|A Friday Story|
Every year, talented Hadassah doctors are presented with exciting and challenging possibilities of pursuing their education and research abroad. Because we believe good medicine thrives on exposure to ideas, we encourage them to take advantage of the opportunity and assist them when we can. At the same time, we are well aware that the professional prospects they will discover and the offers they will receive might mean that they won’t return to us – but the majority do.
Over the years, literally hundreds of our physicians and researchers have come back from abroad. Sharing what they have learned in theory and in practice, they have enriched us with their new knowledge and skills that have advanced research and enhanced patient treatment.
I would like to tell you about four intensely passionate and dedicated doctors who recently returned. Like those who preceded them, they came back brimming with new experiences and ideas, high hopes and great dreams, for their profession, for their patients and for our Medical Center.
These four doctors work in four different fields; two who have earned PhD’s as well as medical degrees; two are native Israelis and two came to Israel as immigrants. Accompanied by spouses and children, these two men and two women transplanted themselves to learn from world leaders in their fields. All are deeply involved in their work; all of them returned to Israel imbued with energy and excitement. All of them call Hadassah home.
Dr. Vladimir Goldman, a specialist in pediatric orthopedics, spent two years as a Fellow at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City, the hospital that he calls “the orthopedic mecca.” He became part of Hadassah four months after arriving in Israel with his parents at the age of 20. Equipped with a nursing diploma and a year-and-a-half of medical school in Minsk, he began his medical career as a Hadassah nurse, took time out for the army and finished his medical studies with us, while working as a nurse to finance his education.
As a resident, he was inspired by Prof. Iri Liebergall, Chairman of the Orthopedic Surgery Complex, to pursue his fellowship that focused on correcting deformities. “Prof. Liebergall is working with a vast field of biological ideas to treat complex conditions,” Dr. Goldman said. “Orthopedics is a mix of biology and mechanics but biology is the cutting edge.” Emulating his example, Dr. Goldman decided to specialize in correcting orthopedic deformities and lengthening limbs, with the emphasis on biology. Inserting a piece of bone for children born with a “short leg” condition means that they will stand and walk properly; correcting clubfeet in adults puts their bodies back into position. The impact is enormous, both physically and emotionally. “I dream of establishing a limb lengthening service at Hadassah and hope to have that field recognized as an official subspecialty. No hospital in the country provides a service for this subspecialty,” he said. “Hadassah is the place that can lead the way.”
Dr. Yael Houri-Haddad is a dentist with a PhD in Oral Biology. She acquired both degrees at Hadassah where she now teaches, treats patients and conducts research in the Department of Prosthodontics – Oral Rehabilitation – of our Dental School. She spent her sabbatical year at Boston University’s School of Dental Medicine doing research on inflammatory gum disease – how to modify and control the inflammation so it won’t become chronic. Funded by an Israel Science Foundation grant, she devoted the following year to exploring the disease’s genetic component at the Forsyth Institute, a Harvard affiliate. Now that she has returned home, her studies in Boston will augment her research on the genetic basis of gum disease and how this information will help her patients.
Long before she arrived in Israel from Tunisia at the age of 14, she was already familiar with Hadassah because “my mother used to travel from Tunisia to Hadassah for treatment. I began my Hadassah life doing my National Service in the Department of Orthopedics, was accepted by both the Medical School and the Dental School, chose dentistry and have been part of Hadassah ever since.”
Fresh from completing her residency in our Department of Dermatology, Dr. Vered Molho-Pessach spent a year as a Pediatric Dermatology Fellow at New York University’s Langone Medical Center, exploring all the clinical aspects of her specialty. “In Israel, pediatric dermatology is practiced as a subspecialty – and only by a very few experts,” she said. “NYU’s Department of Dermatology is one of the largest in the United States and is well known for the breadth and scope of its patient population.”
The next year, Dr. Molho-Pessach moved to Dallas where she worked in the laboratory of a renowned geneticist at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. “There I was exposed to the most updated techniques in genetics and learned to analyze data of whole genome sequencing, a revolutionary approach in genetic research.” She believes her fellowship in New York and her experience in Dallas provided her with extensive experience that she hopes to utilize in her clinical work in Hadassah.
Even before she left for America, Dr. Molho-Pessach was already involved in exploring the genetics of skin and hair disease, dedicating an extra year to genetic research during her residency. Working with Prof. Abraham Zlotogorski, Director of Hadassah’s Center for Genetic Diseases of the Skin and Hair, they described a novel genetic disease, involving the skin and many other organs and identified the gene, responsible for this condition.
Dr. Yuval Gielchinsky, an obstetrician with a PhD in molecular biology, is a specialist in Fetal Medicine. He returned to his native Jerusalem last December and set out to apply the knowledge and skills he learned during the two-and-one-half years he spent studying with the founder of the first Fetal Medicine Unit in the United Kingdom at King’s College in London.
At Hadassah he has begun establishing a Fetal Medicine Unit. This relatively new multidisciplinary field focuses solely on the baby in the womb, he explained, unlike the current practice of regarding maternal and fetal medicine as a single entity. He has already altered conventional screening strategies, instituting first trimester screening – involving ultrasound and chromosome identification – to identify problems and anomalies during the 12th week of growth. He believes that “Hadassah is strong enough to set the example” and can lead the way in changing these guidelines and policies in Israel.
Trained to recognize fetal medical conditions, Dr. Gielchinsky has introduced the endoscopic examination of the womb to provide additional information on the baby’s condition. If the endoscopy reveals a problem, he is experienced in how to handle it and when it is appropriate how to intervene to rectify it so the fetus develops normally. Operating on the fetus in the womb, he has been able to provide blood transfusions and correct developmental abnormalities, such as ensuring that twins each have an individual source of blood and repairing hernias.
Before he left for London, Dr. Gielchinsky was the Principle Investigator of the Hadassah-Hebrew University research team that made the groundbreaking discovery that pregnancy restores liver regeneration in aged mice. When published, the implications of their finding created international interest as it could eventually be relevant to other tissues and organs and lead to the ability to stimulate their regeneration.
These young men and women are among the best and the brightest of the next generation of medical professionals. By granting them fellowships, leading medical institutions around the world recognize their promise – and the outstanding level of education and training they received at Hadassah.
I am sure they could practice medicine and conduct research anywhere in the world they wished – yet all of them chose to come back to Israel – and specifically to Hadassah. While family, friends and a sense of home played an important role in returning to Israel, they felt their professional potential could best be realized at our Medical Center.
“Here you can make changes,” Dr. Gielchinsky said. “Here you can do things that make a difference.” Without consulting his colleague, Dr. Goldman concurred. “Being part of Hadassah’s orthopedic team gives me the opportunity to learn the best techniques from all over the world and expand on them here.”
“For me,” said Dr. Molho-Pessach, “it feels natural to be in Israel and at Hadassah. I learned a lot during my residency at Hadassah – and added to my knowledge while abroad – which will help me diagnose and treat my patients here.”
Dr. Houri-Haddad seemed to sum up all their feelings when she said “This is my country, this is my home. Hadassah is my home.”
I know you share my pride that the Hadassah Medical Organization, which prepared them so well for this important step in their careers – and my pride that for them and countless others, Hadassah is home.
Prof. Shlomo Mor-Yosef
Hadassah Medical Organization