Shimon Efrat is Professor of Human Molecular Genetics and Biochemistry at the Sackler School of Medicine at Tel Aviv University and incumbent of The Nancy Gluck Regan Chair in Juvenile Diabetes. Prof. Efrat received his Ph.D. in molecular biology in 1984 from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. In 1985-1988 he conducted postdoctoral research on cancer in pancreatic islet cells at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, New York. In 1989 he joined the Department of Molecular Pharmacology and the Diabetes Research Center at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, where he raised to full professorship and worked until 1999. Prof. Efrat joined the staff of Tel Aviv University in 1995, and since 1999 also holds a Visiting Professor appointment at Albert Einstein.
Prof. Efrat’s work has focused on approaches for cell replacement therapy for diabetes. He developed ways for differentiating human cells from different tissues into insulin-producing cells. In addition, his group demonstrated that adult human beta cells can be considerably expanded in tissue culture. This process involves loss of insulin production. Prof. Efrat’s group developed novel approaches for restoring proper function to the expanded cells. He has also shown that pluripotent stem cells reprogrammed from human beta cells can be differentiated into beta cells more efficiently, compared with pluripotent stem cells from other sources, thus providing clues for optimizing generation of functional insulin-producing cells from pluripotent stem cells.