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BEN-GURION UNIVERSITY OF THE NEGEV


Shining a light


Research initiatives have the power to profoundly impact the lives of people around the world, and for Ben-Gurion University researchers, this has become a reality


Most scientists share the same dream — that their discoveries will one day change the world. Dr Ankit Verma is one of those dreamers. Alongside fellow international and Israeli students and researchers, Dr Verma works with Prof Varda Shoshan-Barmatz, a world-renowned researcher as well as one of the founders and the first director of the National Institute for Biotechnology in the Negev (NIBN). “We’re studying a protein that has a central role


in the life and death of the cell and its overexpression in diseases, including cancers, Alzheimer’s disease, cardiovascular diseases, IBDs and type 2 diabetes,” says Dr Verma. In particular, the group is now exploring the role of the protein VDAC1, which acts as a mitochondrial gatekeeper. After completing a PhD in Life


Sciences in India, Dr Verma was looking for his next challenge. NIBN, which functions as an R&D company, appealed to him. “I was looking for an institute that focused on groundbreaking research with a real impact,” he says. “Hearing about Ben-Gurion


University was exciting because I knew Israel was well-known for high-quality research, and I wanted to be part of that.” Ben-Gurion University (BGU) is renowned for its


scientific innovation, cross-disciplinary and applied research that impacts people’s lives — and NIBN is a great example of how these qualities come into practice. According to Dr Osnat Ohne, NIBN CEO, the institute represents a unique framework, incorporating excellence in science with innovation, applicability and development. “We provide state-of-the-art laboratories, research and manpower grants, intellectual property strategy and guidance, project management, business development leadership and legal services,” she says. When asked about life at BGU, Dr Verma


says: “I feel at home. I enjoy the opportunity to meet and get to know Israeli and international students through research and events organized by BGU International. “Overall, BGU and NIBN is the place for international scholars who wish to be involved and contribute to academic research that will better mankind and society.”


Deichmann Plaza at sunset BELOW: Prof Varda Shoshan- Barmatz, first director of NIBN


In 2019, BGU was ranked 15th among the world’s leading young universities in the natural sciences field by Nature Index


2021 | Israeli Academia 9


IMAGES: WEIZMANN INSTITUTE OF SCIENCE; DANI MACHLIS, BEN-GURION UNIVERSITY OF THE NEGEV


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