Prof. Yardena Samuels is an Associate Professor and the Knell Family Professor at the Department of Molecular Cell Biology of the Weizmann Institute of Science.
Prof. Samuels has a long-standing interest in the molecular genetics of cancer, and she conducts research at the forefront of cancer genome analysis. After a PhD in Molecular Cancer Biology at the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, Imperial College, she pursued postdoctoral research with Prof. Bert Vogelstein at Johns Hopkins University, with whom she was the first to uncover the PIK3CA gene’s high frequency of mutations. This research significantly enhanced our understanding of the important role of these genes in human malignancies. Subsequent research has used her findings to develop models of cancer, further improving the understanding of cancer biology and leading to the development of novel cancer drugs – at least one of which is now FDA-approved for breast cancer treatment.
Her laboratory’s research focuses on the identification and characterization of gene mutations that play a role in the progression of cutaneous melanoma, with the goal of delineating ideal protein target combinations in melanoma towards lasting disease control. Over the years, the laboratory has identified and characterized multiple melanoma mutations, emphasizing their comprehensive functional analysis. Overall, Prof. Samuels’ contributions have promoted the understanding of melanoma biology, and provided new targets for melanoma diagnosis and treatment.She has received numerous awards and honors, including the Estela Medrano Memorial Award (2020), the Youdim Family Prize for Excellence in Cancer Research (2016), and the Teva-Israel Science Foundation Founders Prize (2014).