Eliana Steinberg is a 28 year old Israeli scientist who is using her expertise in nanotechnology to develop new treatments for cancer. Her work is expected to speed up the time it takes for doctors to determine the efficacy of certain cancer treatments, thereby allowing them to change treatments much sooner if it is necessary.
Steinberg, a pharmacist by profession, had a life changing experience that led her down a new path, returning to School to study for a doctorate and helping to cure disease. She is also one of 6 recipients of an Adams Fellowship.
The Adam Fellowship was established by the late businessman and philanthropist Marcel Adams, who escaped from a forced-labor camp in Romania in 1944, fought in Israel’s War of Independence and made his fortune in Montreal. He endowed the Adams Fellowship Program to support Israel’s brightest doctoral students in the natural and exact sciences each year.
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He moved to Canada in 1951 and worked as a tanner before going into real estate. He eventually developed dozens of properties, mostly in eastern Canada, including Galeries de la Capitale, the largest shopping mall in the province of Quebec. With his late wife Annie, he established Tel Aviv University’s Adams Institute for Business Management Information Systems and endowed the university’s Adams Super Center for Brain Research.
Adams died in 2020 at the age of 100.
Adams officially signed an agreement to establish the Adams Fellowships with the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities in Jerusalem in May 2005. The fund is large enough to provide $1 million annually to outstanding Ph.D. students, covering their full tuition and living expenses throughout four years of study and including funds for attending scientific conferences abroad. Most recipients are aged 26 to 34.
In an interview with Calcalist, Eliana Steinberg explained how her encounter with one cancer patient whom she met at her pharmacy led Steinberg on her new path.
“It was really sad to see before my eyes the progress of his illness and his helplessness,” she said, “especially when he was facing difficult treatments, which he was not at all sure would be successful. I wanted to help him practically with the disease itself, beyond giving explanations on how to take the medicines. I wanted to ease his suffering.”
As for her current research, Eliana Steinberg said, “Nowadays, it is possible to know if patients are responding to a certain treatment only after a few weeks or months. It is sad because for some of them, by the time they reach this stage, there is no time left to try other treatments, and they miss the opportunity to receive the treatment that was right for them. Furthermore, while they develop metastases, their bodies are further weakened by the chemotherapy treatments, and their ability to cope with the next treatment decreases. My method is designed to bypass this limitation.”
Eliana Steinberg was born and raised in Jerusalem. After completing her National Service, in which she tutored elementary school students with learning difficulties and new immigrants, she began her BSc studies in the School of Pharmacy at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. She made the Dean’s List and completed her degree cum laude, and then, feeling that it was important to implement what she had learned on a practical level, she worked as a licensed pharmacist for a year. Pursuing her passion for science and her desire to seek improved and innovative treatments, she went on to enter the MSc Pharm program at the Hebrew University, in the Nanotechnology excellence track. She earned her MSc Pharm cum laude and was awarded the prize for Outstanding Student in the MSc program with a specialization in Nanoscience and Nanotechnology.
Eliana Steinberg is now studying in the Hebrew University’s direct Ph.D. track under the supervision of Prof. Ofra Benny. Her research focuses on developing and perfecting 3-dimensional tumor-on-chip models that accurately reproduce the environment and behavior of individual cancer tumors. These models can be a key to the successful practice of personalized medicine: With the right model for the specific tumor, various drugs in different strengths can be tested on patient-derived tumor cells to determine the best treatment for each patient. It is very important to Eliana that her work has clinical relevance and will significantly help cancer patients.