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Dr. Eitan Erez Zahavi

Eitan received his BSc in Biology and Psychology at Tel Aviv University, where he became intrigued by the complexity and elegance of the cell as the core unit of life. Continuing for his MSc at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, he studied interactions between pathogenic E. coli bacteria and host epithelial cells in the lab of Prof. Benjamin Aroeti. In his Phd studies, Eitan pursued his interest in the unique cellular mechanisms of neurons in the lab of Prof. Eran Perlson in Tel Aviv University. He developed a neuromuscular co-culture model to study and demonstrate the role of GDNF, an extrinsic neurotrophic factor, in directing motoneuron axon growth and neuromuscular junction formation. To gain an understanding of how the receptor proteins that relay neurotrophic signals organize dynamically in response to stimulus, he used single-molecule microscopy to localize individual BDNF-receptors and identified an unexpected mechanism that excludes receptor clustering in endosomal compartments and controls specific downstream signaling. Eitan continued for postdoctoral study as an EMBO fellow in the lab of Prof. Casper Hoogenraad at Utrecht University, where he elucidated an anterograde trafficking and transport pathway that delivers TrkB from its site of biosynthesis in the cell body to the axon of the neuron.
As a senior postdoctoral fellow in the lab of Prof. Mike Fainzilber, Eitan will investigate the molecular and cellular communication mechanisms between neurons and the microbial environment in the gut. He will seek to identify neuromodulatory compounds that affect growth, survival and activity of neurons from the central and peripheral nervous systems, which may hold therapeutic potential for neurological disorders.