Faculty of Medicine Newsletter 75 (June 2023)

PDF for easier reading here.

Prof. Orly Avni: New Dean of the Azrieli Faculty of MedicineAvni

We welcome Prof. Orly Avni as the new Dean of the Azrieli Faculty of Medicine.

Prof. Avni holds a PhD from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and a post doctorate from Harvard University. Her area of expertise is immunology.

She shares: "I am honored and excited to have been appointed Dean of the Azrieli Faculty of Medicine. I look forward to leading this important academic institution in the Galilee as it positively and energetically impacts the fields of medical training and research. Our strong presence was felt during our first decade, and we will continue to grow, expand, and influence the periphery in particular and Israel as a whole in our second decade."

Prof. Avni follows the leadership of Prof. Karl Skorecki who served as Dean from Fall 2018 and Prof. Chaim Putterman, Acting Dean since the Winter of 2022.


White Coat CeremonyWhite Coat

The eleventh cohort of four-year track MD students, 104 men and women, our future physicians, received their White Coats at an inspiring ceremony on June 11, 2023. More details here.

Congratulations Doctoral Degree Graduates

The following students (advisors in parentheses) received their doctoral degrees this year. Diplomas were handed out at the BIU Ramat Gan campus graduation ceremony on June 29, 2023. Congratulations!

  • Dr. Ligat Shalev (Prof. Mary Rudolf, Dr. Sivan Spitzer, Prof. Anthony Luder z”l) 
  • Dr. Guy Journo (Prof. Meir Shamay)
  • Dr. Dalia Niv (Prof. David Karasik)    `
  • Dr. Iryna Khrystoforova (Prof. David Karasik)
  • Dr. Ipsita Chatterjee (Prof. Evan Elliott)      
  • Dr. Trishna Saha Detroja (Dr. Avraham Samson, Dr. Hava Gil-Henn)      
  • Dr. Katreena Yamin (Prof. Itay Onn)
  • Dr. Alexandra Boginya (Prof. Itay Onn)      
  • Dr. Rajesh Detroja (Dr. Milana Frenkel-Morgenstern)      
  • Dr. Liron Davis (Prof. Evan Elliott)   
  • Dr. Inass Kayyal-Tarabeia (Prof. Michael Blank, Dr. Keren Agay-Shay)   

It’s Application, Interview, and Entrance Exam SeasonFirst day

  • Three-year MD program (2024-25) applications will be accepted through July 9, 2023. Entrance exam and interviews will be held in Safed in August 2023.
  • Good luck to four-year MD program applicants who had their interviews this month.
  • Good luck to the new six-year MD program applicants who had the opportunity to see the Safed campus while coming for their entrance exams this month (pictured here).

Appointments and Promotions

Congratulations to Prof. Moshe Dessau upon his promotion to Associate Professor.

Awards and CongratulationsHanaa and Avi

  •  Congratulations to PhD student Miriam Kakon (Dr. Miriam Bentwich advisor) upon receipt of a very prestigious Israeli Presidential Scholarship for Scientific Excellence and Innovation. She is researching social space as a mechanism enabling meaning and fostering human dignity in the healthy adult.
  • Congratulations to PhD student Sunada Biswas Mukhe (Dr. Milana Frenkel-Morgenstern advisor) upon receipt of  DSI Outstanding Paper Award Scholarship.
  • Congratulations to PhD Student Olawumi Giwa (Dr. Milana Frenkel-Morgenstern advisor) upon receipt of a BIU Gender Equity travel grant.
  • Congratulations to Rector’s Prize (Dean’s List) recipients, Inbar Ben Zvi Eisler (Prof. David Karasik advisor) and Hanaa Shalan (Prof. Avi Peretz advisor). Ceremony was held at BIU in Ramat Gan on June 5, 2023. Pictured here, Hanaa with Dr. Avi Peretz.

