STEP Fellows

STEP is currently funding eight pairs of Fellows. They are studying at Hebrew University, Ben Gurion University and Tel Aviv University. They are researching malaria, retinal disease, diseases of aging, genetics, cancer, desert agriculture, desalination, and climate effects on herding practices in Israel and Palestine.

Amanda and Shirly

Hebrew University
Adviser: Anat Florentin

 Amanda and Shirly study how parasites function. Their particular focus is on the malaria parasite, seeking to find treatment to combat malaria, a disease that effects half the world’s population.

Arielle and Maya

Tel Aviv University
Advisor: Dan Rabinowitz

 Arielle and Maya are studying how climate change has affected grazing patterns in the West Bank and the Golan Heights. They use remote sensing data (such as satellite images) to study changes in vegetation, land use, and grazing areas from 1967 to 2024. They are also investigating the history of the local grazing animal breeds (ex. cows & sheep) to understand their role in communities.

Diaa and Ben

Ben Gurion University
Advisors:  Osnat Gillor and Moshe Herzberg

“Biofilms” and “biocrust” clog the membrane filters used in water purification systems that provide water to most of Israel and Gaza. Diaa is discovering ways to inhibit biofilm and biocrust  formation and growth, and, as such, to allow water purification systems to perform more effectively and for extended periods of time. Ben is researching the role  of bacterially produced volatile organic chemicals in arid soils. They work together on microbiological techniques.

Hosniyah and Noa

Hebrew University
Advisor: Yehuda Tzfati

Hosniyah and Noa are studying rare genetic disorders specifically those related to telomere dysfunction. Telomeres are the caps at the ends of genes.

Manar and Nina

Hebrew University
Advisor: Dror Sharon

Manar and Nina are searching for new treatments for disease causing blindness. Manar uses genetic analyses to genetically diagnose patients with retinal diseases by identifying mutations, often common to the Middle East. Using this information, she then designs animal models that harbor human mutations in order to understand the development of these diseases.  

 Nina is seeking new gene-therapies to treat such retinal diseases by both assembling and analyzing global retinal mutation/gene databases and using this information to design and apply novel genetic therapies.”

Ohad and Mohammad

Ben Gurion University
Advisors: Mahmoud Huleihel and Eitan Rubin

Ohad and Mohammad work on rare genetic diseases, especially male infertility.

Ohad uses bioinformatic tools and laboratory experiments to reveal causes of male infertility while Mohammad combines unique laboratory models of sperm activity and bioinformatics. They are elucidating biomolecular pathways/mechanisms and factors regulating the differentiation and maturation of sperm, after they undergo juvenile chemotherapy. This will increase the chances that patients treated for cancer during childhood will be able to have children when they reach adulthood.

Raghad and Tal

Hebrew University
Advisors: Sahar Melamed and Orna Amster-Choder

Raghad and Tal are exploring how specific RNAs (genetic material) affect how bacteria interact with each other. Raghad is studying RNA in a bacterium called Pseudomonas aeruginosa, which causes serious infections in people with weakened immune systems. Working with Tal, who adds experience in bioinformatics and RNA research methodology, they hope to find better treatments for these and other infections.

Sara and Diala

Hebrew University
Advisor: Rami Aqueilan

Sara studies BRCA1 and BRCA2, two genes that when mutated or broken, are associated with high risk for breast cancer. Diala is characterizing the types of DNA breaks in several models of cancer, with the objective of devising ways of repairing such breaks and avoiding cancer.  Using DNA sequencing tools, Sara is working on methods to predict mutations that will predispose for cancer.