17 June 2021

Completed his B.Sc. in Molecular Biochemistry at the Faculty
Currently a direct Ph.D. student at the Fuchs lab, Faculty of Biology

What is your research about?

In Prof. Yaron Fuchs’s lab, where I work, we study the function of mature stem cells in the bodies of mammals, and the molecular mechanisms that dictate their survivability. Most cells in our body have a specific function: intestinal epithelial cells absorb nutritional substances, optic nerve cells transform light into electrical impulses, etc. Mature stem cells are different in this aspect: most of the time they are dormant, do not divide, and do not serve any function. But whenever the right signal is given – whenever the need for creation of new cells arises – the stem cells start dividing and differentiating into functional mature forms, allowing the tissue they “live” in to continue functioning properly. My research focuses on the ways melanocyte (melanin-producing cell) stem cells use unique control mechanisms to ensure their survival in hair follicles. The loss of those cells reduces the hair follicle’s ability to produce melanin, resulting in the growth of a grey hair.

What is your history with the lab, and how did you end up where you are today?

I got my B.Sc. in the Molecular Biochemistry program at the Technion. I was fascinated with the life sciences from an early age, so I always knew I was going to go in that direction. During my undergraduate studies, I took part in research projects offered by the Faculty of Biology, and that’s how I discovered the lab where I work today. After I graduated, I joined it as an M.Sc. student. The interesting research and advanced tools we work with convinced me that it was the right place for me, and I remained there when I started my direct Ph.D. program.

Why did you choose the Faculty of Biology at the Technion?

Actually, I didn’t think I was going to study this. I was considering a degree in Biomedical Engineering. But luckily, I lived next door to a biochemist, a professor from the Faculty of Chemistry at the Technion, and we had a chat about a year before I started my studies. It made me realize that if I wanted to proceed to advanced degrees and pursue a research career in life sciences, I should choose a study program that would give me an easy entrance point into the world of research. He was the one who told me about Molecular Biochemistry – a joint program by the faculties of Chemistry and Biology, which integrates the most interesting parts of each of those disciplines. I completed that three-year program with a wide set of tools which I use every day in my Ph.D. studies.

3 tips for balancing personal life and professional life as a researcher?

The secret is to study and research something you love. If your heart is satisfied with what you’re doing and the road you’ve chosen, everything else will work out. Luck plays a part too, of course. I was lucky to find an amazing woman who supports what I do and believes in the importance of working hard in research. At the end of the day, there is no single answer to the question of balance. It’s different for each person. The research path is not for everyone. It’s very demanding, sometimes at the expense of your personal life.

Any funny stories from your current research?

Nothing that I can think of right now… I don’t think this question is relevant for prospective students.

Any tips for new students?

You can do anything. Every field is difficult, especially because it’s something new and unknown to you, but it’s not impossible. You have the power to make the right choices that will lead you to success! I truly believe that the most important thing is to do something that you’re passionate about. As long as you love what you’re studying, your soul will deal with the greatest challenges to succeed.

 

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