Prof. Eitan Okun

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Head of Research Lab






Eitan Okun



Senior Lecturer, The Mina and Everard Goodman Faculty of Life Sciences, Bar Ilan University, Ramat Gan, Israel







Bar Ilan University




Bar Ilan University




Bar Ilan University




National Institute on Aging, NIH










  1. Personal Statement

My research focuses on the innate-immune-related cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying neuronal plasticity and learning and memory processes during neurodegenerative conditions and in normal aging.  In addition to studying mechanisms of learning and memory in healthy animals, I have gained significant experience working with murine models for neurodegenerative disorders such as Huntington’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease.


B. Positions and Honors



August 2011-present  Senior Lecturer, The Mina and Everard Goodman Faculty of Life Sciences, Bar Ilan University, Ramat Gan, Israel.



2011      NIH Fellows Award for Research Excellence (FARE) Award

2011      Young Researchers Award ESN/ISN society




The Paul Feder Laboratory for Reaearch on Neurodegenerative diseases

Our research focuses on both basic and translational neuroscience. We study the roles of innate immune receptors of the Toll-like receptors  / Interleukin-1 pathways on spatial learning and memory in rodents, with emphasis on spatial pattern completion and pattern separation. In this respect, we also study spatial learning and memory in human subjects using virtual reality environments.

In addition, We study possible mechanisms by which adult neurogenesis, the process of formation of new neurons in the adult brain, can be further enhanced.

On the translation branch of the laboratory, we develop a DNA vaccination strategy to delay the progression of Alzheimer's disease using mouse models of Alzheimer's disease and Down syndrome. In addition, we also develop biomarkers for earlier diagnosis of neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson’s disease.

  1. A protocol for quantitative analysis of murine and human amyloid-β1-40 and 1-42. Illouz T, Madar R, Griffioen K, Okun E. J Neurosci Methods. 2017 Nov 1;291:28-35. doi: 10.1016/j.jneumeth.2017.07.022. Epub 2017 Jul 30.
  2. Lavian H, Almog M, Madar R, Loewenstern Y, Bar-Gad I, Okun E, Korngreen A. Dopaminergic modulation of synaptic integration and firing patterns in the rat entopenduncular nucleus. J Neurosci. 2017 Jun 26. pii: 0639-17.
  3. Okun E, Marton D, Cohen D, Griffioen K, Kanfi Y, Illouz T, Madar R, Cohen HY. Sirt6 alters adult hippocampal neurogenesis. PLoS One. 2017 Jun 23;12(6):e0179681
  4. Betzer O, Shilo M, Opochinsky R, Barnoy E, Motiei M, Okun E, Yadid G, Popovtzer R. The effect of nanoparticle size on the ability to cross the blood-brain barrier: an in vivo study. Nanomedicine (Lond). 2017 Jul;12(13):1533-1546
  5. Gross A, Benninger F ,Madar R, Illouz T, Griffioen K, Steiner I, Offen D and Okun E. Toll-like receptor 3 deficiency decreases epileptogenesis in pilocarpine model of SE-induced epilepsy in mice. Epilepsia. 2017 Feb 6.
  6. Illouz T, Madar R, Clague C, Griffioen K, Louzoun Y, Okun E. Unbiased classification of spatial strategies in the Barnes maze. Bioinformatics. 2016 Jul 4. [IF# 5.766, ranked 3 of 65 journals in Mathematical and computational Biology, A+].
  7. Illouz T, Madar R, Louzon Y, Griffioen KJ, Okun E. Unraveling cognitive traits using the Morris water maze unbiased strategy classification (MUST-C) algorithm. Brain, Behavior and Immunity. 2015 Oct 24. [IF# 5.874; ranked 24 of 151 journals in Immunology, A].
  8. Madar R, Rotter A, Ben-Asher HW, Mughal MR, Arumugam TV, Wood WH 3rd, Becker KG, Mattson MP and Okun E. Postnatal TLR2 activation impairs learning and memory in adulthood. Brain, Behavior and Immunity, 2015 Aug;48:301-12. [IF# 5.874; ranked 24 of 151 journals in Immunology, A].
  9. Feldman N, Rotter A, Okun E. DAMPs as mediators of sterile inflammation in aging-related pathologies. Ageing Res Rev. 2015 Jan 29. pii: S1568-1637(15)00005-7. [IF# 7.526; ranked 1 of 49 journals in Geriatrics and Gerontology, A+].
  10. Illouz T, Okun E. No ECSIT-stential evidence for a link with Alzheimer's disease yet (retrospective on DOI 10.1002/bies.201100193). Bioessays. 2014 Nov 4. [IF# 4.73; ranked 10 of 86 journals in Biology, A].

