Chaya Kalcheim was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 1955. She performed her undergraduate studies in Biology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and then moved to the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot where she received her PhD in 1984 in Neurobiology. She then moved to Paris to the Institut d’Embryologie Cellulaire et Moleculaire, where she specialized with Prof. Nicole Le Douarin in Developmental Neurobiology. Back in Israel in 1987, she joined the Department of Anatomy and Embryology, now the Department of Medical Neurobiology of the Faculty of Medicine, where she is a full professor since 2001.
Chaya has been a true leader in the research of muscle and neural crest development, and their manipulation by a variety of approaches. Her detailed work combined careful microscopic observations with cell transplantation, as well as genetic and molecular approaches, which led to novel insights regarding the signaling pathways operating during neural and skeletal ontogeny.
Using Chick (Gallus gallus) and Quail (Coturnix coturnix japonica) embryos as the main model organisms, her group investigated the mechanisms underlying the onset and progression of neural crest migration, including the control of cell cycle and the specification and differentiation of neural crest and neural tube progenitors. In addition, her group investigated the molecular basis of intrasomitic diversification in relation to vertebral development, the molecular basis of the multiwave nature of myotome formation, and the mechanisms of lineage segregation of dermomyotome progenitors into skeletal versus smooth muscle, dermis and endothelium.
Chaya’s current research is devoted to two main topics: first, understanding the dynamic transitions that operate in the dorsal neural tube primordium and that lead to the end of the production of neural crest cells and the generation of the definitive roof plate of the spinal cord. Second, to the molecular cross-talk underlying neural-mesodermal interactions that affects both motoneuron as well as muscle development.
Prof. Kalcheim holds the Alice and Siegfried Menkes Chair in Cancer research and Experimental Medicine and received numerous awards, including the Bernard Katz Prize in Neurobiology from the University of Heidelberg, and earlier this year, the 2017 Prusiner-Abramsky Research Award. In 1999, Prof. Kalcheim published with Prof. Le Douarin the second Edition of the “Neural Crest” which became a classical source for students and researchers in developmental biology, cell biology, and neuroscience. She lives in Jerusalem, Israel, is married to Avi and has two children, Einat and Yoav.
Selected wording from members in the award advisory committee:
“Dr. Cedar’s work laid the foundation for an important new field of study, epigenetics… This work was a true breakthrough and it gave rise to the concept of epigenetic reprogramming, a key process in development that establishes the ability of cells to transform into different types.”
“Together with prof. Aharon Razin, they have advanced our understanding of how gene regulation works and what happens when the processes go wrong.”
“Clearly outstanding by his pioneering work on DNA methylation and the role of chromatin in gene regulation. Absolute groundbreaking work on the molecular biology of DNA and transcription regulation (during development)…”
“The work of Howard Cedar on developmental epigenetics has had the highest impact, globally.”
“Although not a developmental biologist per se, Cedar’s discoveries had profound implications in developmental biology. The process of DNA methylation and its implications to inheritance of epigenetic traits during early embryonic development is by now a textbook.”
“Prof. Cedar is a gifted speaker and a teacher…his outstanding mentoring abilities, through which he has inspired the career of many students and collaborators.”
“Not less important, several members of our Developmental Community were his former students, and this further attests for his leadership and vision”
Members of the IsSDB 2019 Career Award Advisory Committee:
Prof. Eli Arama (Weizmann Institute)
Prof. Daniel Chamovitz (Tel Aviv University)
Prof. Peleg Hasson (Technion)
Dr. Yael Heifetz (Hebrew University)
Prof. Sivan Henis-Korenblit (Bar-Ilan University)
Prof. Herbert Jäckle (Max-Planck, Göttingen, Germany)