Prof. Irit Sagi

Dean, Feinberg Graduate School | Weizmann Institute of Science

Prof. Irit Sagi received a BSc degree from American University in Washington DC (1988), and MSc and PhD degrees in biophysics/bioinorganics from Georgetown University (1993). After her studies, she returned to Israel, where she did postdoctoral research at the Weizmann Institute of Science in the group of Prof. Ada Yonath, laureate of the 2009 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. She continued her postdoctoral studies at the Max-Planck Institute in Hamburg, Germany, and joined the faculty of the Weizmann Institute in 1998.   Between 2005-2006 she spent a sabbatical as a visiting professor at Harvard University and at the Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research. In 2011, she moved her group to the Department of Biological Regulation. She became the dean of the Feinberg Graduate School in 2014 and is the incumbent of the Maurizio Pontecorvo Professorial Chair.

Prof. Sagi is developing and applying a unique, multidisciplinary and biophysical approach to investigate tissue and extracellular remodeling molecular processes.  Merging real-time spectroscopic and molecular imaging approaches, she was the first to reveal the complex molecular nature of matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs), a group of human enzymes linked to cancer and autoimmune diseases. Insights derived from these studies led her to design a new class of inhibitory antibodies that thwart the negative action of these enzymes.  These prototype antibodies are currently being developed for clinical use in inflammatory and cancer disaeses. Prof. Sagi continues to develop novel integrated experimental tools tailored to decipher the extracellular matrix mocelular remodeling code at near-atomic resolution in healthy and diseased tissues. Her unique biophysical approach is used to decipher molecular mecahnsims of dysregulated tissue proteolysis/remodeling and to develop a new generation of safe and effective drugs.

In 2013 Prof. Sagi received the Juludan Prize award for outstanding research projects in the exact sciences and advanced medicinal technologies. In 2006, she was awarded the Inventor of the Year by YEDA, LTD.; in 2003, she was awarded the Weizmann Institute Scientific Council Prize for Chemistry; and in 2000, the Jakubskind-Cymerman Research Prize. Since 2009, she has been the president of the Israel Biophysical Society. She is the scientific coordinator of the Institute Pasteur-Weizmann Council. She has more than 75 publications in peer reviewed scientific journals and books.

She is married and has three children.