A winning pair
Two Weizmann scientists chosen by Cell magazine
Two Weizmann Institute researchers were profiled in June in Cell magazine’s “40 under 40” review on the occasion of the prestigious scientific journal’s 40th year, as leading scientists younger than 40 from a range of biological fields.
The editors chose Dr. Jacob Hanna, a leading stem cell researcher; and Dr. Maya Schuldiner, who maps the metabolic pathways that regulate cell function. Both scientists are members of the Department of Molecular Genetics. They were asked about their science, their personal philosophies, the joys and challenges of research, and their lives away from the bench.
Dr. Hanna, who joined the Institute in 2011 and has made major advances in the ability to “reprogram” cells to a stem-like state, describes himself as a “science geek”. He told the editors, “Science is my main hobby and thrill in life.” He said his lab team makes a conscious decision “not to fear taking up very competitive projects… competitiveness motivates us to work as a group on each project.” When asked to name the scientist he most admires, he named his uncle, Dr. Nabil Hanna, an immunologist and the former chief scientific officer of Idec Pharmaceuticals (now Biogen-Idec, Inc.) who was behind the invention and development of Rituxan®, the first monoclonal antibody approved for therapy in humans. Dr. Hanna advises his students to “enjoy the extended journey that is science and focus their energies on conducting more and more thoughtful experiments.”
Dr. Schuldiner, who joined the Institute in 2008, said her research passion is driven by the “mind-boggling fact” that scientists don’t know the function of nearly 60% of the proteins in the simplest yeast. She has developed innovative tools to map and fill in this “black hole” of missing information. She told Cell’s editors, “My true belief is that my job extends beyond simply giving students experimental and scientific guidance, and hence, I try to nurture them in all aspects of scientific thinking and presentation skills to endow them with a sense of their own capabilities and to empower them.” She is married to fellow Weizmann Institute scientist Dr. Oren Schuldiner of the Department of Molecular Cell Biology; they have three boys. She relayed her “Ten Commandments” of establishing a career in science, including #1: “Science is not a 100 meter race. It’s a marathon.” And #10: “Don’t forget to breathe deep and have fun! Remind myself every day what a privilege it is to be doing this.”
Dr. Hanna is supported by Pascal and Ilana Mantoux of 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. Schuldiner is supported by the Georges Lustgarten Cancer Research Fund, the Dora Yoachimowicz Endowed Fund for Research, the Berlin Family Foundation, Roberto and Renata Ruhman of Brazil, the European Research Council, and Karen Siem of the UK.