Asya Rolls

Technion Associate Professor Asya Rolls studies the physiological mechanisms whereby emotions and thoughts affect physical health. By deciphering the neuronal pathways mediating brain-immune signals, her work aims to harness our innate therapeutic potential.

Prof. Rolls’ lab, based in the Rappaport Faculty of Medicine, uses state-of-the-art tools in neuroscience and immunology to understand how specific brain activity impacts the immune system, the body’s main protective mechanism against damage, pathogens, and cancer. In a series of studies published in Nature Medicine (2016), Nature Neuroscience (2017) and Nature Communications (2018), Prof. Rolls and her team discovered a new potential mechanism of the placebo response. More recently, in a study published in Cell (2021), they demonstrated that the brain stores immune memories and can initiate disease on its own. These findings provide a mechanistic explanation to the induction of psychosomatic disorders. Based on these pre-clinical studies in mice, the Rolls group has been working in collaboration with clinicians to translate these findings to humans.

Prof. Rolls joined the Technion after completing her postdoctoral fellowship as a Fulbright scholar in the Department of Psychiatry at Stanford University. She received her Ph.D. from the Weizmann Institute of Science, and received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in life sciences from the Technion Faculty of Biology.

Prof. Rolls is a member of the Young Academy of Sciences and Humanities in Israel. She is also one of 40 international researchers selected by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) and the Wellcome Trust. She has received several prestigious grants and awards including the ERC starting grant, the Krill Prize awarded by the Wolf Foundation, the Adelis Brain Research Award, and the Rappaport Bio-medical Award.