Born in Jerusalem, Dr. Roi Avraham served in an intelligence unit of the Israel Defense Forces. He completed a BSc in computer science at Tel Aviv University in 2001and earned his MSc magna cum laude in neuro-immunology there in 2006. He completed a PhD in biological regulation with Prof. Yosef Yarden at the Weizmann Institute of Science in 2011, followed by a postdoctoral fellowship at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. He joined the Weizmann Institute’s Department of Biological Regulation in May 2016 and is the incumbent of the Philip Harris and Gerald Ronson Career Development Chair.
Dr. Avraham’s lab studies what happens in the body when invading pathogens, like the bacteria Salmonella or Mycobacterium tuberculosis, meet the body's immune cells. The lab uses cross-disciplinary, single-cell analysis platforms that enable them to extensively profile and precisely monitor host-pathogen interactions during infections in living tissues and look closely at the cellular interactions between cells of the immune system and the invading pathogens. Looking at this battleground allows the Avraham lab to analyze the very early events of infection. This unique opportunity allows him to develop new strategies predicting the outcome of infection and to suggest novel treatments addressing such attacks, especially in the face of widespread antibiotic resistance. For example, tagging bacterial cells with fluorescent dyes allows Dr. Avraham to see in vivo where the bacteria cell are and how they survive. Using advanced cell sorting technology enables him to separate the different cellular outcomes of the host-pathogen encounters. His gene expression analysis of the attacked cells showed that the bacteria that reside within specialized immune cells gives the cell protection from host immunity, and provide a niche from where the bacteria can then disseminate to cause systemic infection. Better understanding the complex dynamics of infection may help Dr. Avraham design new interventions which would center not on novel antibiotics, but on correcting the dysfunctional host-pathogen interaction as new strategies for fighting infection.
His academic and professional honors include an Israel Ministry of Science – Eshkol Fellowship from 2007 to 2010, and a Broad-Israel Science Foundation grant for cell circuit research, an ERC starting grant (2017-2022), an ISF personal grant (2017-2022) and an NIH grant (2020-2022).
Roi is married, with 3 children and lives in Tel Aviv. His spouse, Shir, is a scientist at the Hebrew university.