Dr. Inbal Rachmin, An Early Loss Inspires a Remedy for Heart Disease

As one of six children, Dr. Inbal Rachmin was still required to keep her textbooks in good shape so that her mother could donate them to charity afterwards. Her parents supported the family with only high school educations, but Rachmin’s mother always upheld the same world view as ISEF founder, Nina Weiner— one in which community service is mandatory.

At 16, Rachmin lost her mother to breast cancer, an experience that inspired her decision to pursue medical studies. Today, with support from ISEF for her post-doctoral research, Rachmin heads a laboratory at Harvard University specializing in cardiac research. She focuses specifically on potential treatments for ischemic heart disease, which is characterized by reduced blood supply to the heart muscle, and which is the primary cause of heart disease throughout the world.

Rachmin previously completed her doctoral research at the Hebrew University under the supervision of Prof. Ehud Razin and Dr. Sagi
Tshori, where she discovered a protein called Erbin which acts to stop the pathological growth of the heart muscle. Patients suffering from
heart failure are often lacking the Erbin protein, and Rachmin and her colleagues demonstrated that damage to this protein leads to excessive growth of the heart muscle, and a decrease in its function.

This groundbreaking research had profound implications for breast cancer research. Over 30% of breast cancers are treated with the Herceptin drug, which carries a serious risk of causing heart abnormalities. Rachmin’s discovery that Erbin has the ability to combat heart disease in Herceptin treated breast cancer survivors has garnered international acclaim.

In 2015, Inbal received the Kellerman Young Investigator Award for Excellence in Research from The Israel Heart Society. Her other honors include the Henry N. Neufeld Award for Most Notable Publication from The Israel Heart Society (2014), and the Presidential Excellence Award from Hadassah College, to name just a few.

Despite her multitude of achievements, Rachmin donates her time as a professionally trained medical clown in local hospitals and it was this commitment that caught the eye of Weiner—and for that Rachmin is grateful both to Weiner and to the legacy of her mother.

“My family isn’t able to offer us any financial support, so it is because of the ISEF fellowship that my husband and I are able to make it here,” she said.