Natural Killer cells & Reproductive Immunology

MD-PhD student: 10/1998 – 03/2007

PhD advisor: Prof. Ofer Mandelboim – PhD

Chairman, The Lautenberg Center for General and Tumor Immunology

The Hebrew University of Jerusalem – Hadassah Medical School, Jerusalem, Israel

Field of Study: Natural Killer cells & Reproductive Immunology

            Summary of background and training:

I was born in a Palestinian Arab village in the northern part of Israel, and went on to study medicine at the Hebrew University, where I completed my undergraduate and graduate studies in biomedical and clinical studies (Summa Cum Laude). As I was always fascinated by the scientific findings that lead to the understanding of pathogenesis of human diseases, I simultaneously commenced work in Prof. Ofer Mandelboim’s lab as an M.D. Ph.D. student, studying the biology of natural killer (NK) cells. My research focused on understating the mechanisms underlying additional and alternative functions of human NK cells in the uterine mucosa during pregnancy and inflammatory tissues. By using combined genomic and proteomic approaches on unique human subsets of NK cells, I was able to establish previously unidentified roles for NK cells that go far beyond killing autologous infected or tumor cells. I identified their role as costimulatory and antigen presenting cells for activated T cells during inflammation (Hanna et al. J. Immunology 2004). I also defined mechanisms underlying their recruitment via chemokines to the maternal uterine mucosa (decidua), where they act as key players in promoting angiogenesis and tissue remodeling during pregnancy (Hanna et al. Blood 2003, Nature Medicine 2006). The latter work was voted in a special issue of Nature Medicine on reproductive biology, as the most influential paper in the field in the last 10 years.

In 2007, I decided to dedicate my career entirely for research, and joined the lab of Rudolf Jaenisch as a postdoctoral researcher.