Discussing malaria over falafel: Jeremy Schreier


Jeremy Schreier at the Kuvin Center malaria labJeremy Schreier, 19, is an undergraduate in history and biology at Stanford University. He spent the summer of 2011 working in the malaria laboratory at the Hebrew University’s Sanford F. Kuvin Center for the Study of Infectious and Tropical Diseases at the Institute for Medical Research Israel-Canada (IMRIC) in the Faculty of Medicine. As the grandson of Sanford Kuvin, he represents the third generation of the Kuvin family that has forged the strongest of links with the Hebrew University.

Q: What are you currently studying and why did you decide to make this your focus?

A: I am currently studying history and biology at Stanford University. I love studying history because it allows us to understand our world in a pragmatic, contextualized setting. I am interested in how people, cultures and nations interact. I believe that studying history is a great way to learn about and comprehend such interactions. I also enjoy biology, as it is the science of life. Studying biology allows us to look at life, from the most microscopic perspective of cells and even individual atoms, to looking at life on a grander scale. Biology is great because scientists are always building their research on top of old and new experiments. The data and insights gained from biological research are timeless, as more research is performed over time, our perceptions of the world change.

Q: Why did you decide to study at Hebrew University?

A: I have been a fairly frequent visitor to Israel with my parents and grandparents. During the summer before my freshman year of college, I visited Jerusalem in honor of my grandparents’ 50th wedding anniversary. We toured the Kuvin Center for the Study of Infectious and Tropical Diseases at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. The Center impressed me with its great atmosphere and dedicated scientists, and I was fascinated by the research being performed in malaria, schistosomiasis (a parasitic disease), ancient DNA, and leishmaniasis (a disease spread by the bite of the female sandfly). Also, I knew that learning and working in Jerusalem would be a great experience. I expressed my interest in working at the Center with Dr. Ron Dzikowski, who heads the malaria laboratory, and he offered me the opportunity to spend a summer under his guidance in the lab.

Q: Can you tell us about your experience?

A: I had an incredible experience — to say the least — at the Hebrew University and, more broadly, in Israel. Dr. Dzikowski and his lab took me in like family from my first day. I learned many advanced molecular biology lab techniques, and mastered the project we were working on. By the end of the summer, I was working independently in the lab. Hopefully, our lab’s research project will be published in the coming months.

Q: What stands out to you as you look back on your time spent at the Hebrew University?

Of course, doing research stands out as a major part of my time at the University. I learned and grew tremendously as a student and as a scientist in my time at the Kuvin Center. However, the most memorable part of my summer was the relationships I formed with fellow students and researchers at the Center. The Center has a real family-like feel to it. People really care about each other, and I felt at home from the first day, even as a visiting student.

Q: What was it like to study at the Hebrew University?

A: Working and learning at Hebrew University was a great, unique experience. The campus facilities are world-class, and there is a strong feeling of camaraderie and intellectual vivacity among the students and faculty. I also enjoyed spending my summer at a university that values collaboration in the sciences, medicine — and, more broadly, academia — between Jews and Arabs. At the Kuvin Center, I had the privilege to work alongside Israeli, Israeli-Arab, Palestinian and Jordanian scientists. I believe that such cooperation in scientific research between such diverse groups of people will only help bring peace in Israel.

Q: What was it like to live in Jerusalem, in Israel?

A: Living in Jerusalem, and more generally, in Israel, was sensational. Just as I found a great sense of community in the laboratory, I felt a family-like feeling with people wherever I traveled in Jerusalem and Israel. Whether in the shuk [fresh produce market], hiking, on a trail in the Golan, traveling on the bus or spending time with my family and friends, I felt connected to the people around me. I feel so fortunate that as a Jew, I can travel across the world to Israel and feel at home.

Q: What are your goals for the future?

In the near future, I hope to get the most out of my time as an undergraduate student at Stanford, continue with my love for music by playing jazz piano and clarinet, and eventually attend medical school. My links with the Hebrew University and Israel will certainly continue.

Q: What would you like to tell yourself not to forget about your time spent in Israel?

A: I hope to never forget the great daily experiences I had this past summer in Israel. From discussing malaria over falafel with fellow students and researchers, spending hours cloning plasmids in the laboratory, to wandering the streets of the Old City or exploring the Golan, these everyday experiences will be etched in my memory forever.

Q: Do you have any plans to come back to Israel and/or the Hebrew University during your academic career?

A: Yes, I hope to continue coming back to Israel during my academic career. I may return to the Kuvin Center next summer to further pursue malaria research. Nevertheless, I know that my connection to Israel will forever remain strong, and I hope to continue contributing to Israeli society, whether it is through science, academia, business or Judaism.

Q: What would you tell other students about studying at the Hebrew University?

A: I would tell them that the Hebrew University is a world-class academic institution in the most incredible setting — Israel.

November 2011

Update: In December 2012, the findings of the study in which Jeremy Schreier participated while at the Kuvin Center’s malaria lab in 2011 were published in an article in the prestigious Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS); he co-authored the article with Inbar Avraham and Dr. Ron Dzikowski. For more about the article, click here