Two scientists from the Weizmann Institute of Science are among a list of 40 world-leading young scientists chosen by the journal Cell


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Two young scientists from the Weizmann Institute of Science, Drs. Maya Schuldiner and Jacob Hanna, are among 40 world-leading scientists in their field that have been selected by the prestigious journal Cell for their “40 under 40” list, in celebration of Cell’s 40th anniversary.
In an interview, the 40 young scientists spoke of their research, their personal philosophies, the joys and challenges of research, and their lives away from the bench.

Dr. Maya Schuldiner, born in 1975, joined the Weizmann Institute’s Molecular Genetics Department in 2008. She is married to Dr. Oren Schuldiner, also a scientist at the Weizmann Institute, and they have three children. Schuldiner’s laboratory uses advanced automation techniques in order to map the role of proteins and thoroughly understand the workings of cell organelles.

Schuldiner works eagerly in promoting both women in science as well as young scientists, and has established a course for students at the Institute, which provides training in both personal and managerial skills required to establish an independent laboratory.

Schuldiner states in her interview: “My personal philosophy is that my lab members are like my family. I spend as much time in the lab as I do at home, and I want to be happy when I am there. This philosophy guides many of the decisions that I make, for example, in choosing students to join my lab.”

Dr. Jacob Hanna was born and grew up in the Arab town Rameh to a family of doctors, and completed a joint physician/scientist program (MD/PhD). In 2011, Hanna joined the Weizmann Institute’s Molecular Genetics Department. His lab studies the changes that take place in the embryo at its earliest stage, which is responsible for turning the cluster of cells into all the different types of cells that make up the adult body. In addition, he explores in depth induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells – mature body cells that undergo “reprogramming,” which gives them stem cell-like properties.

In recent years, his laboratory has been making a number of breakthroughs in this field, which will advance the possibility of future medical use of these cells as “spare parts” for damaged cells and tissues.

When asked during the interview about which scientists he admires: “I greatly admire my uncle, Dr. Nabil Hanna, an immunologist by training and the former chief scientific officer of Idec Pharmaceuticals (now Biogen-Idec, Inc.). He was behind the invention and development of Rituxan, the first monoclonal antibody approved for therapy in humans. As an eager student and a loving nephew, I was fortunate to be exposed to his adventure.”
  (l-r) Drs. Maya Schuldiner and Jacob Hanna

Dr. Jacob Hanna's research is supported by Pascal and Ilana Mantoux, France/Israel; the Benoziyo Endowment Fund for the Advancement of Science; the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust; the Sir Charles Clore Research Prize; Erica A. Drake and Robert Drake; the European Research Council; and the Fritz Thyssen Stiftung.

Dr. Maya Schuldiner's research is supported by the Georges Lustgarten Cancer Research Fund; the Dora Yoachimowicz Endowed Fund for Research; the Berlin Family Foundation; Roberto and Renata Ruhman, Brazil; the European Research Council; and Karen Siem, UK.