June Seminars

  • Faculty Seminar: The enhancer code - crosstalk in 3D (Dr. Ofir Hakim, BIU)
  • Faculty Seminar: Neurodegenerative diseases: Mechanisms and Prevention (Prof. Yifat Miller, BGU)
  • Faculty Seminar: A toolbox for single-molecule epigenetic analysis of DNA (Prof. Yuval Ebenstein, TAU)
  • Faculty Seminar: The Battle of Sexes: Studying the Regulation of Mammalian Sex Determination (Dr. Nitzan Gonen, BIU)
  • PhD Seminar: Deciphering the effects of molecular and epidemiological factors on COVID-19 infection and its severity using computational analysis (Sunada Biswas Mukhem, Dr. Milana Frenkel-Morgenstern advisor)
  • PhD Seminar: The role of srebf1 and sox6 on musculoskeletal health in zebrafish genetic model (Donaka Rajashekar, Prof. David Karasik advisor)

BIU Rector Visits Keren LabKeren and Rector

BIU Rector, Prof. Amnon Albeck, and Faculty of Medicine Dean, Prof. Orly Avni, visited Dr. Hanna Keren’s (in center) new lab in Safed, to taste some virtual world fun on June 19, 2023. Dr. Keren: “These worlds will be used to study and model mood and emotions. If you are interested in this field and looking for graduate degree options, be in touch!"

AFBIU Visit to FacultyJennifer and Alona

The Faculty was honored to host Jennifer Zwiebel (to left) of the American Friends of Bar-Ilan who visited with Alona Gringauz (to right) from BIU Global Resource Development on June 29, 2023. Dr. Alon Barash escorted the visit and of course, shared his own research and expertise, including showcasing the Anatomage table. The visit included meetings with Prof. Meital Gal-Tanamy and a visit to the new Kita building a few blocks away which houses SPHERE and several Faculty researchers. There, Ms. Zwiebel met Dr. Hanna Keren, Martin Duifhuizen of SPHERE, and Moran Ben Yehuda, and was given the opportunity to marvel at the stunning view and even enjoy local humus.

Autism ConferenceAutism Conf

Dr. Julie Carmel, academic manager of the Israel Autism Biobank and Registry run by the lab of Prof. Evan Elliott, reports that an autism conference in the Russian language took place on June 2, 2023 in Netanya. The Registry organized the conference which discussed important topics such as child development, special needs, autism, and music therapy. Dr. Carmel discussed the biological aspects of autism, as well as therapy with the use of animals.

New Course: Sex and Gender MedicineSex gender course

Dr. Rola Khamisy Farah is excited to share details about a new course for which she serves as coordinator.

Sex and gender medicine is a relatively new field, designed to develop tools for optimal diagnosis and treatment with the understanding that the functioning of all body systems is affected by a person's sex and gender. It is important to implement gender-sensitive thinking in the health system and to adapt diagnosis and treatment accordingly. Lectures include an introduction to gender medicine delivered by a pioneer in the field, Prof. Mark Glazerman; the development of feminist theory, differences between sex and gender, social and psychological aspects, by Dr. Limor Meoded-Danon; a review of sex and gender-aware medical studies in Israel and around the world by Dr. Farah. In addition the course includes a workshop on gender bias, by Dr. Michal Sela and Dr. Ronal Glinkman, founders of Noga Fem.


Student Lifekayaking

  • “House”: For the second time this year, dozens of students viewed an episode of the series “House” in the Carasso Auditorium, then discussed the medical cases with Prof. Daniel Glikman.
  • Student Union elections on June 19, 2023: Congratulations to Tal Zadok the new Chair and Hend Heno the new Vice Chair.
  • “Student Day”: Activities on June 26, 2023 included kayaking at Kfar Blum, BBQ, and quality bonding time. Dozens of students and participants from affiliate hospitals had a great time.

Medical Cadet Ceremonycadets

Again this year the Faculty is proud to be part of the Eastern Galilee Cluster Medical Cadets high school program, and hosted the end of year ceremony at the Faculty on June 23, 2023. The program is geared towards outstanding students from the Galilee and the Golan who come to study medicine at the Faculty once a week for 3 years. As part of the program, the students write a thesis on a medical topic, supervised by researchers from participating institutes. (Picture from Eastern Galilee Facebook page.)

