Prof. Marta Weinstock-Rosin is this year’s Israel Prize laureate for medicine, Education Minister Shay Piron announced on Thursday.
A professor emeritus at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s pharmacology department, Weinstock-Rosin has spent years studying drug treatments for degenerative diseases of the central nervous system. Her current focus is searching for drugs that improve brain function and memory in patients with such diseases. She is married to Prof. Arnold Rosin, a former head of the geriatrics department at Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek Medical Center. The couple has four children and 20 grandchildren.
Weinstock-Rosin, 79, was born in Vienna in 1935. In 1939, with the outbreak of World War II, her family fled to England. She was accepted to the University of London’s medical school, but decided to study at its pharmacy school instead. After obtaining her B.Pharm, she did an M.Sc. in pharmacology, and in 1961, she began a Ph.D. in pharmacology at St. Mary’s Hospital Medical School.
At age 28, she became a lecturer in pharmacology at the University of London, where she conducted research with a grant from Britain’s Medical Research Council. She later worked in a hospital allergy clinic, where she researched and published articles on allergy shots.
In 1969, she moved to Israel with her husband and children and joined Tel Aviv University’s medical faculty. She spent 1976-77 on a research sabbatical in America at the National Institutes of Health; that same year, she got a grant from the NIH’s National Institute on Drug Abuse to study how opiates cause respiratory depression. Soon afterward, she moved to Hebrew University, where she became a professor in 1981 and head of the pharmacology department in 1983.
Her research there ranged from how salt raises blood pressure to developing drugs for Alzheimer’s, including rivastigmine (Exelon). Later, she resumed studying immunology, working specifically on treatments for chronic inflammatory diseases like rheumatoid arthritis. She also served on the editorial boards of several scientific journals over the course of her professional life.
Many of her former students now occupy leading positions in academia and the pharmaceutical industry. She herself, despite retiring in 2003, continues to collaborate with colleagues on research, publish articles and lecture at scientific conferences.