Science

Professor Michal Schwartz, Weizmann Institute of Science Seminar

Talk title: Immunotherapy to defeat Alzheimer’s disease: A transformative understanding of brain immunity


Professor Michal Schwartz

Professor Schwartz is Professor of Neuroimmunology at the Weizmann Institute of Science. She served as the president of the International Society of Neuroimmunology (2016-2018). Schwartz received her BSc, cum laude, from the Hebrew University, Jerusalem, and her PhD in Immunology from the Weizmann Institute.

She is the world pioneer in breaking the long-held dogma regarding the relationships between the central nervous system and the immune system.

She was the first to discover that blood-borne macrophages (Nature Medicine, 1998) and T cells (Nature Medicine, 1999) are needed for central nervous system repair, and the unexpected fundamental role of the immune system in supporting life-long brain functional plasticity and neurogenesis (Nature Neuroscience, 2006), and subsequently suggested that aging of the brain reflects dysfunction of the brain-immune communication (Science , 2014). Overall, the current understanding that immune cells are guardians of the brain, needed for life-long brain maintenance and repair, was initiated by her.

Lately she defined the brain together with the immune cells that were discovered at its borders creating an ‘‘ecosystem’’ that supports the brain’s robustness and resilience. Based on the understanding of the brain-immune relationships, she proposed that aging or exhaustion of the immune system plays a key role in perpetuating Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and dementia, and sugggested a novel treatment for AD, which harnesses the immune system to help the brain. This therapy is in advanced stage of development.

Her scientific insights had significant impact, reflected in her publications in leading journals and high citation number (H factor 115, Google Scholar), and the number of keynote and named lectures that she was invited to deliver. Schwartz was twice granted an advanced ERC award, as well as receiving numerous prestigious national and international awards for her outstanding achievements, including the 2002 Friedenwald Award from ARVO, for outstanding contribution to vision research and the Distinguished G. Heiner Sell Memorial Lectureship in 2002 for outstanding achievement in the field of spinal cord injury. More recently Schwartz received the Blumberg Prize for Excellence in Medical Science (2015), and the 2017 Rappaport Prize for Excellence in the Field of Biomedical Research. She was chosen in 2019 as Outstanding Mentor of the Year by the Israeli Neuroscience Society; 15 of her former graduate students currently hold academic faculty positions in Israel, USA, Europe and Australia. In 2019 Schwartz received the EMET prize, one of the most prestigious Israeli awards for academic and professional achievement, and lately she received the FENS EJN Award, 2022 for her outstanding contribution to the field of Neuroimmunology.

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