Atidim Program School Visitatidim

The Faculty was happy to host ninth graders from the “Rabin” School in Nesher on June 4, 2023. The children are part of the Ministry of Education “Kedam Atidim” excellence program and were split into three groups – microscopy, Genomic Center, and anatomy. Among other exciting experiences that day, the students via VR (virtual reality) were able to view a beating heart, layers of skin, the skeleton with and without muscles, and more.

Meet Our Researcher: Dr. Alon BarashBarash

This month we would like to introduce you to Dr. Alon Barash, a lecturer in Physical Anthropology, Human Anatomy & Evolution and as you will see, a very well-rounded interesting individual.

How do you spend your time at the Faculty and affiliated hospitals?

I study human anatomy and evolution, mainly the subject of the relationship between form and function. I participate in archaeological digs, and research with the help of CT of human bones. I also teach anatomy and neuroanatomy to medical students.

Tell us a bit about your background.


I completed all of my degrees at Tel Aviv University - bachelor's degree in biology, and master's and doctoral degrees in the department of anatomy at the Faculty of Medicine. Married to Ayelet and father of Noam and Amit. We have three dogs and four cats. I really like what I do, and I also like to run, travel, and take photographs.

Will you share with us where you live?

I am a member of Kibbutz Kadarim since we moved to the north in 2011. I am originally from Kfar Saba. We really enjoy living on a kibbutz, in a small and cohesive community.

What do you like most about what you do, your field.

I came to the profession by accident, of course. I wanted to research dinosaurs, but unfortunately there are not and never were dinosaurs in Israel. The closest thing were human fossils. I also really enjoy the interaction with the students, their questions and curiosity.

What is in your future?

To continue to intrigue the students, to continue to study fossils, and to find answers to the big questions of how we got, in terms of our anatomy, to where we are now.

What words of wisdon can you offer our current medical and research students?

Mainly use your head. Don't take anything for granted. Inquire, research, and learn.

Where do you see the field of medicine and research in the future?

The beauty of my field is that tomorrow we may find a fossil that will make us change everything we think or understand about human evolution as we know it today. But perhaps not. One must always look forward, and consider the meaning of each finding, trying to extract every single bit of information from it, while keeping an open mind in terms of the research and also personally.

Editor’s note: Dr. Barash’s wife Ayelet recently published an article in Scientific Reports based on her zoological doctoral research on jackals. Dr. Alon Barash also participated in this research. You can read up about it in Ynet.


Russell Berrie Galilee Diabetes SPHERESPHERE

  • On May 30, 2023 Prof. Naim Shehadeh and Dr. Tali Lang presented regarding trends in obesity and regarding SPHERE’s Social Prescription project at the "Healthy Israel - Healthy Lives for Youth" conference at the Peres Center for Innovation in Tel Aviv-Jafo.
  • On Thursday 22 June, 2023 the SPHERE Scientific Advisory Committee met with SPHERE’s leadership team to discuss the latest research projects of SPHERE and related research happening around the world.
  • On June 13, 2023 representatives of the Russel Berrie Foundation met with Prof. Naim Shehadeh, Dr. Sivan Spitzer and Martin Duifhuizen in Bet Kita to discuss the progress of the various SPHERE projects (below).SPHERE

Read up more about all SPHERE activities on their Facebook page here as well as on LinkdIn here.

Website: What’s New?


Reminder that publications by Azrieli faculty are generally posted in chronological order based on publication date, per PubMed listings. If you have published an article recently that appears on PubMed but that was not listed in a Newsletter, I apologize, and please do let me know.


