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BCRF Grantee Since


Area(s) of Focus

Ilan Tsarfaty, PhD

Associate Professor, Department of Human Microbiology
Sackler School of Medicine
Tel Aviv University
Tel Aviv, Israel

Current Research

In order for a tumor to spread (a process called metastasis), tumor cells must be able to break through tissue barriers, enter the circulation and become established in a new site. To achieve these steps, a tumor cell must acquire unique physical and molecular properties. Drs. Tsarfaty, Graveel and Vande Woude are conducting laboratory studies in tumor cell invasion, metabolism, and drug resistance, important drivers in breast cancer metastasis. They have identified a key signaling protein called Met that is important in tumor cell metabolism and have linked this protein and its signaling activity to the promotion of tumor cell motility. They are using a combination of novel imaging techniques and mathematical models to study how Met is working in experimental models of triple negative breast cancer. Information derived from these studies will help to inform possible new targeted approaches to decrease drug resistance.


Dr. Ilan Tsarfaty received his BSc. (1983), MSc. (1986) and PhD (1990) from Tel Aviv University. From 1991-1994, he served as a postdoctoral research associate at the National Cancer Institute's Frederick Cancer Research and Development Center. He was a visiting scientist at the Van Andel Research Institute Grand Rapids MI as a part of the Molecular Imaging Center University of Michigan (2001 - 2003). Dr. Tsarfaty has been a member of the Department of Clinical Microbiology and Immunology, Sackler School of Medicine, Tel Aviv University since 1994. He is the author of over 50 scientific research articles and over 10 books chapters. Dr. Tsarfaty cloned the gene of the breast cancer antigen Muc1 and showed its potential use as a marker for breast cancer. He was the first to show that the Met tyrosine kinase growth factor receptor is involved in tubule formation in mammary tubule and in mesenchymal epithelial cell conversion.

Dr. Tsarfaty was the first to show that Met is a prognostic factor for breast cancer patients. He also showed that HGF/SF alters metabolic activity by induction of Mimp a novel gene that is involved in metastasis that was cloned and characterize in Dr. Tsarfaty's lab. Dr. Tsarfaty has been leading an effort to develop noninvasive breast tumor molecular imaging modalities as a powerful tool in understanding the metabolic activity induced by Met signal transduction. This technology enhances definition of tumor margins and may allow earlier detection of smaller tumor and small metastatic lesions. Currently, Dr. Tsarfaty's lab is in the process of understanding the physical, cellular and molecular mechanism of Met induced motility leading to embryo development and metastasis.