Upon completing her undergraduate electrical engineering degree at Tel Aviv University, Shani Stern worked for several years at Motorola and Intel, developing speech and MODEM algorithms, and receiving the Motorola CEO award for research and development. She filed several successful patents as the lead inventor for improvements in speech algorithms.
Dr. Stern then returned to academia, eventually acquiring a PhD at the Physics Department of the Weizmann Institute, in collaboration with the Neurobiology Department. Her research centered on neuronal networks and excitability in health and disease. Her postdoctoral research at the Salk Institute in San Diego (in the lab of the Institute’s president) shed light on the cellular mechanisms underlying psychiatric disease.
In her lab at the University of Haifa, Dr. Stern focuses on four projects: bipolar disorder, Parkinson’s disease, and rare mutations that cause intellectual disability, epilepsy and autism. Dr. Stern uses molecular biology combined with biophysical, electrophysiological, and numerical simulation platforms to facilitate the use of induced pluripotent stem cell technologies (iPSC), where adult cells from human patients are reprogrammed into pluripotent stem cells. The derived human neurons have the same genetics as the patients and are therefore an excellent model for studying human brain disease and disorders. Since different biological processes can underlie similar symptoms among patients, Dr. Stern hopes that understanding the mechanisms that underly these disorders could lead to developing precision medicine programs and finding biomarkers for better diagnosis and improved prognosis of disease.