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The Gonen Lab

Mammalian Sex Determination

Sex Determination is the process by which an organism develops into either male or female.

The Gonen lab are interested at understanding the delicate regulation over the Sex Determination process mediated both by coding genes as well as the non-coding genome.

Our lab is located at Bar-Ilan University, Faculty of Life Sciences, Nanotechnology Institute, Ramat Gan, Israel

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Pipetting Samples

Mammalian Sex Determination

A main research interest of our lab is to understand, at the molecular level, how sex is determined during embryonic development, i.e., how does an embryo develop into either male or female.

In mammals, sex determination is genetically driven with XY individuals developing as males and XX individuals developing as females. However, if the process of sex determination is impaired, patients appear as XY females or XX males (sex reverse). These are all classified as patients with Disorders of Sex Development (DSD), with a prevalence of 1: 2500-4000 newborns.

Regulation of Gene Expression during Sex Determination

During embryonic development, the gonads initially develop as a bipotential organ and it is the activity of several key transcription factors that directs them to develop into either testes or ovaries.
In the lab, we use the mouse as a model system and are interested at understanding the regulation of these key transcription factors and how these interact with each other. We also study the role of the non-coding genome in mediating the process of sex determination and DSD pathologies.
We employ cutting-edge techniques to address these questions including CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing, transgenic mice production, advanced sequencing techniques as well as microscopy and molecular biology.


Developing an in vitro system to study the Gonads

In an attempt to develop an in vitro system that allows to model the mammalian gonads we use mouse Embryonic Stem Cells (ESC) and develop differentiation protocols towards gonadal cell type of the gonads. We 3D tissue engineering to culture these cells in vitro.

In addition, we use similar protocols with Human ESC and induced Pluripotent Stem Cells to model DSD patients in vitro.

This allows us to address many open questions in the field of sex determination and understand how this delicate process occurs.

Embryonic Stem Cells



Bar Ilan Uni







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Contact Us

We are always happy to discuss with enthusiastic, curious and motivated people, at all career stages, about the possibility to join our team!

The Mina and Everard Goodman Faculty of Life Sciences

Institute of Nanotechnology and Advanced Materials, Building 206

7th floor, Rooms B-737 (office), B-734 (lab)

Bar-Ilan University

Ramat Gan, Israel, 5290002


Tel: +972-3-5317246

Office: +972-3-5317246

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