Dorit Hanein

Born: January 3, 1961 | Tel Aviv, IL

Dorit Hanein was born in Tel Aviv, Israel, but grew up in Fortaleza, CearĂ¡, Brazil. After high school and a stint in the Israeli Army, Hanein enrolled in Shenkar Institute of Textile Technology; there she worked with Dr. Shalev on developing a fire-retardant textile. After receiving her degree, she spent a year in the chemical industry, which she found male-dominated and stodgy. Hanein then followed Shalev's suggestion that she pursue a graduate degree at the Weizmann. She was accepted and worked on biomineralization and on the specificity of crystal-cell interactions. Hanein decided to spend her first postdoctoral year in Boston with Tom Rapoport (Harvard Medical School) and Chris Akey (Boston University); Hanein had both Fulbright and Rothschild Fellowships at this time. At the end of this year, she went to Brandeis University, to work with David DeRosier, one of the founders of three-dimensional, high resolution electron microscopy image analysis. During that time she learned and practiced biochemistry with Paul Matsudaira at the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research. Following her postrgraduate work, Hanein accepted a position at Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute.

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Interview Details

Interview no.: Oral History 0676
No. of pages: 125

Interview Sessions

Nicole C. Nelson
3 December 2008
Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute, La Jolla, California

Abstract of Interview

Dorit Hanein was born in Tel Aviv, Israel, but grew up in Fortaleza, CearĂ¡, Brazil, where her family was engaged in an Israeli-Dutch program to foster soybean cultivation. She and her sister attended all-girl, Roman Catholic schools that accommodated their Jewish upbringing. In the middle of high school, Hanein's mother decided to return to Israel so that the girls would absorb Jewish culture. There, Hanein had to learn Hebrew and also discovered a passion for chemistry. After high school, she enlisted in mandatory service in the Israeli Army. Hanein had difficulties accommodating to army life, as she could not eat army food, which then did not have diets for strict vegetarians. She was unable to participate in guard duty due to an inability to pass basic weapons training, so she was placed in a computer programming track. After the Army, Hanein worked for three years at a car rental agency, which eventually became an unfulfilling job. At that time, she accepted her mother's repeated suggestion to enroll in undergraduate studies. She joined the Shenkar Institute of Textile Technology; there she worked with Dr. Shalev on developing a fire-retardant textile. During the summer break of her third year, she enrolled in a program at the Weizmann Institute of Science, which left a lasting impression on Hanein. After receiving her degree, she spent a year in the chemical industry, which she found male-dominated and stodgy. Hanein then followed Shalev's suggestion that she pursue a graduate degree at the Weizmann. She was accepted and worked on biomineralization and on the specificity of crystal-cell interactions. Required to take biology classes for a chemistry PhD, Benjamin Geiger joined Lia Addadi as her advisor. While publishing four papers during her graduate career, she also gave birth to twin girls. Wanting to expand her knowledge Hanein toured four labs that could provide the training and know-how that cryo-electron microscopy demands. She decided to spend her first postdoctoral year in Boston with Tom Rapoport (Harvard Medical School) and Chris Akey (Boston University); Hanein had both Fulbright and Rothschild Fellowships at this time. At the end of this year, she joined David DeRosier, one of the founders of three-dimensional, high resolution electron microscopy image analysis, for creating three-dimensional structures from electron microscope images of actin complexes. During that time she learned and practiced biochemistry with Paul Matsudaira at the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research. Near the end of her postdoctoral work, Hanein began to search for jobs; among others, Northwestern University and the Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute provided offers. Her decision was made easier when her daughters wanted a house in California because it had a swimming pool. Having a commitment for supporting basic research and a dedicated electron microscope unit clinched the deal. During the interview Hanein talks about the influence of the Pew Scholars Program in the Biomedical Sciences grant; her continuing work with Arp 2/3 complex; collaborations with Rong Li and Thomas Pollard; and her own mentoring style. She describes her view of her own personality and explains that she is becoming more diplomatic, though not less forceful. She talks about fun and scholarly profit at the Pew annual meetings, where she has won a prize for the best hairdo. She discusses the hardships in seeking funds for basic research in the current atmosphere which promotes the applicability (translation) of research. Hanein concludes her interview with a discussion of the difficulties for women in the biophysical sciences.

Education

Year Institution Degree Discipline
1987 Shenkar Institute of Textile Technology, BSc Chemistry
1989 Weizmann Institute of Science MSc Chemistry
1995 Weizmann Institute of Science PhD Chemistry

Professional Experience

Boston University

1994 to 1995
Postdoctoral Fellow, Structural Biology

Brandeis University

1995 to 1999
Postdoctoral Fellow, Structural Biology

Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute

1999 to 2005
Assistant Professor
2005
Associate Professor

University of California, San Diego

2005
Adjunct Professor

Honors

Year(s) Award
1994

Elchanan E. Bondi Memorial Prize for PhD students

1994 to 1995

Rothschild Post-Doctoral Fellowship

1994

Fulbright Junior Researcher Award

1996

Gerhard M. J. Schmidt Memorial Prize for PhD Thesis

2000 to 2003

Pew Scholar in the Biomedical Sciences

2002

Burnham Faculty Award

Table of Contents

Early Years
1

Born in Tel Aviv, Israel. Growing up in Fortaleza, Brazil. Parents' work. Roman Catholic schools. Return to Israel. High school. Learning Hebrew. Developing passion for chemistry. Israeli army. Vegetarianism. Computerprogramming instead of guard duty.

College
20

Working in car rental agency. Matriculates into Institute of Textile Technology. Works on fire retardant chemicals under Dr. Shalev. Summer program atWeizmann Institute of Science. After graduation spends a year in industry. Finds engineering male-dominated and calcified.

Weizmann Institute of Science
28

Dr. Shalev and applying to Weizmann for graduate degree. Works onbiomineralization and crystal-cell interactions. All-consuming nature of science. Studies crystal formation. Biology classes with Benjamin Geiger. Publishesfour papers. Loves cryomicroscopy. All work at Weizmann in English.

Postdoc Years
53

Work requires special electron microscope. Tours four labs. Decides onBrandeis University. Paul Matsudaira David DeRosier. Tom Rapoport. Imageanalysis of filament structures shows how to create three-dimensional structuresfrom electron microscope images. Fulbright and Rothschild Fellowships. Lifeat the Weizmann.

Job Hunting
83

Intent to return to Weizmann changes. Job offers. Northwestern Universityand Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute. Special electron microscopesrequired. Still takes own pictures.

Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute
91

Influence of Pew Scholars Program in the Biomedical Sciences grant. Arp 2/3. Collaboration with Rong Li and Thomas Pollard. Lab life. Mentoring style. Her children at Pew meetings. Discussion of fun and work at Pew meetings. Applied research. Requirements of National Institutes of Health grants. Difficulties for women in biophysical sciences.

Index
115

About the Interviewer

Nicole C. Nelson