Raz Palty 2005-2006

Institution of PhD:
Ben Gurion University of the Negev
Academic Discipline of PhD:
PhD Advisor/s:
Prof. Israel Sekler
Dissertation Topic:
Molecular Cloning and Characterization of NCLX, A Novel Mitochondrial Na+/Ca2+ and Li+/Ca2+ Exchanger
Year Awarded PhD:
Institution of Postdoc:
Present Institution:
Technion – Israel Institute of Technology
Present Academic Position:
Assistant Professor, Calcium Signaling Lab, Dept. of Biochemistry, Faculty of Medicine
Links to Recent Publications:
Publication 1

Raz Palty is a physiologist focusing on cell biology, in particular, on the signalling and cellular homeostasis of calcium. He is currently a postdoctoral scholar at the Isacoff Lab in the University of California, where he received the American Heart Association Post-Doctoral Fellowship. This is Raz’s second postdoctoral fellowship, as he previously spent two years as a Clore Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow at the Weizmann Institute of Science.

Raz’s work is focused on signaling and cellular homeostasis of calcium. Calcium ions are arguably the most important intracellular second messengers driving and controlling a vast array of physiological processes starting as early as fertilization, which marks the begging of life, and culminate with cellular death signals that ultimately mark their end.

Raz holds an ongoing interest in studying cellular calcium transport and signaling mechanisms that participate and determine such events. Currently his work is focused on understanding the molecular mechanisms of calcium signaling through store-operated calcium channels (SOCs). This type of ion channel is regulated in a unique way, by the depletion of calcium from the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) which normally occurs following stimulation of cell surface receptors that generate IP3. SOCs are formed by STIM and ORAI proteins and their activity is central to many physiological processes with special emphasis in the immune system where the role of SOCs in immune function is evident from immunodeficiency and autoimmunity in patients with mutations in STIM1 and Orai1 genes.

To study SOCs and their regulation, Raz relies on a variety of techniques ranging from fluorescent based high throughput screens aimed to identify new SOCs interacting molecules through combination of genetic and protein engineering with patch-clamp electrophysiology and live-cell imaging that reveal how SOCs are affected by regulatory molecules.

Raz’s PhD thesis, “Molecular Cloning and Characterization of NCLX, A Novel Mitochondrial Na+/Ca2+ and Li+/Ca2+ Exchanger”, was written under the supervision of Prof. Israel Sekler at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. His work included the identification of the mitochondrial NA / Ca exchanger, a major player in mitochondrial Ca homeostasis. This discovery enables a better understanding of diseases such as cardiac ischemia, Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease. His achievements in research were recognised by the university and he received his PhD in 2009 graduating summa cum laude.

Prior to his PhD, Raz received a MMedSc and a BSc from Ben-Gurion University. His achievements during his MMedSc were recognised by the university who awarded him the Rector’s Award for excellence in M.Sc. studies as well as by the Israeli Academic Association who presented him with the Award for Excellence in M.Sc. studies.

Raz is the recipient of the Kreitman Foundation Fellowship, as well as the Dean’s Award for Excellence in PhD Studies from Ben-Gurion University’s Faculty of Health Sciences. He has been published in prestigious journals such as the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and CELL.