Weizmann Institute of Science

This is me (April 2013)

Jean Hausser, PhD

I'm a computational biologist.

What do I do?

What do I do?

Cells are the basis of life as we know it: all living things are cells. It can be single cells (like the bacteria Escherichia coli which lives in our gut or the baker's yeast). Or it could be many cells living together, like in living organisms such as you and me.

In my research with Prof. Uri Alon at the Weizmann Institute of Science, I ask how cells make decisions, from bacteria to human cells. This is a fundamental question of biology which I find fascinating in its own sake because it can help us understand how cells "think". In addition, the question of how cells make decisions is relevant to practical problems that arise when cells make bad decisions such as in cancer.

In 10 years as a scientist, I have...

authored 27 articles, which have been cited 3800+ times (h-index: 19)

worked at research institutions around the world (Europe, USA, Middle East)

attracted 180'000 EUR in research funding (EMBOSNSF, ...)

I have a broad interest in life sciences

In the past three years, I have been studying the trade-offs between the different tasks that cells have to perform (growing, surviving, specializing, moving, ...). For example, me and my colleagues proposed competing tasks for breast cancer: dividing, growing, signaling, and being a healthy breast tissue.

This finding may find future application in choosing a therapy that attacks the tumor from its weak side. For example, tumors where cells divide a lot should be more sensitive to cancer drugs that target cell division (paclitaxel, topotecan, ...) whereas tumors that rely more on signaling could be best treated with drugs inhibiting growth pathways (e.g. lapatinib).

Our ParTI software package discovers biological tasks from large-scale data Our ParTI software package discovers biological tasks from large-scale data
Video by K. Petsche

Before working on the tasks and trade-offs of cells, I studied microRNAs with Prof. Mihaela Zavolan (Uni Basel), Prof. Markus Stoffel (ETH Zurich) and Prof. Tom Tuschl (Rockefeller). MicroRNAs are small molecules that cells use to make the important decision of turning off selected genes.

For example, my colleagues and I found microRNAs that turn off a gene which cells use to measure insulin. Cells cannot properly measure insulin when there are too many of these microRNAs, which leads to diabetes (Trajkovski et al., Nature 2011).

I have studied how microRNAs choose which genes to turn off (Hausser et al., Genome Research 2009; Khorshid et al. Nature Methods 2013), how exactly microRNAs turn genes off (Hausser et al., Genome Research 2013; Bruemmer and Hausser, BioEssays 2014), and how fast the whole process is (Hausser et al., Molecular Systems Biology 2013). Finally, I co-developed PAR-CLIP, a technique to capture all genes targeted by microRNAs in a single experiment (Hafner et al. Cell 2009, Kishore et al., Nature Methods 2011).

Time scales and bottlenecks in gene regulation by microRNA

I am an expert in analyzing large-scale biological data and in mathematical modeling

I have a two-year university degree in computer science from the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (2003), a Master's degree in bioinformatics and mathematical modeling from the National Institute of Applied Sciences Lyon (2006), and a PhD in bioinformatics from the University of Basel (2010).

Since completing my PhD, I have deepened my proficiency in big data and mathematical modeling in life science during a post-doctoral stay at the University of Basel and at the Novartis Institute for Biomedical Research, and subsequently at the Weizmann Institute of Science where I am currently a senior post-doctoral fellow .



statistics, machine learning

statistics and machine learning

mathematical modeling

mathematical modelling

I enjoy working with others


I have done all my research in collaboration with other scientists, theorists as well as experimentalists from different disciplines in life science. You can find all my colleagues on the list of my publications.

Working with fellow theorists at the Alon lab

Teaching and mentoring

I have mentored students from the Bachelor level up to the PhD level. I have teaching experience with university students from 1st year to master and PhD students.


I have shared the results of my research in 17 oral presentations at international conferences.
I enjoy learning languages; I am a native French speaker, and have learned English, German, Spanish from classes and by living abroad. I am currently learning Hebrew.

When I'm not doing research...

Green heart at the 2015 Global Climate March in Tel Aviv Green heart at the Global Climate March in Tel Aviv (Nov. 2015)

In my free time, I like to study topics outside my core area. In the past two years for example, I have studied university texts on economic theory and economic history, and completed Robert Shiller's MOOC on Financial Markets. I'm currently learning cryptography from RSA co-founder Adi Shamir at the Weizmann Institute.

I am also interested in world issues such as data privacy and climate change. For example, I wrote a guide for anyone to follow in order to recover privacy and control over one's emails, calendar, contacts and files by building one's own cloud server. I co-organized the Global Climate March in Tel Aviv last year, with 800 participants, including the Israeli Minister of Environment, the French ambassador, several Members of Knesset and TV personalities.