WOMEN’S POWER OF THE HADASSAH CLINIC ON THE FRONTLINE IN THE WAR WITH CANCER
These women are leading employees of the Cancer Research Institute at the Hadassah Hospital. They work almost around the clock, constantly making new discoveries in diagnosis and treatment of malignant diseases, bringing the future and the complete victory over cancer closer.
For many years prof. Michal Lotem, head of the Institute and a leading specialist in immunotherapy, has been looking for ways to treat malignant skin tumors. Immunotherapy is a relatively young branch of oncology that uses the human immune system to destroy cancer cells.
“Over the past decade, a real revolution has taken place in this area. We figured out how to get the immune system into balance and direct it to fight cancer. There is a very wide choice for the scientist in this field. The ongoing clinical studies at the clinic prove the effectiveness of our developments, and today we are leaders in this field,” explains prof. Lotem.
Deputy of prof. Lotem, Amalia Hershkowitz, started working at the Institute only six months ago. Prior to that, she was the CEO of the company developing a cure for the coronavirus and a method for early cancer detection. For many years, Hershkowitz has been involved in the development of new medical technologies and drugs. She believes that the future lies in the joint work of hospitals, universities and leading pharmaceutical and technological companies, which will quickly implement and make available theoretical discoveries and developments.
For over 25 years, prof. Lotem has been advancing and leading researches in cancer immunotherapy, especially in melanoma treatment. She receives help from her colleagues, Dr. Jonathan Cohen and Dr. Sharon Merims, as well as prof. Aaron Popovtzer, current head of the Sharett Institute of Oncology, representatives of the hospital administration and the leadership of the international women’s organization “Hadassah” that is patronizing the clinic. Cancer Research Institute, headed by Prof. Lotem was conceived and created as a research center where innovative developments in the field of immunotherapy would be quickly implemented and turned into specific drugs, technologies and methods that help patients.
“Our center is a unique institution. On the one hand, its researchers are reliably protected from external influences and can engage in “pure” science, maintaining close connection with the Hebrew University. On the other hand, we are all doctors working in the Hadassah hospital. We know what diagnostic and treatment tools are needed today, what are the hopes and demands of our patients, what side effects have to be eliminated, what pathologies are not yet amenable to therapy. This combination is not found anywhere else in Israel,” says prof. Lotem.
In addition, Prof. Lotem adds, this format allows to give more opportunities for promotion specifically for women. The Institute operates on the principles of cooperation and continuity, rather than competition, as is usually the case in industrial companies.
“Research work is a hard job, we slowly accumulate experience and knowledge, and then pass it on to a new generation,” says Dr. Galit Aizenberg, head of the Laboratory of Tumor Immunology at the Sharett Institute of Oncology.
“Working at our Institute is very suitable for women. There is no strict hierarchy here, as in a hospital, everyone works together, equally, being part of one multidisciplinary team. Everyone brings something of their own. In this regard, there is no difference between me and my students. All our achievements are common. And everyone has the same goal — to help sick people,” sums up prof. Lotem.