Prof. Yardena Samuels received her BSc from Cambridge University, UK in 1993, and earned an MSc in immunology and cancer research at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Hadassah Medical School in 1997. She completed a PhD in molecular cancer biology at Imperial College, London in 2002. Prof. Samuels worked as a postdoctoral fellow at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine from 2003 to 2006. She served as an Assistant Professor with the Cancer Genetics Branch of the (U.S.) National Human Genome Research Institute and Head of their Molecular Cancer Genetics Section before joining the Department of Molecular Cell Biology at the Weizmann Institute in December, 2012. Today she is the director of both the EKARD Institute for Cancer Diagnosis Research and the Weizmann Brazil Tumor Bank of the Moross Integrated Cancer Center, and is the incumbent of the Knell Family Professorial Chair.
In her postdoctoral work, Prof. Samuels discovered a gene that mutated in 32% of colorectal cancer patients as well as many other human cancers. In her current research, Prof. Samuels uses the power of DNA sequencing to identify new groups of genetic mutations involved in melanoma, and to differentiate these from “passengers”—genetic abnormalities that play no role in tumorigenesis. In another aspect of her work, Prof. Samuels is examining interactions between melanoma and immune T-cells, and has developed tools to identify and characterize melanoma neo-antigens—an approach that may eventually contribute to the development of anti-cancer vaccines and personalized treatment.
Prof. Samuels is the recipient of the Pezoller Foundation - EACR Cancer Researcher Award and the Youdim Family Prize for Excellence in Cancer Research, both in 2016. She won the TEVA-Israel Science Foundation Founders Prize (2014), the Peter and Patricia Gruber Prize for Scientific Excellence (2013), and the Pigment Cell and Melanoma Research prize (2011). While at the NIH, she received the NIH Directors Challenge Innovation Award and the NIH Bench-to-Bedside Award, both in 2008. In 2009, she was named one of Genome Technology’s top 25 Young Investigators. She was awarded a European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO) postdoctoral fellowship as well as the European Research Council (ERC) award in addition to awards during her postdoctoral research. Prof. Samuels is a member on several editorial boards including the Journal of Investigative Dermatology.