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3RD ANNUAL ZUCKERMAN US-ISRAEL SYMPOSIUM: SPEAKERS

Kelly Avidan
Director, Department of Resource Development, Weizmann Institute of Science

Kelly Avidan was born in Israel, earned a BA in Political Science at Tel Aviv University, and a post-BA certificate in Communications and Journalism at Bar Ilan University.

Ms. Avidan spent more than 10 years of her life abroad: from 1971 to 1977, as a child, in Istanbul, Turkey, where she was educated at the Robert College International School, and in 1995 to 1999, in Frankfurt, Germany. She speaks Hebrew, English, Spanish, French and some German.

In 2009 Ms. Avidan was appointed Director of the Department of Resource Development at the Institute. She works closely with the management of the Institute on setting fundraising priorities and strategies, and she manages all donor relations.

Dina Ben-Yehuda
Dean, Hadassah - Hebrew University School of Medicine

Dina Ben-Yehuda received her medical degree from Ben-Gurion University’s Medical School. She went on to pursue her medical training as an intern and resident at Hadassah University Hospital, specializing in hematology. Her training in basic research started at the Hebrew University’s Medical School’s Lautenberg Center, followed by a fellowship at the Sloan Kettering Institute for Cancer Research in New York.

Upon her return to Israel, Prof. Ben-Yehuda started a lab for the diagnosis and research of malignant hematological diseases at Hadassah-Hebrew University School of Medicine. In 2000, she was appointed Professor at the Faculty of Medicine, and has since been running the hospital’s Hematology Department. She is involved in innovative research, focusing on the use of a novel pro-apoptotic protein packed in nanoparticles as a treatment for lymphoma. She also does extensive clinical work.

Over the years, Prof. Ben-Yehuda has received numerous prizes for excellence as an outstanding physician and teacher. Her work has contributed tremendously to the field of hematology and cancer research. Since October 2017, Prof. Ben-Yehuda has been serving as the first female Dean of the Faculty of Medicine at the Hebrew University.

Danny Ben-Zvi
Zuckerman Faculty Scholar, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

For his PhD in Life Sciences at the Weizmann Institute of Science, Danny Ben-Zvi asked the question: How does an embryo coordinate its developmental patterning processes with its actual size? The question was an old one, but his experiments led to a new mathematical model for how patterning scales with size that is now part of developmental biology textbooks.

During his subsequent training at Harvard, where he was a Fulbright and Rothschild post-doctoral fellow, Dr. Ben-Zvi switched fields. He studied the new physiology that ensues after bariatric (“weight loss”) surgeries leading to rapid diabetes resolution and sustained weight loss. Today Dr. Ben-Zvi is an assistant professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem-Hadassah Medical School, and he continues to study how bariatric surgeries affect metabolism and physiology. His long-term goal is to discover how to achieve the positive effects of bariatric surgery without surgical intervention, potentially leading to a cure for type 2 diabetes and to reversing obesity.

Gili Bisker
Zuckerman Faculty Scholar, Tel Aviv University

Gili Bisker conducts research in the Biomedical Engineering Department of Tel Aviv University, where she studies the interface between physics, life sciences, and nanotechnology engineering.

She also works on health-related technologies and applications.
In her lab, Dr. Bisker develops optical nanosensors for targeting biomolecules using fluorescent nanomaterials. Her goal is to utilize these optically active nanoparticles to probe living systems at the nanoscale, aiming for real-time detection of intracellular biomarker dynamics with high spatial and temporal resolution. Focusing on cancer research, her tools can enable long-term monitoring, and open new opportunities for diagnostics and treatment.

Limor Freifeld
Zuckerman Faculty Scholar, Technion – Israel institute of Technology

Limor Freifeld’s Neuro-Engineering lab is part of the Technion’s Faculty of Biomedical Engineering. Dr. Freifeld relates the fine-scale organization of synapses and neural circuits to brain function by developing fluorescent nanoscopy, neural activity imaging and behavior tracking technologies.

