinical work, Noa works with children and parents in attachment-based intervention approach with video feedback. Noa wrote a chapter in a book edited by prof Esther Cohen conceptualizing parental therapy with parents of autistic children. The chapter reviews comprehensive literature in the field and adds to that new conceptualization of five paradoxical themes that parents face when raising a child with Autism. Her other interest is in CTM- comprehensive treatment model in Autism and training professionals for fidelity to intervention.
Prof. Hava Golan
Prof. Hava Golan is a faculty member in the Physiology and Cell Biology department at BGU. Hava and her students study how in-utero hypoxia-ischemia, inflammation, and antiepileptic medications affect brain development in animal models. A current research focus is on the potential role of maternal/fetal one-carbon metabolism in autism. Hava studies both genetically deficient animal models and human mothers with genetic polymorphisms that confer susceptibility.
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Prof. Ofer Golan
Prof. Ofer Golan ia a clinical psychologist, an associate professor and the head of the Autism Research Lab at the Department of Psychology, Bar-Ilan University. His research focuses on socio-emotional functioning in ASD, including social skills, emotion recognition, expression and regulation, and ways to develop them through parent focused, cognitive-behavioral, and technological interventions.
Prof. Golan is the founder and the clinical advisor of the Bait Echad ASD Centers in Tel-Aviv and Kfar Saba. These centers, operated by The Association for Children at Risk, provide evidence-based diagnostis and intervention services to children, adolsecnets and adults with ASD and their families, and in addition train clinicians and disseminate evidence-based interventions nationwide.
Prof. Golan is a member of the expert committee, which advises the Israeli Ministry of Health on ASD best practice. He is the chair of the National Autism Research Center’s steering committee.
Prof. Illana Gozes
Prof. Ilana Gozes published over 300 papers in neuroscience, is the inventor of many patents and won many awards of excellence. Her laboratory concentrates on syndromic autism, the ADNP (activity-dependent neuroprotective protein) syndrome and the ADNP derived drug candidate CP201 (NAP, davunetide). Prof. Gozes discovered CP201 (NAP, davunetide), a clinical drug candidate targeted at the rare disease indication, the ADNP syndrome (founded Allon Therapeutics and currently Chief Scientific Officer at Coronis Neurosciences). Professor Gozes also discovered ADNP, an essential protein for brain formation implicated in autism, schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s disease and cancer. CP201 is a snippet of ADNP, enhancing ADNP’s protective activity. The Gozes laboratory aims to unravel ADNP/CP201 functions in comparison to other autism-linked genes. Coronis Neurosciences is developing CP201 for the ADNP syndrome.
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Yael Harel is a neuro-pediatric physical therapist, instructor and the head of the physical therapy department in the Autism Treatment and Research Center, the Association for Children at Risk. Our motto in respect to clinical and research work with children with ASD is twofold; this children experience difficulties in motor development and physical therapy should be applied to advance their development. Yael established the physical therapy department a decade ago and presently physical therapists serve as an integral part of the health professional team of the Autism Treatment and Research Center. In her publications Yael demonstrated the beneficial effects of physical therapy intervention on motor development of children with ASD and the adverse impact of subclinical infantile thiamine deficiency on motor development in pre-school children. Recently, Yael submitted her Ph.D. thesis, which was conducted in the School of Health Professions of the Tel-Aviv University. Her study aimed at the association between balance and anxiety in children with high functioning autism. Present fields of interest are development of tests for evaluation of motor development in autism, testing the effectiveness of motor intervention strategies and the involvement of parents in the process of motor learning in children with ASD.
Dr. Orly Kerub
Dr. Orly Kerub is a senior supervisor nurse in the Ministry of Health in the Southern District, Israel. She is responsible for the preventive service in the maternal and child health clinics in the eastern Negev.
She received her Ph.D from Ben Gurion University of the Negev, which focused on writing a service model for detecting toddlers with ASD from the Bedouin population in the Negev.
Her postdoc is being done at Ben Gurion University of the Negev in conjunction with Drexel University in Philadelphia. Her current research focuses on early growth and developmental signs that predict autism.
The study is based on the stages of growth, motor and social development of children with ASD, compared to children with normal development of the Jewish and Bedouin population in the Negev.