Azrieli Faculty of Medicine, Bar-Ilan University, Safed, Israel


  • Chaim Putterman: Pathogenic cellular and molecular mediators in lupus nephritis (Nat Rev Nephrol .)
  • Olga Volodko, Natalia Volinsky, Nufar Margalit, Fabio Kusniec, Doron Sudarsky, Shemy Carasso, Offer Amir: Characterization of Systemic and Culprit-Coronary Artery miR-483-5p Expression in Chronic CAD and Acute Myocardial Infarction Male Patients (Int J Mo
  • Fadi Hassan, Helana Jeries, Mohammad E Naffaa: Challenges in the Timely Diagnosis of Behcet's Disease (Life (Basel) .)
  • Elias Saad, Basheer Maamoun, Assy Nimer: Increased Red Blood Cell Distribution Predicts Severity of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Exacerbation (J Pers Med . )
  • Edo Birati: The 2023 International Society for Heart and Lung Transplantation Guidelines for Mechanical Circulatory Support: A 10- Year Update (J Heart Lung Transplant . )
  • Ella Katony Eizenstat, Fadi Hassan, Ziv Paz, Mohammad E Naffaa: Biologic therapy is associated with malignancies among Israeli patients with rheumatoid arthritis: A population-based study (Int J Rheum Dis .)
  • Raneen Abu Shqara, Daniel Glikman, Saher Jad, Hagai Rechnitzer, Lior Lowenstein, Maya Frank Wolf: Time to reconsider antibiotic prophylaxis in women with prolonged rupture of membranes: The trend of Enterobacteriaceae in peripartum infections (Int J Gynae
  • Mahmud Darawshe, Luiza Akria, Ohad Ronen: A higher BMI is positively associated with advanced neck lymphoma at diagnosis (Eur J Intern Med .
  • Johnny S Younis: At what age endometriosis-associated ovarian cancer is diagnosed? The implications for women in the reproductive age (Front Oncol . )
  • Khalaf Kridin: Cutaneous lupus erythematosus is associated with an increased risk of cardiac and vascular diseases: a large-scale, propensity-matched global retrospective cohort study (EBioMedicine . )
  • Ofir Avizemel, Yishay Pinto, Sondra Turjeman, Omry Koren, Keren Agay-Shay: "Residential greenness, gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) and microbiome diversity during pregnancy" (Int J Hyg Environ Health . )
  • Ohad Ronen: Artificial Intelligence in Head and Neck Cancer: A Systematic Review of Systematic Reviews (Adv Ther .)
  • Mohammad Adawi: Ankylosing spondylitis is associated with increased prevalence of valvular heart diseases: a cross-sectional population-based study (Postgrad Med J . )
  • Surya Sukumaran, Shulamit Fluss Ben-Uliel, Nir Qvit: Rational design, synthesis and structural characterization of peptides and peptidomimetics to target Hsp90/Cdc37 interaction for treating hepatocellular carcinoma (Comput Struct Biotechnol J .)
  • Roni Cohen Shavit: The influence of the type of face mask used by healthcare providers during the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic on the report of pain: a cross-sectional study in a pediatric emergency department (Transl Pediatr . )
  • Khalaf Kridin, Masad Barhoum: Vitiligo and systemic lupus erythematosus: A population-based study investigating the epidemiological association (J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol . )
  • Sondra Turjeman, Omry Koren: The intersection of undernutrition, microbiome, and child development in the first years of life (Nat Commun.)
  • Keren Agay-Shay: Invited Perspective: Air Pollution and Congenital Heart Defects (CHDs)-a Summary of Two Decades and Future Direction in Research (Environ Health Perspect .)
  • Sondra Turjeman, Omry Koren: Ordering taxa in image convolution networks improves microbiome-based machine learning accuracy (Gut Microbes .)
  • Amani Daoud, Ohad Ronen: Decline in emergency department visits during the COVID-19 quarantine (Am J Emerg Med . )
  • Yair Blumberg: Respiratory gas kinetics in patients with congestive heart failure during recovery from peak exercise (Clinics (Sao Paulo) .)
  • Julie Carmel: Multi-level analysis of the gut-brain axis shows autism spectrum disorder-associated molecular and microbial profiles (Nat Neurosci . )
  • Ory Wiesel: A Novel Urine Test Biosensor Platform for Early Lung Cancer Detection (Biosensors (Basel) .)
  • Ali Tarabeih, Doua Bakry, Elena Bukovetzky, Orna D. Gottfried: Testing the Double Cause Hypothesis for Autoimmune Diseases, Dipalmitoylphosphatidylcholine Should be Measured in Plasma or Blood Vessels of Diabetes Type 1? (Medical Research Archives)

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