2019 Kadar Family Award – Prof. Oded Rechavi

or close to 200 years people were trying to find evidence that acquired traits can be inherited it's not simple because you have to distinguish between inheritance for the biological material from the influences of the environment I understood that we can do this using simple forms because we can so easily distinguish between nature and nurture in this works these forms are genetically identical so if they inherit some response to the environment you know that it doesn't happen through changes to the DNA and the idea that we had was to expose the worms to different types of stresses to infect them with viruses to starve them to do all kinds of things with them and then to see whether the response transmits all so that the next generation whether the next generation would be different and once we've showed this we studied the mechanism how does it happen and we showed that the substance that moves between generation that allows these traits to be inherited is RNA molecules and not DNA model RNA molecules are close relatives of DNA molecules but even more ancient so the world used to be a world of RNA and then DNA was invented irony does all kinds of important things in the cell there's no life without RNA I wasn't clear RNA is the heritable molecule now how to explain the difference between RNA and DNA you can think of DNA as the hardware and RNA is a software so what the RNA does is to control the DNA to execute the instructions that exist in the DNA in a dynamic manner it doesn't change the DNA but it changes the way that the DNA acts we found that RNA molecules a specific type of RNA molecules are inherited between generations for example and we found that when you starve warms progeny the next generations are more resistant to additional rounds of starvation and they live longer as a result and when you infect them with a virus they inherit resistance to the virus there's still a lot to find about the mechanism exactly how it works the next stage would be to see whether this is also conserved in higher organism if also the same mechanisms that we find in warmth apply to humans then it would have far-reaching consequences because it would change the way that we think about heredity inheritance and also about evolution this is the best feeling of the world when you discover something new that no one else saw before you it's extremely satisfying you

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