Her research utilizes the larval zebrafish model together with these technologies to both explain the function of intact brains and characterize dysfunction in neurological disorders, thus enabling the development of effective interventions.

Irit Idan
Executive Vice President of Research Development, RAFAEL - Advanced Defense Systems
Irit Idan is the Executive Vice President for Research and Development at RAFAEL – Advanced Defense Systems Ltd., Israel’s third largest defense company, and a global leader in the development of breakthrough defense systems.
Dr. Idan holds a Ph.D. in Astrophysics from the Faculty of Physics at the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology. In parallel to her work at Rafael, she has continued to advance her academic research in Theoretical Astrophysics. She has received numerous research grants and published scientific journal and conference papers on accretion discs and novae evolution.
She serves on the Board of Directors of several companies, both in Israel and abroad, and is a member of the Technion Council and the Technion International Board of Governors.
Dr. Idan served as a senior member of the Steering Committee of Israel’s Grand Strategy Forum, led by Prof. Uzi Arad. The Forum submitted its report to the President of the State of Israel in 2017.
Lisa Lewin
Vice President, BNY Mellon’s Pershing NY

Lisa Lewin is a Vice President at BNY Mellon’s Pershing, responsible for new business development and managing existing relationships with hedge funds and asset managers within the Prime Services unit. Ms. Lewin’s experience spans from consulting on liquid alternatives to helping funds structure complex financing solutions. She participates in a number of speaking engagements aimed at educating investors on the benefits of including alternative strategies in their portfolios.

Prior to joining Pershing in 2008, Ms. Lewin was a public relations manager for Toys “R” Us, Inc., where she was responsible for developing the firm’s public relations strategies and served as a corporate spokesperson for reporters and industry analysts. During her tenure, Lisa developed and implemented media and public relations campaigns for numerous national programs, including Toys for Tots, Autism Speaks, and the company’s toy safety initiative.

Lisa earned a Bachelor of Arts degree with Honors in History from the University of Kansas. She completed her undergraduate degree in three years and earned Highest Distinction upon graduation. She is Phi Beta Kappa. Her philanthropic interests include financial literacy and the advancement of diversity and inclusion in the financial services industry.

Moran Shalev-Benami
Zuckerman Faculty Scholar, Weizmann Institute of Science

Moran Shalev-Benami is a faculty member in the Department of Structural Biology at the Weizmann Institute of Science.

In her lab, she uses cryogenic electron microscopy (cryo-EM) – a cutting-edge technology that enables visualization of biological molecules at near-atomic resolution – to study the complicated 3D architecture of proteins: macromolecular machineries residing within our cells that mediate every aspect of cellular physiology.

Rahav Shalom Revivo
Manager, Fintech and Cyber Innovations at the Israel Ministry of Finance

Rahav Shalom Revivo is Fintech and Cyber Innovations Manager at the Israeli Ministry of Finance. She has more than 20 years experience in R&D management with a focus on cybersecurity, fintech (financial technology), DevOps (improving the relationship between development and IT operations), and cloud solutions. She is part of the Israeli National Financial Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) and is the founder of the Fintech-Cyber Innovation lab program – the first initiative in the world that leverages governmental assets and data in order to promote fintech and cyber startups in an open innovation platform.

Ms. Shalom Revivo was named by Lattice80 as one of the top 100 women to know and follow in the Fintech industry in 2019. She works to actively promote women in the tech industry on the national and municipal level.

Hadas Soifer
Zuckerman Faculty Scholar, Tel Aviv University

Hadas Soifer is a member of the faculty in the School of Physics and Astronomy at Tel Aviv University. As she explains, modern technology is built upon our deep understanding of materials and their physical properties.

In her lab, Dr. Soifer explores the possibilities of nonlinear optical phenomena in quantum materials to enable a better understanding of the coupling of light to topological band structures. Focusing in particular on photocurrent generation – where light absorbed in the material induces a current flow – is of special promise for paving the way to optical quantum control of currents in devices.

