Hermona Soreq (H-factor: 84) was trained at The Hebrew University, Tel Aviv University, Weizmann Institute and the Rockefeller University. Soreq joined The Hebrew University in 1986, where she holds a University Slesinger Chair in Molecular Neuroscience and is also a founding member of the Edmond and Lily Safra Center for Brain Science. Her research pioneered the application of molecular biology and genomics to the study of cholinergic signaling, with a recent focus on its microRNA regulation and on signaling changes in health and disease. Soreq is the elected head of the International Organization of Cholinergic Mechanisms, was the elected Dean of the Faculty of Science from 2005-2008 and authored hundreds of publications, including 57 published in Science, Nature, PNAS, Neuron and other high-impact journals. Notably, 25 of Soreq’s trainees are faculty members in Israel (In Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa, the Galilee and Beer Sheva) and overseas (UC Berkeley, Maryland, Ann Arbor, Paris, Tours, Gottingen, London). Others are post-doctoral fellows or PhD students in her lab or contribute to government and private biotechnology organizations and Life Sciences companies.
Soreq studies the genomic regulators of acetylcholine (ACh) functioning with a recent focus on microRNAs (miRs), which rapidly emerge as global controllers of gene expression, yet the full scope of their roles in brain and body functioning is largely unknown. She combines advanced RNA-sequencing technologies with computational neuroscience and transgenic engineering tools to investigate miR functions in the healthy and diseased brain, with a focus on acetylcholine-related processes. Her studies discovered cholinergic brain-to-body regulation of anxiety and inflammation (Soreq, Trends Neurosci., 2015) and found "CholinomiR" silencers of multiple genes that compete with each other on suppressing anxiety and metabolic targets (Meydan et al., Trends Mol Med, 2016). Studying CholinomiR interactions with a focus on anxiety and inflammation, Soreq tests CholinomiR-based intervention with diseases involving impaired ACh signaling. In Israeli volunteers, she finds cholinergic-associated cardiac malfunctioning under fear of terror (Shenhar-Tsarfaty et al., PNAS 2015); and elevated trait anxiety, blood pressure, liver fattening and inflammation under inherited interference with acetylcholinesterase (AChE)-targeting CholinomiRs (Hanin et al., Gut 2018, Lin et al., TP 2016). In engineered mice, she studies CholinomiR increases under stress, inflammation and hyper-lipidemia, whereas in Alzheimer’s brains she sees massive CholinomiRs decline (Hanin et al., HMG 2014, Barbash et al., Neurobiology of Disease 2017), accompanying modifications in alternative splicing (Berson et al., EMBO Mol Med 2012) and transcript processing that is modified in epilepsy and neurodegenerative disease depending on one’s genome (Bekenstein et al., PNAS 2017; Simchovitz et al., J Neurochem 2017).
The major recent landmarks of the Soreq group in the cholinergic field involve:
- Discovery of miR regulators of cholinergic signaling.
- Demonstrating CholinomiRs-mediated AChE suppression of stress-inducible cognitive decline.
- Identifying CholinomiRs-associated changes in cardiac, epilepsy and inflammatory diseases.
- Finding cholinergic-mediated RNA metabolism errors in Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s brains.
- Implicating cholinergic mechanisms to our stress-related daily life.
Soreq renewed the scientific discussion of both basic and translational neurogenetics aspects of the cholinergic system, with the miR focus to new exciting levels with an Israeli focus.