Raphael Kopan, PhD, will join Cincinnati Children’s as Director of the Division of Developmental Biology this fall.

Kopan’s primary research interest is the Notch1 protein, instrumental in guiding the development of embryonic cells into a variety of cell types, organs and tissues. Studying the effects of Notch1 disruption has proved challenging because of the protein’s essential role in embryonic development. Kopan’s team solved the problem by engineering a mouse in which the Notch1 gene remains present throughout embryogenesis but becomes conditionally knocked out in adults.

One of their recent findings, reported in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, suggests that inactivating Notch1 in mice may cause abnormal proliferation of endothelial tissue, leading to vascular tumors, particularly in the liver.

Kopan has been the Wolff Distinguished Professor of Molecular Biology and of Medicine at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, where he has worked since 1994. He earned a bachelor’s degree in biology in 1981 and a master’s degree in zoology in 1984, both from Tel Aviv University.

Following a stint in the Israeli Defense Force, Kopan received his doctorate in molecular genetics and cell biology at the University of Chicago and completed post-doctoral training at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle.