Hefzibah Eyal-Giladi was an internationally esteemed pioneer researcher and founder in the fields of embryology and developmental biology in Israel. She was born in Israel in 1925, and in the 1940’s she performed her undergraduate studies in biology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
She finished her undergraduate studies after the Israel War of Independence in 1948. She then moved to the Netherlands and performed her graduate studies in the laboratory of Professor Pieter Nieuwkoop (Hubrecht laboratory at Utrecht University), one of the most renowned embryologists of the 20th century. Her Ph.D. thesis topic was, “Dynamic Aspects of Neural Induction in Amphibia” (Eyal-Giladi H., 1954). Her thesis was groundbreaking research, examining the earliest aspects of neural patterning in a vertebrate system. Her model of early neural patterning published in 1954 is still the paradigm in the field over sixty years later.
Eyal-Giladi returned to Israel in 1955, receiving an academic appointment in the Department of Zoology, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. In the next few years, she continued her studies in amphibian development, concentrating mainly on the development of the muscular and nervous systems. In the early 1960’s, on her sabbatical research at the University of Minnesota she worked with Nelson Spratt, one of the pioneering scientists in the field of chick development. They explored the potential of investigating early chick development as a model vertebrate system.
Eyal-Giladi continued her studies in the Zoology department in the Hebrew University, concentrating mainly on the early stages of chick development. Her research for the next forty years concentrated mainly on different aspects of the early embryological stages and morphological processes of chick development. Her career long studies would become the cornerstones of research in the field of early chick development.
Hefzibah Eyal-Giladi was an outstanding teacher and lecturer. For five decades, she trained and taught generations of undergraduate and graduate students in Israel, exposing them to the field of embryology and developmental biology in the most exciting and enthusiastic way.
Hefzibah Eyal-Giladi died in Jerusalem (7.1.2017).
Written by Dr. Oded Khaner