Dr. Sarel Fleishman
Department of Biomolecular Science
Dr. Sarel Fleishman studies proteins—the working molecules of living organisms—drawing on molecular biology, biophysics and biochemistry. He and his research team develop computer algorithms that encode the current understanding of how proteins fold, bind and interact, and then conduct experiments to verify the accuracy of their “designed protein.” In their research, they use computational design tools to study the key elements that govern protein stability in nature, and to redesign marginally stable proteins for higher stability in biomedical and industrial applications. They have created a computer algorithm for stabilizing proteins which employs a protein model as input. The algorithm offers amino acid mutations to increase the protein’s stability, while preserving its original structure and function.
The team has tested their method on several proteins with great success and have succeeded in stabilizing an important protein located in the nervous system that is also the target of nerve agents. While the original protein is notoriously unstable, the variant generated by Dr. Fleishman’s team might yet see further development as a drug against nerve agents. They have also designed a variant of a protein that is in clinical trials to serve as a vaccine against malaria, having generated a variant that is much more economical to produce and which will withstand the high temperatures of the tropical regions where this vaccine will ultimately be delivered.
Born in Israel, Dr. Fleishman completed the Adi Lautman Interdisciplinary Program for Outstanding Students and the Life Sciences Research Track Program at Tel Aviv University in 2000. He then completed an MSc summa cum laude in 2002 and a PhD with distinction in 2006, both at Tel Aviv University. He worked as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Washington, Seattle from 2007 until joining the faculty of the Weizmann Institute in September 2011. Dr. Fleishman is the incumbent of the Martha S. Sagon Career Development Chair.
Dr. Fleishman’s honors include: postdoctoral fellowships from the Human Frontier Science Program (HFSP) from 2006 through 2009 and a career development award from HFSP in 2012, one of the Gen9 company’s inaugural G-prizes in 2012, the GE Healthcare and Science Young Investigator Award in Molecular Biology in 2008, a Rothschild Postdoctoral Fellowship, an Alon Fellowship in 2012, the Henri Guttwirth Award in 2017, and a Sir Charles Clore Doctoral Fellowship from 2003 to 2006.