Prof. Tali Kimchi
The studies at Prof. Tali kimchi’s laboratory focus on dissecting the neuronal and molecular mechanisms underlying ASD-related behavioral phenotype in mouse models while using multidisciplinary methodologies. Her laboratory has pioneered a cutting-edge automated system, which enables monitoring a large group of behaving and interacting mice under semi-natural conditions, for extended periods of time. Such conditions resemble natural conditions in the wild and allow the development and display of complex social behaviors that could not have been investigated otherwise. In addition, they were able to demonstrate the success of several distinct neurobiological interventions in alleviating autism-related behavioral symptoms in a mouse model of ASD (BTBR) by administration of an acetylcholinesterase inhibitor. Another important area of their research concerns a better understanding of the interaction between environmental influences and genetic susceptibility to ASD. In this project, we test the relationship between imbalanced nutrition (e.g. high-fed diet) and ASD-related behavioral phenotypes.
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Dr. Yael Kimhi
Dr. Yael Kimhi is currently the Acting Rector of the Levinsky College of Education. She was the Head of the Excellence Program and taught special education both at the Levinsky College of Education and at Bar Ilan University. Her main field of research is the academic and cognitive development in the autism spectrum (ASD), teacher training in general and for ASD pupils specifically. Prior to her academic positions, she was a special education inspector and a referent inspector for ASD at the Ministry of Education in the Central district of Israel. She was a former leading national ASD counselor in Israel, leading both segregated and inclusive models for pupils with special needs and ASD.
Dr. Arad Kodesh
Dr. Arad Kodesh is a psychiatrist by training, head of mental health at Meuhedet and a Senior Lecturer at the University of Haifa. In his work, he integrates clinical and research experience on autism. At Meuhedet Health Services, he developed an Autism register. This register leads to an NIH grant on Autism awarded to the University of Haifa that he is a co-investigator of. A case-cohort study was established by linking health care registers from the Meuhedet health care organization that covers 35% of Israelis until the age of 15 years. Linked health care registers included the Family Relations Register, the Diagnostic Classification Register, and the Prescription Register. The main objective of his studies is to examine the associations between the use of vitamins and medications (e.g. antidepressants) before and during pregnancy and the risk of ASD in offspring.
Prof. Yoav Kohn
Prof. Yoav Kohn is the Director of the Donald Cohen Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Department at Jerusalem Mental Health Center, Eitanim. He is a Clinical Associate Professor of Psychiatry at the Hebrew University-Hadassah School of Medicine, where he served as Chair of the Department (2013-2017). Prof. Kohn earned his MD at Hebrew University-Hadassah School of Medicine and trained as an Adult and Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist at Hadassah Medical Center. Since early in his career Prof. Kohn has been involved in research in biological psychiatry focusing on psychiatric genetics. He is interested in the use of isolated populations, large inbred pedigrees and extreme phenotypes to identify genetic variants with large effect on the phenotype of severe psychiatric disorders. Prof. Kohn trained in research at Yale University Child Study Center and Genetics Department. He was invited to spend a sabbatical as a visiting Associate Professor at the Psychiatry Department of Stanford University. He is Cahir of the Israel Society for Biological Psychiatry and a Deputy Editor for the Israel Journal of Psychiatry.
Dr. Judah Koller
In his research Dr. Judah Koller takes two distinct but related directions. First, the phenotypic heterogeneity of children with ASD at the time of initial diagnosis. Correlates include societal and familial factors as well as systemic mechanisms such as screening practice and professional/public awareness of autism symptomatology. This work is geared towards children receiving the earliest possible stable diagnosis as a stepping-stone to subsequent intervention. The second direction includes families and systems as mechanisms for understanding phenotypic heterogeneity. Currently, He is interested in using parent behavior to interpret variability in symptom expression and as a potential mechanism for intervention. In clinical practice, he specialize in differential diagnosis of young children with complex clinical presentations as well as in developmental follow-up of young children with ASD.
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Prof. Stephen Levine
Prof. Stephen Levine is a Full Professor at the University of Haifa. He has a background in psychometrics, now focuses on psychiatric epidemiology and has over 100 publications. Stephen with his colleagues and students draw on the strengths of national and multinational registries of big data on healthcare to study neurodevelopment. These registries include information on medications, diagnoses and family trees that he uses to improve understanding the risk of neurodevelopmental disorders. In particular, Stephen focuses on how paternal characteristics at conception and maternal characteristics in pregnancy impact child neurodevelopment.
