Shira Weingarten-Gabbay is a postdoctoral fellow in the Sabeti lab and is co-mentored by Charles Rice at the Rockefeller University. In her research, Shira aspires to increase our understanding of the interaction between viruses and the immune system. She is specifically fascinated with non-canonical Open Reading Frames (ORFs) as a hidden source for antigen presentation and their potential role in viral immune evasion. With the goal of identifying novel phenomenon affecting hundreds of viruses pathogenic to humans, she develops innovative methods to systematically study virology by employing interdisciplinary approaches from computational biology, viral genomics, synthetic biology, and molecular genetics.
Shira completed her BSc in Medical Sciences at the Hebrew University, her MSc in the department of Molecular Genetics at the Weizmann Institute, and her PhD in the Department of Computer Science & Applied Mathematics at the Weizmann Institute as a Clore scholar. During her graduate work, Shira developed high-throughput methods to study gene expression regulation in the human genome and viruses. She exposed thousands of ribosomes recruiting elements (Weingarten-Gabbay et al., Science 2016; Weingarten-Gabbay and Segal, RNA Biol 2016; Gritsenko* and Weingarten-Gabbay* et al., PLoS Comp Biol 2017) and dissected the architecture of core promoters (Weingarten-Gabbay et al., Genome Res 2019; Weingarten-Gabbay and Segal, Human Genetics 2014). As a postdoctoral fellow, Shira exposed potent T cell epitopes from non-canonical ORFs in the SARS-CoV-2 genome not captured by current COVID-19 vaccines (Weingarten-Gabbay et al., Cell 2021). In addition to her research, Shira co-founded an international Systems Virology Journal Club and has taken an active role in science communication during the COVID-19 pandemic including the UN initiative Team Halo.
Shira is the recipient of the Human Frontier Science Program (HFSP) fellowship, EMBO non-stipendiary Long-Term Fellowship, the Gruss-Lipper Postdoctoral Fellowship, the Zuckerman STEM Leadership Program Fellowship and the Rothschild Postdoctoral Fellowship. In addition, she received the Israel National Postdoctoral Award for Advancing Women in Science, the Lady Anne Chain memorial prize for academic excellence and the BroadIgnite award. Shira was named one of Globes Magazine’s 40-under-40 Israel’s most promising young people for 2020.