Rosbash visit


Howard Hughes Investigator Michael Rosbash (Biology) Visits Al-Quds University, Tours Medical and Lab Facilities

March 2011

Michael RosbashMichael Rosbash (pictured, right), Brandeis Professor of Biology and Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator, visited our partner Al-Quds University in early March during a trip to the region. In addition to meeting with colleagues and friends in Tel Aviv, Rosbash spent a day touring the Al-Quds University campus in Abu Dis. He met with scientists working in the Medical School and observed some of the complex conditions faced by Al-Quds faculty and staff.

It was his first visit to the West Bank. “It was quite an experience, and an education for me,” said Rosbash. The Dean of the Medical School, Dr. Hani Abdeen, took Rosbash around the labs. Among his meetings were appointments with two “energetic and exceptional” faculty members – Dr. Maysa Azzeh, a virologist, and Yousef Najajreh, a medicinal chemist. After training in Germany, Azzeh has collaborated with both German and Israeli scientists and has set up her own lab, gaining international recognition. Najajreh was at work on “modifying compounds with biological activity, to improve their efficacy, mosty in the anti-cancer arena” according to Rosbash.

He was able to obverse both the entrepreneurial spirit and the frustration of scientists at Al-Quds. “Classes are big as are teaching loads,” he said. In particular, the medical scientists struggle with obtaining the necessary materials – including human cadavers – for their work and teaching, and even their top MD graduates still have trouble obtaining medical licenses.

Rosbash also toured the campus with Sinan Abu Shanab, a member of the Undergraduate Exchange, and an Al-Quds graduate who now works for the University in public relations. Abu Shanab told Rosbash of his transformative experiences on the Summer Institute in Istanbul, and his new-found friendships with Brandeis students.

Rosbash also discussed future directions for collaboration with Al-Quds Partnership Director Khuloud Khayyat Dajani, a public health expert and assistant to the President. It was clear that a chief need is further training and access to facilities and research opportunities for junior and up-and-coming faculty, particularly women academics. This is indeed a concept now being worked on by the partnership leadership team.