Dr. Rafi Lottner
Dr. Rafi Lottner is a clinical psychologist, Deputy Director of Department of Autism at Mental Health Services of the Ministry of Health of Israel. The Department is in charge of developing and advancing the treatment of children, teenagers, and adults who have been diagnosed with Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD). The department sets standards of treatment, and monitors programs across the country to make sure that the highest standards of care are met. They work towards promoting intergovernmental cooperation so that there is consistency and continuity of care while cooperating with public and parent organizations who represent autistic children and their families.
Prof. David Mankuta
Prof. David Mankuta is a Fetal-Maternal Medicine physician working at Hadassah Ein Kerem Medical Center and the Hebrew University Faculty of Medicine and. His research and clinical interests focus on processes during pregnancy affecting the fetal's brain. Specifically, he examines environmental, hormonal, nutritional and other biologic factors increasing the risk of this fetus to have Autism upon childhood. He provides clinical consultation service to parents with one child with ASD planning to have another child in order to potentially reduce the risk of ASD in the subsequent child.
Dr. Nira Mashal
Dr. Nira Mashal investigates the neurological basis of language processing, particularly that of figurative language, in neurotypicals and special individuals, including people with ASD, schizophrenia, learning disabilities and intellectual disabilities. These special groups evince difficulties with pragmatics that may lead to communication difficulties and inefficient ways of dealing with social situations in which pragmatic understanding is required. The broad field of her research includes investigation of the cognitive mechanisms that allow proper processing of figurative (non-literal) language, using a variety of methods and techniques; behavioral studies, neurostimulation, and neuroimaging. Her studies aim to develop cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) programs aimed to enhance social skills, pragmatics, and reduce social anxiety in ASD.
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Dr. Tal Mazor-Karsenty
Dr. Tal Mazor-Karsenty is an occupational therapist and lecturer at the Hebrew University School of Occupational Therapy. Tal’s broad research interests focus on sensory modulation in neurodevelopmental disorders and on autism as a multidimensional health condition. Her current research efforts focus on developing and implementing intervention programs for parents of children and adolescents with autism. In this area of her research is the OT.Parentship protocol, a short-term occupational therapy intervention for parents of adolescents with HFASD that aims to promote parental resilience and enhance adolescents' participation in daily life. It is a family-tailored intervention, customized for the unique needs of each family. Its primary goal is to lead parents into recognition and understanding of their adolescent's multi-dimensional personal profile, which includes sensorimotor, cognitive-behavioral, and social-communicative components.
Dr. Gal Meiri
Dr. Gal Meiri is the head of the Preschool Psychiatry Unit at Soroka Medical Center and a faculty member of the BGU Medical School. Together with his staff, Gal diagnoses approximately 150 new autism cases annually and performs follow-up assessments of the children until the age of 8. Gal studies the prevalence of autism in the Bedouin community with a focus on understanding cross-cultural social, genetic, and environmental risk factors. In addition Gal has initiated a new program to implement MCHAT screening tools in the Negev.
Dr. Idan Menashe
Dr. Idan Menashe is a faculty member in the Public Health Department at BGU. Idan and his students use integrated epidemiological, statistical, and bioinformatics approaches to study the effects of genetic and non-genetic risk factors contributing to ASD etiology. Projects include a focus on revealing ASD prevalence, exposure to risk factors, and genetic variations in the Bedouin population and assessment of the effect of prenatal air pollution on the risk of ASD in Israel.
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Mica Melamed is a rehabilitation psychologist by training. Throughout the years she worked in the field of treatment and diagnosis of autism for a wide range of ages and levels of functioning. She have been on the staff of ALUT's Autism Center since its establishment. In the past, she provided professional guidance to rehabilitative preschools (ALUTAF), was on the staff of the child development institute at Assaf Harofe medical center, and led trainings for the educational-therapeutic staff in schools and preschools. Currently she manages the professional unit, which provides treatment to adults in ALUT's residential and employment centers. The unit includes behavior analysts and paramedical staff, and works toward creating intervention programs to advance skills and lessen challenging behaviors, based on behavioral rehabilitative principles. Her work and research interest are clinical aspects of learning processes in adults, primarily those on the low functioning end of the spectrum, imparting knowledge and cognitive and academic abilities, along with adaptive functioning skills for independence and social-communication skills.
