Associate Professor Daphne Weihs ’98, M.S.’00, Ph.D.’04 heads the Leonard and Diane Sherman Center for Research in Biomaterials at the Faculty of Biomedical Engineering. She is affiliated with the Russell Berrie Nanotechnology Institute and the Integrated Cancer Center at the Technion. She is also past President of the Israel Society of Medical and Biological Engineering.
Associate Professor Daphne Weihs is an expert in tumor metastasis. Her research focuses on cell mechanobiology (forceful mechanical interactions of cells with their environment) in health and disease. Her focus is on how cancer cell mechanobiology correlates with their function and specifically their ability to metastasize, or spread to new areas of the body. Metastasis accounts for 90% of cancer-related deaths.
She and her team developed a groundbreaking technology to rapidly predict whether a primary-site tumor is cancerous, and its likelihood of metastasizing. The novel technology involves seeding tumor-sampled cells on a custom synthetic gel that mimics tissue stiffness, and provides quantitative evaluation of their physical interaction with the gel. Invasive cancer cells will push rapidly and forcefully into the gel while normal cells do not. Quantification of the number of indenting cells, their attained depth, and other measures can predict, within two to three hours, the likelihood for metastasis. The Weihs lab technology, published in several peer-reviewed scientific papers, was successfully tested on pancreatic, skin, and breast tumor cell samples.
Prof. Weihs earned all three of her degrees in chemical engineering from the Technion, and conducted postdoctoral research at the Medical School of the University of California, Los Angeles. In 2006, she joined the Faculty of Biomedical Engineering at the Technion. She has earned numerous awards and in 2015 was named one of the 50 most influential women in Israel by the financial newspaper, Globes.