Tissue processes involve communication between several cell types by means of diverse secreted factors and cell contact signals. In her doctoral studies in the Molecular Cell Biology Department at Weizmann, Dr. Adler studied mathematically how healthy tissues maintain a proper ratio between their constituent cell types, uncovering design principles that allow cell-cell communication circuits to achieve homeostasis. For her postdoc at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, she would like to extend this approach, combining it with in vitro co-culture experiments to tackle a more complex problem, this one with clinical importance: the question of how protective tissue repair can evolve into a disease state of excessive scarring, namely fibrosis, if an injury is severe or repetitive. Fibrosis appears in many tissues including the lung, liver, heart, and kidney, where it impairs tissue function and ultimately leads to organ failure and death. The mechanisms dictating whether proper repair or pathological fibrosis will occur remain unclear. Dr. Adler will try to ascertain which biological parameters (such as secretion rates of growth factors or cell division/death rates) can abrogate fibrosis, in order to identify potential therapeutic targets.
Dr. Adler is a scientific writer at the Davidson Institute of Science Education in Israel, where she writes about scientific discoveries in a way that is accessible to the public.