Dr. Aviva Mimouni-Bloch
Dr. Aviva Mimouni-Bloch is a child neurologist and developmental pediatrician. She is the director of the Pediatric Neurology and Developmental Unit of the Loewenstein Rehabilitation Hospital in Raanana. She is Senior Lecturer at the Sackler medical school of Tel Aviv University. She was the elected chairman of the Israeli Society of Child Development and Rehabilitation 2008-2010. She is a member of the committee of the Israeli Society of Developmental Pediatrics since 2012. She is collaborating with Prof. Eti Dromi and Alona Oren Ph.D. in research on the early development of verbal and nonverbal behaviors of children diagnosed with Autistic Spectrum Disorder in comparison to Typically Developing children.
Prof. Daniel Offen
Prof. Daniel Offen is a professor at Felsenstein Medical Research Center, Sackler School of Medicine and Sagol School of Neuroscience. In his research, he uses BTBR and Shank3 mutated mice to study autistic-like behaviors. They founded that transplantation of human bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) to the lateral ventricles of BTBR mice results in long-lasting improvement in their autistic behavioral phenotypes. Recent studies point exosomes as the main mediators of the therapeutic effect of MSC. Recently they were able to demonstrate that intranasal administration of MSC-exosomes increased male to male social interaction and reduced repetitive behaviors. Moreover, the treatment led to increases of male to female ultrasonic vocalizations and significant improvement in maternal behaviors of pup retrieval. No negative symptoms were detected following MSC-exosomes intranasal treatments in these mice. Recently, Stem Cell Medicine Ltd., an Israeli biotechnology company, has licensed this technology. We hope that the marked beneficial effects of the exosomes in mice models will translate to a novel, non-invasive, and therapeutic strategy to reduce the symptoms of ASD.
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Dr. Son Peminger
Dr. Son Preminger is a neuroscientist and a social entrepreneur in the field of brain-plasticity and digital therapy. Most recently she founded and headed Intendu, a startup that developed cognitive-motor rehabilitation software for people with brain impairments. Previously she was an assistant professor at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya (IDC) studying executive functions and their plasticity. Currently her research focuses on studying eye movements in dynamic and interactive environments, as a window to cognitive, social and emotional processes. The goals of the research are to improve the understanding of implicit communication deficits and to develop novel effective methods for assessment and treatment of ASD.
Dr. Raanan Raz
Dr. Raanan Raz is an epidemiologist with background in neuroscience and computer science. The studies he and his team run aim to describe and understand the epidemiology of ASD using the database they established at the National Insurance Institute for research purposes. For example, they study incidence trends of ASD in Israel and associations with pregnancy, birth, familial, demographic and socio-economic factors, in order to reveal how these factors act together in the true and diagnosed incidence of ASD. Another line of research is environmental factors increasing the risk for ASD. With this, his lab has mapped the spatio-temporal incidence of ASD in Israel at a high resolution, and examined associations with exposure to common air pollutants like particles and traffic-related markers - an effort that is still on-going.
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Dr. Ruth Rosenan
Dr. Ruth Rosenan is an experimental psychologist, researched and behavior analyst at the Weinberg Child Development Center, Edmond and Lily Safra children's hospital, Sheba medical center, Tel Hashomer. Her prime interest is in exploring efficacy of novel treatments addressing social skills including emotional expressions understanding and ToM among young children with ASD in various function levels. Other than that, she hopes to engage in efficacy studies estimating the benefit of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) to young children with serious developmental disorders other than ASD in the future.
Dr. Maayan Salton
The Salton lab at the Hebrew University’s Faculty of Medicine investigates pre-mRNA splicing. Alternative splicing patterns are unique in the brains of autistic people. With that in mind, the lab studies ASD that is caused by a mutation in the splicing machinery. They use iPS reprogramed from patients’ fibroblasts and generate mouse models to study splicing in tissues relevant to ASD. Their previous work has identified intron retention as a central event in splicing regulation in ASD-associated genes. The vision of the lab is to use RNA therapy to alter the splicing that promotes ASD in the brain of autistic individuals.
