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25.10.2020 | ז חשון התשפא

Meet Prof. Haim Cohen

Prof. Cohen’s research focuses on extending longevity, and its health and medical implications.

חיים כהן

Since the onset of the 20th century, human life expectancy has surged by 70%, thanks, in large part, to the discovery of antibiotics, which has led to a significant reduction in infectious complications. With the continuous rise in life expectancy, it is predicted that in just a few decades, between a quarter and a third of the world's population will be over the age of 65. This major demographic shift presents challenges in a host of realms – social, familial (transition from a two-generation family to five generations), moral, economic and most importantly, medical. Meet Prof. Haim Cohen, head of the Molecular Mechanism of Aging Laboratory at Bar-Ilan University’s Mina and Everard Goodman Faculty of Life Sciences. Prof. Cohen’s research focuses on extending longevity, and its health and medical implications.

Old age is a risk factor for a wide variety of illnesses, including cancer, diabetes, fatty liver, bone disease, and neurodegenerative disorders, such as Alzheimer's. However, the increase in life expectancy also provides an unprecedented opportunity in human history for significantly broadening the ranks of experienced individuals who have the desire and knowledge to positively impact society and the future. Realizing the potential of the adult sector of society (estimated to be about one-third) is, in the eyes of Prof. Cohen, one of the fastest growing revolutions in human history. Accordingly, his research is about understanding the molecular mechanisms underlying the aging process and developing therapeutic approaches that will inhibit these mechanisms.

Prof. Cohen's lab investigates the key enzyme SIRT6, which mediates the positive effect of calorie restriction on healthy life expectancy. Prof. Cohen and his team have shown that increasing SIRT6 activity can extend life by 30-40% and prevent the harmful effects of obesity and old age. Today, the lab is developing new ways to extend a person's healthy life expectancy based on these findings. The research on the enzyme SIRT6 has been published in the prestigious scientific journal “Nature” and has received a great deal of attention in the scientific community and among the general public for the promise that it offers.

Prof. Cohen, who returned to Bar-Ilan University after a postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard University, has been awarded prestigious awards and grants for his research. He directs the National Metabolic Center for Excellence in Scientific Research in Human Diseases – part of Israel’s National I-Core Initiative, which partners Bar-Ilan University, the Hebrew University and Tel Aviv University, with Sheba (Tel Hashomer) and Hadassah medical centers. The metabolic center, established at Bar-Ilan University, is unique in Israel and has state-of-the-art scientific equipment. Prof. Cohen also heads the Israeli-German Minerva Center for study of the biological mechanisms of aging and the Sagol Healthy Longevity Center (part of the Sagol Network).

For more on the Mina and Everard Goodman Faculty of Life Sciences:

For more on Prof. Haim Cohen’s research: