In Memoriam: Honoring the Legacy of Professor Ronnie Apte in Cancer Research


Ronnie Apte was born in Kfar Saba to Czech immigrants who were the sole survivors of their family after the Nazi occupation of the Czech Republic.

During  high school his passion for botany and biology blossomed, leading to an extensive knowledge of Israel's flora and fauna. Ronnie served in the Israel Defense Forces from 1967 to 1970 and went on to study at Bar Ilan University. After finishing his B.Sc and Ph.D studies in the Department of Life Sciences and Microbiology at Bar-Ilan University, Ronnie performed his Postdoctoral work at The Weizmann Institute of Science, in the Department of Chemical Immunology. Throughout his career, Apte played an instrumental role at Ben-Gurion University (BGU). Joining BGU in 1981, he not only conducted impactful research but also taught medical and graduate students and took on various administrative duties. Prof. Apte served as Chairman of the Shraga Segal Department of Microbiology and Immunology for two terms.  Apte also served as Vice Dean of the Basic Sciences Division in the BGU Faculty of Health Sciences, where he fostered collaboration across disciplines. Professor Apte dedicated his life to science. Ronnie had a remarkable career, dedicated to advancing the field of cancer research. 


Apte's contributions to cancer research were truly pioneering. An internationally known expert in tumor biology, he dedicated three decades to studying the intricate connection between cancer and inflammation. One of his groundbreaking discoveries was the role of the tumor microenvironment in tumor development, and his lab specifically investigated the involvement of Interleukin-1 (IL-1) molecules. Apte's lab was the first to suggest that IL-1 could promote tumor growth and metastasis by exacerbating pro-inflammatory tumor microenvironments and pro-angiogenic responses. These findings were further examined in clinical trials, offering new approaches to cancer therapy.Ronnie Apte collaborated with scientists from around the world, participating in various international projects designed to develop anti-inflammatory strategies and novel cancer treatments. Ronnie actively participated in the European Commission's CORDIS program, collaborating with 20 researchers, and coordinated by a scientist based in Crete. Their successful proposal for the INFLA-CARE program secured a grant of 12 million Euros, supporting a four-year initiative aimed at developing anti-inflammatory strategies and innovative cancer therapies. Additionally, Ronnie fostered productive collaborations with researchers from the United States and Germany, working closely with various institutions in the framework of BSF, DKFZ, DIP and GIF programs. Apte’s research, published in over 100 scientific papers, earned him the prestigious Samuel and Paula Elkeles Prize for the Outstanding Scientist in the Field of Medicine in 2010. This recognition highlighted his significant contributions to advancing medical research in Israel.

In memory of Ronnie Apte and his extraordinary contributions to science, we gather at this conference to honor his legacy and further advance the field of cancer research. Please join us as we celebrate his life and achievements while continuing to push the boundaries of knowledge in immuno-oncology.