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Dr. Yoram Sandhaus
Dr. Yoram Sandhaus is a physician working at the Child Development Centers in Sheba Medical Center and Clalit Dan Petach Tikva district, affiliated to the Dept. of Medical Education of The Sackler Faculty of Medicine in Tel Aviv University. In his research and clinical work, Dr. Yoram Sandhaus focuses on Autism Clinical Screening in underdeveloped communities and societies. Another field he is interested in is the evaluation of adolescents who are suspected to be in the autistic spectrum, this population is more difficult to diagnose in younger ages since in many cases they do not present full-blown DSM 5 criteria in younger ages and escape "under the radar" until further social "burdens" that cause their "socio-communicative insufficiency".
Prof. Simone G. Shamay-Tsoory
Prof. Simone Shamay-Tsoory is a Full Professor in the Psychology Department at the University of Haifa. She received her PhD from the University of Haifa and then completed post-doctoral training at the Behavioral Neurology Unit at Rambam Medical Center. Her research focuses on the neural basis of empathy with a particular emphasis on psychopathology including autism.
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Dr. Niva Shefer-Kaufmann
Dr. Niva Shefer-Kaufmann is a physician who specializes in pediatrics. For the past few years, she works as a developmental pediatrician in The Child Development Centre of "Clalit" HMO in Tel-Aviv, diagnosing hundreds of infants and children with ASD and other developmental disorders every year. Her special interest is in minimally verbal children and young adults with ASD, who are typically judged as 'low-functioning' or cognitively impaired, yet she believes they have much higher cognition than assumed. In collaboration with prof. Yoram Bonneh from Bar-Ilan
University, she investigates the cognitive abilities of the minimally verbal children using eye-tracking and involuntary behavior.
Prof. Sagiv Shifman
Sagiv Shifman is an Associate Professor in the Department of Genetics at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel. He has been working continuously to decipher the genetic signatures of complex and poorly understood neuropsychiatric disorders by looking at new areas and developing novel methods. His lab focuses on gene involved in neurodevelopmental disorders, especially autism spectrum disorders (ASD), using new functional genomics technologies, cell biology approaches, and mouse models. His current research moves away from studies of single genes to model the interactions between multiple susceptibility loci, focusing on chromatin regulators associated with ASD. Since we are aiming to understand how the different perturbations affect the neural circuitry that lead to cognitive and social deficits, we are also studying mouse models with mutations in ASD genes.
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Prof. Cory Shulman
Prof. Cory Shulman’s research interests are an extension of more than thirty years of clinical work with individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and focus on children, adolescents, and adults with ASD and other neurodevelopmental disorders, including the examination of life course trajectories of children with a suspicion of autism, by characterizing diagnostic and developmental trajectories and profiles. Currently, she heads a large research project examining differences between boys and girls with ASD diagnoses, as well as a project looking at differences among autism profiles among those receiving a diagnosis in early childhood, school-age, adolescence or adulthood. Characterizing these groups will help to identify if they present significantly different profiles.
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Dr. Nufar Sukenik
Dr. Nufar Sukenik’s research focuses on the linguistic abilities of children with ASD as well as academic functioning. Her previous studies have assessed the comprehension and production abilities of children with ASD at a word, sentence and paragraph level. Another comprehensive study focused on the lexical semantic abilities of children with ASD and the relationship of these abilities to other linguistic domains, namely syntax. In both studies a comparison to children with Developmental Language Disorder (DLD) was made in order to explore the claim that the linguistic deficits in ASD are a sub-type of DLD. Her recent projects explored the effects of social interaction on lexical semantic production as well as a wide assessment of reading skills of Hebrew speaking children with ASD.
Dr. Orit E. Stolar
Dr. Orit Stoller is a pediatric neurologist working as the clinical director of the Early Childhood Services at the Autism Center. The Autism Center is a national center that is involved in the diagnosis, treatment and research of autism spectrum disorders, which is a combined project of Assaf Harofeh Medical Center and ALUT (The Israeli National Association for Children with Autism)). Dr. Stolar is the Medical Director of the Early Intervention Program "Alutaf" which consists of eleven daycare centers for treating toddlers with ASD. She established and directed a multi-disciplinary eating disorder clinic for children with ASD (active until 2015) and established a pharmacological clinic at the Autism Center for children with ASD.
