Daphna Nachmani 2011-2012

Institution of PhD:
Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Academic Discipline of PhD:
PhD Advisor/s:
Prof. Ofer Mandelboim
Dissertation Topic:
Viral Manipulation and Cellular Control of Natural Killer Cells' Activity
Year Awarded PhD:
Institution of Postdoc:
Harvard Medical School
Present Institution:
Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Present Academic Position:
Principle Investigator

Daphna Nachmani is a microbiologist and Principle Investigator at the Hebrew University’s Institute of Life Sciences.  She opened her lab upon return from her postdoctoral training with Prof. Pier Paolo Pandolfi at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, an affiliate of Harvard Medical School.

Daphna received her PhD from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem under the supervision of Prof. Ofer Mandelboim. Her dissertation, “Viral Manipulation and Cellular Control of Natural Killer Cells’ Activity,” investigated the interplay of human herpes viruses and the immune system, focusing on the viruses’ strategies for evading detection and elimination by Natural Killer (NK) cells. Since NK cells, which recognize and kill hazardous cells without prior stimulation, are the body’s first line of defence against virally infected cells,  it is extremely interesting to explore what tactics herpes viruses have developed to evade their recognition.

Daphna was part of a team researching microRNA-mediated immune evasion of tumorigenic herpes viruses. Her lab demonstrated that it is a common herpes viral strategy to target immune genes with virally encoded microRNA to facilitate evasion from NK cells, and that herpes viruses, for this purpose, manipulate an existing mechanism of the host. Daphna discovered that microRNAs derived from two different herpes viruses, Epstein Barr Virus (EBV) and Kaposi’s sarcoma-associated herpes virus (KSHV), down-regulate an immune gene to avoid the immune system’s attack and subsequent elimination of the infected cell – the first proof that this important immune-evasion strategy is shared by several viruses.

Daphna received her BSc in Biology, summa cum laude, from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Her outstanding academic achievements have earned her several awards and prizes. In addition to the Adams Fellowship, she has received the Ariane de Rothschild Fellowship as well as a European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO) Short-Term Fellowship. Her work has been published in several journals, including Cell Host & Microbe and Nature Immunology.

Daphna is married to Yoav Livneh, another Adams Fellow alumnus.