  11. Barak B, Feldman N, Okun E. Cardiovascular Fitness and Cognitive Spatial Learning in Rodents and in Humans. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2014 Sep 16. [IF# 5.416; ranked 3 of 50 journals in Geriatrics and Gerontology, A+].
  12. Barak B, Feldman N, Okun E. Toll-like receptors as developmental tools that regulate neurogenesis during development: an update. Front Neurosci. 2014 Aug 28;8:272. [IF# 3.656; ranked 82 of 252 journals in Neurosciences, C].
  13. Kim W, Fiori JL, Shin YK, Okun E, Kim JS, Rapp PR, Egan JM. Pancreatic polypeptide inhibits somatostatin secretion. FEBS Lett. 2014 Aug 25;588(17):3233-9. doi: 10.1016/j.febslet.2014.07.005. [IF# 3.17; ranked 20 of 72 journals in Biophysics, B].
  14. Okun E. A heavy toll on the outcome of ischemic brain stroke. Exp Neurol. 2014 Apr;254:166-7. doi: 
10.1016/j.expneurol.2014.02.002. Epub 2014 Feb 7. [IF# 4.67; ranked 47 of 252 journals in Neurosciences, A].
  15. Lee JH, Halperin-Sheinfeld M, Baatar D, Mughal MR, Tae HJ, Kim JW, Carter A, Lustig A, Snir O, 
Lavie G, Okun E, Mattson MP, Sredni B, Taub DD. Tellurium Compound AS101 Ameliorates Experimental Autoimmune Encephalomyelitis by VLA-4 Inhibition and Suppression of Monocyte and T Cell Infiltration into the CNS. Neuromolecular Med. 2013 Nov 23. [IF# 3.885; ranked 77 of 252 journals in Neurosciences, C].
  16.  Okun E, Griffioen KJ, Rothman S, Wan R, Cong W, De Cabo R, Montalvo AM, Levette A, Maudsley S, Martin B, Arumugam TV and Mattson MP. Toll-Like Receptors 2 and 4 Modulate Autonomic Control of Heart Rate and Energy Metabolism. Brain Behav Immun. 2013 Oct 18. pii: S0889-1591(13)00512-6. doi: 10.1016/j.bbi.2013.10.013. [IF# 6.128; ranked 19 of 144 journals in Immunology, A].
  17. Cheng Y, Park JS, Manzanero S, Choi Y, Baik S, Okun E, Gelderblom M, Fann DY, Magnus T, Launikonis B, Mattson MP, Sobey C, Jo DG and Arumugam TV. Evidence that Collaboration between HIF-1alpha and Notch-1 Promotes Neuronal Cell Death in Ischemic Stroke. Neurobiology of Disease. 2014 Feb;62:286-95. [IF# 5.078; ranked 39 of 252 journals in Neurosciences, A].
  18. Barak B, Shvarts-Serebro I, Modai S, Gilam A, Okun E, Michaelson DM, Mattson MP, Shomron N, Ashery U. Opposing actions of environmental enrichment and Alzheimer's disease on the expression of hippocampal microRNAs in mouse models. Transl Psychiatry. 2013 Sep 10;3:e304. [IF# 4.3; ranked 24 of 136 journals in Psychiatry, A].
  19. Barak B, Okun E, Ben-Simon Y, Lavi A, Shapira R, Madar R, Wang Y, Norman E, Sheinin A, Pita MA, Yizhar O, Mughal MR, Stuenkel E, van Praag H, Mattson MP, Ashery U Neuron-specific expression of tomosyn1 in the mouse hippocampal dentate gyrus impairs spatial learning and memory. Neuromolecular Med. 2013 Jun;15(2):351-63. [IF# 3.885; ranked 77 of 252 journals in Neurosciences, C].
  20. Cheng A, Wan R, Yang JL, Kamimura N, Son TG, Ouyang X, Luo Y, Okun E, Mattson MP. Involvement of PGC-1α in the formation and maintenance of neuronal dendritic spines. Nat Commun. 2012 Dec 4;3:1250. [IF# 10.015; ranked 3 of 56 journals in Multidisciplinary Sciences, A+].
  21. Kashiwaya Y, Bergman C, Lee JH, Wan R, Todd King M, Mughal MR, Okun E, Clarke K, Mattson MP, Veech RL. A ketone ester diet exhibits anxiolytic and cognition-sparing properties, and lessens amyloid and tau pathologies in a mouse model of Alzheimer's disease. Neurobiol Aging. 2012 Dec 29. [IF# 6.166; ranked 1 of 47 journals in Geriatrics and Gerontology, A+].
  22. Chigurupati S, Mughal MR, Okun E, Das S, Kumar A, McCaffery M, Seal S, Mattson MP. Effects of cerium oxide nanoparticles on the growth of keratinocytes, fibroblasts and vascular endothelial cells in cutaneous wound healing. Biomaterials. 2013 Mar;34(9):2194-201. [IF# 8.312; ranked 2 of 76 journals in Biomedical Engineering, A+].
  23. Okun E, Barak B, Saada-Madar R, Rothman SM, Griffioen KJ, Roberts N, Castro K, Mughal MR, Pita MA, Stranahan AM, Arumugam TV, Mattson MP. Evidence for a Developmental Role for TLR4 in Learning and Memory. PLoS One. 2012;7(10):e47522. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0047522. [IF# 3.73; ranked 7 of 56 journals in Multidisciplinary Sciences, A].