Dr. Shlomo Wagner
EDr. Shlomo Wagner’s lab explores molecular, neuronal and network mechanisms underlying social behavior of rodents. Specifically, they aim to reveal modified brain activity leading to impairments in social behavior, such as those found in autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Additionally, they explore the brain oxytocinergic system and the ways by which it modulates mammalian social behavior. For these proposes, they developed a wide repertoire of research methodologies, including novel experimental systems and behavioral paradigms, in vivo and in vitro electrophysiological techniques and various molecular tools. Previously, they used telemetric electrophysiological systems for recording coordinated neural activity in social memory-associated brain areas during social interactions in rats. In addition they use electrophysiological recordings in combination with novel experimental systems and behavioral paradigms developed in the lab to show the role played by oxytocin in enhancing long-term social recognition memory of rats. In collaboration with Dr. Joseph Buxbaum of the Mount Sinai Medical Institute, they conducted behavioral experiments showing impaired social memory in Shank3-deficient rats, a rat model of ASD. Currently they work with several animal models of ASD using a multimodal experimental system to characterize behavioral, physiological and neuronal deficits associated with ASD
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Sandra Israel Yaacov
Sandra is a clinical psychologist head of "Bait Echad" ASD clinic, The Association for Children at Risk. Sandra specializes in cognitive behavioral psychotherapy (CBT) and is an ADOS2 trainer. She supervises the clinical work of "Bait Echad" teams in psychotherapy and assessment evaluations of ASD. In the past, she supervised, for many years, intensive behavioral and inclusive programs for children and adolescents with ASD. Sandra is a Ph.D. student at the department of psychology at Bar Ilan University. Her research explores factors that facilitate or hinder the receipt of an ASD diagnosis in children, as well as validating screeners for ASD in Israel. With collaboration between the Autism lab at Bar Ilan University and Bait Echad clinical centers, Sandra is involved in the clinical work and research of the PEERS (Program for Education and Enrichment of Relational Skills) protocol and its adaptations in Israel.
Prof. Ditza A. Zachor
Prof. Ditza A. Zachor is certified in Pediatrics and in Child Neurology and Development and has an appointment as Associate Professor at the Sackler Faculty of Medicine in Tel Aviv University. Prof. Zachor has served as the director of the Autism Center of ALUT, the National Association for Children with Autism at Assaf Harofeh Medical Center. This tertiary center provides diagnosis and treatment services and has been involved in ASD research in-house and in collaboration with Israeli and international researchers. Among the leading research topics: outcome of early intervention: focused on short-term outcome in various developmental domains of toddlers diagnosed with ASD and received early intensive intervention in community-based programs and on identifying child and family predictors. Long-term follow-up study at adolescence of toddlers diagnosed with ASD focused on outcomes in cognitive and adaptive domains, autism severity, friendship, quality of life, co-morbidities, medical problems and family stressors and for predictors at toddlerhood for these outcomes. Biological markers: abnormal white matter integrity in ASD using advanced imaging techniques. Uncovering a novel mechanistic link between olfaction and ASD, associated with the level of social impairments. Endophenotypes in ASD: identifying subgroups with specific clinical features (i.e. special abilities, sex differences, hyper/hypo sensitivity, siblings). Epidemiology of autism: identifying preconception (ART) prenatal (prematurity) and family (advanced ages) risk factors for ASD.
Dr. Adam Zaidel
Dr. Adam Zaidel’s lab at the Gonda Brain Research Center studies how the brain integrates multiple sources of information for perception, decision-making and behavior. Importantly, heterogeneous sources of information, such as expectations, prior knowledge about the world, and personal goals are integrated together with multi-modal sensory information, for perceptual decision-making. The result – an idiosyncratic (subjective) percept. This is true for all individuals. However, individuals with autism have more accentuated differences in perception and behavior. Little is known about idiosyncratic perception in general, and in autism in particular. Yet, it represents our “real” experience, and thus poses a fundamental and open question in neuroscience – of particular importance to autism. We study this in the Zaidel lab using psychophysics in humans, and single-unit neuronal recordings from awake behaving rodents. Our goal is to reveal the neuronal substrates that underlie idiosyncratic perceptual decision-making, and thereby to better understand perception, decision-making and behavior in autism.
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Prof. Anat Zaidman Zait
Prof. Anat Zaidman Zait’s research emphasis is understanding the determinants of parenting, parenting stress and coping, family functioning and its associated outcomes for both parents' and children's adjustment and functioning among families of children with and without disabilities (e.g., autism spectrum disorders, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and hearing impairments). In addition, she studies children's sleep in the context of the family and the correlates of family stress, sleep, and children's adjustment.