Hodaya Baruchi-Farber

17 June 2021

What is your research about?

I study metabolic changes in cancer cells which stopped dividing due to anti-cancer therapy. Because those cells are immune to most types of chemotherapy, I’m trying to find their weaknesses and kill them selectively.

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

Cancer has always been of interest to me due to (tragic) family circumstances; quite early in my studies, as part of my undergraduate research project, I joined a lab that studied cancer cells’ drug resistance. It was a very interesting, fascinating experience, so for my graduate studies I looked for something in the same field. I also really like the systematic approach to biology, so a lab that studies metabolic networks was perfect for me!

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

I came to the Technion with my husband, and at first, I started at the Faculty of Mathematics. But things turned out differently, and so I found myself here. And I don’t regret it for a moment!

3 tips for balancing personal life and professional life as a Ph.D. student?

  • Proportions and prioritizing. Research is very important, but family comes first.
  • Efficient time management. Come to the lab full of energy and be as efficient as you can so you can go home on time.
  • Forgive yourself. I’m doing the best I can on every front, so even if sometimes things don’t work out perfectly in my research work or at home, I give myself the space to make corrections and improve.

Any funny stories from your current research?

I once got a phone call from an insurance agent who tried to sell me a very expensive and unnecessary insurance for cancer. I told him I wasn’t interested, but he insisted on telling me… After about 10 minutes of trying to scare me with horrible, but not very accurate statistics, he remembered to ask what I did for a living. I still laugh when I remember how he choked when I told him I was a cancer researcher.

Any tips for new students?

Remember research is full of trial and error, don’t freak out when you don’t succeed, and leave the academy walls every now and then to meet some ordinary people and remind yourself that things are OK in the world!

Can you tell us a little about the campus and life at the Technion?

The campus is beautiful! So green and nice… like a little village inside the city. There are great facilities – swimming pools, a gym, lots of different places to eat, parties and events, and a great student atmosphere. During exam sessions you can feel the studying in the air virtually everywhere, and it’s really helpful! And as a mother, I love the fact that I have daycares and preschools minutes from home.
As a Biology student, what can you tell us about future career options? Where do you see yourself headed?
I’m not going to lie, this is a concern for many people, because with Biology your professional future is not near as certain as with, for example, an Engineering degree. But biotech companies are hiring, and the nature of the work you can do varies based on your degree and background. As a Ph.D., you get a much more interesting choice of jobs, including independent research, lab management, a research fellowship in the academy or the industry, and much more. Personally, I am interested in academic teaching, and hope to find work as a college professor after I finish my Ph.D.


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