Professor Rivka Dresner Pollak, Hadassah Medical Center 

Heads the Department of Endocrinology, Metabolism and Diabetes at Haddasah Medical Center. In 2019 she was awarded a BIRAX Ageing grant to work with Professor Lynne Cox from the Department of Biochemistry at the University of Oxford on a project that research how the ageing of the cells impacts bone fragility in people with type 1 diabetes.

“I was very keen to work with British counterparts, however funding opportunities for such projects were scares’’ Rivka said. “My collaboration with Lynne began when I approached her at a conference after hearing her presentation. Although we specialise in very different fields, the BIRAX grant enabled us to develop this multidisciplinary project. In addition, it opened new opportunities for me to expand my network as Lynne has introduced me to a new group of researchers in Europe. Collaboration with British scientists has immense benefits to Israeli science. Particularly in my field of biomedicine, access to the unique data and knowledge held in the UK could advance research in precision medicine. Collaboration between Israeli and British researchers is essential to making that leap forward.” 

This project is one of three BIRAX projects led by two women Principal Investigators, whereas previous cohorts were predominantly led by men. Rivka added “When I joined the department of Endocrinology 20 years ago, I was the only senior physician woman in my department. Today we have one man in a team of seven. While we see a substantial increase of women in science generally and in the Hebrew University in particular, there is still a substantial gender gap when it comes to senior academic and managerial roles. As one of the fewfull professor women inmy institution, it is very important to me to support the next generation of women in medicine and science. From my own personal experience I know the particular challenges that women face at different times in their careers, and I pay special attention to accommodate my team members’ needs. I know that balancing work and personal lives can be difficult to women, meaning that some career milestones may be reached at a slower pace. I therefore invest a lot of time and effort in mentoring the early career physician scientists in my department in every stage of their career. Academic excellence sees no gender, but we need this sensitivity to ensure that the talent of women is realised to the full. And this sensitivity can be most heartedly applied when women work with women.”