Yael Yaniv
Associate Professor, Technion - Israel Institute of Technology

Yael Yaniv is in the Faculty of Biomedical Engineering at the Technion, and is currently the head of the Bioelectrical and Bioenergetics System Lab. Her lab explores the clocks in pacemaker tissue in mammals, including humans. Prof. Yaniv received her B.Sc. in both Electrical and Mechanical Engineering, her M.Sc. in Electrical Engineering, and her Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering, all from the Technion—IIT, Israel. She completed a postdoctoral fellowship in the Laboratory of Cardiovascular Sciences at the National Institute on Aging, National Institutes of Health, under the auspices of Dr. Edward Lakatta. She was a Research Fellow at the National Institute of Aging, National Institutes of Health. She has been honored with awards for innovation, research, and excellence in teaching.

Ada Yonath
Director of the Helen and Milton A. Kimmelman Center for Biomolecular Structure & Assembly
Weizmann Institute of Science
Winner of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, 2009

Ada Yonath was called “a dreamer” when she began to study ribosomes ­­­in order to solve their structure and potentially provide unprecedented insight into the way genetic code translated into proteins. At the time, numerous attempts by top scientific teams around the world had failed to get these complex structures of protein and RNA to take on a crystalline form. But in 1980, after a staggering 25,000 attempts, Yonath and her colleagues succeeded in creating the first ribosome crystals.

In 2009, Prof. Yonath was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for “her studies of the structure and function of the ribosome.” To date, she is one of only five women to ever receive the Chemistry Prize in Nobel’s 108-year history.

Prof. Yonath’s discoveries have stimulated intensive research around the globe. Her research has revealed the details of how genetic information is decoded, how the ribosome’s inherent flexibility contributes to antibiotic selectivity, and the secrets of cross-resistance to various antibiotic families. Her findings are crucial for developing advanced antibiotics.

Prof. Yonath is a professor of Structural Biology, and head of the  Martin S. and Helen Kimmel Center for Biomolecular Structure & Assembly at the Weizmann Institute of Science.

Yaffa Zilbershats
Chair, Planning and Budget Committee, Israeli Council of Higher Education

Yaffa Zilbershats is the current Chair of the Planning and Budgeting Committee of the Israeli Council of Higher Education. This independent body acts as an intermediary between the Israeli government and institutions such as national funds or public organizations and institutions of higher education. Prof. Zilbershats previously served as Deputy President of Bar-Ilan University, and served as Dean of the Faculty of Law at the University.

Prof. Zilbershats has published numerous articles in various areas of international and constitutional law. She published a book in English, The Human Right to Citizenship.

She has served on public committees for: preparing immigration and citizenship legislation, drafting a constitution for the State of Israel, and drafting a new bill for equality in the army and civilian service.

Prof. Zilbershats served as the Deputy President of the International Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists, and as a board member of the Israel Democracy Institute.

Thomas Zurbuchen
Associate Administrator for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA

Thomas Zurbuchen works to ensure that NASA’s science missions are part of a balanced portfolio that enable great science, help us unveil the unknown, and facilitate a better understanding of our place in the cosmos. He brings a wealth of scientific research, engineering experience and hands-on knowledge to NASA’s world-class team of scientists and engineers. Dr. Zurbuchen sets the NASA Science strategy and enables the teams to carry it out. He has focused on inspiring learners of all ages and fostering an inclusive team of science leaders.

Dr. Zurbuchen has authored or coauthored more than 200 articles in refereed journals in solar and heliospheric phenomena. He has been involved with several NASA science missions involving Mercury, the Sun and more. He is an advocate of sharing NASA’s messages on social media and can be found on Twitter at the handle @Dr_ThomasZ.

Dr. Zurbuchen earned his Ph.D. and his Master of Science degree, both in Physics, from the University of Bern in Switzerland.