Dr. Shalev-Benami is a faculty member at the Department of Structural Biology at the Weizmann Institute of Science. Before joining the institute, she completed a postdoc fellowship at the University of Michigan and at Stanford University.
Dr. Shalev-Benami 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.
During her postdoctoral studies, Dr. Shalev-Benami worked on visualization of cellular targets residing within the parasitic protozoa Leishmania, a deadly pathogen afflicting millions around the globe. Atomic-level images obtained in this study revealed how anti-leishmanial drugs kill the parasite, and are helping to identify hotspots in the parasitic cell that could be targeted by new therapies.
In her lab, Dr. Shalev-Benami investigates the field of “specialized protein translation” – a recently emerging cellular mechanism that has been shown to regulate key physiological processes including cell differentiation, immune response and maintenance of proper neuronal activity. Her research is expected to shed light on this highly unexplored scientific niche and assist in identifying hotspots for the development of novel, targeted therapeutics.