Donor Spotlights
Volunteer spotlight – Anja Haman

Vancouver Chapter member, Anja Haman discusses her passion for neuroscience, the progress being made on our understanding of the brain and getting to meet Weizmann scientists

“If you let people follow their curiosity, you’re going to get more creativity.” While Vancouver Chapter member, Anja Haman, was talking about curiosity-driven research at the Weizmann Institute of Science, it was her own curiosity for science that led her relationship with Weizmann Canada. 

Anja has attended several Weizmann events since joining the Weizmann community in 2021, and what stood out immediately was the ability of Weizmann scientists to make their science accessible, especially for people who may not have a background in science. 

Last year, she attended the online event ‘Living and breathing a future with COVID-19,’ where Prof. Gabi Barbash, Director General Emeritus for Israel’s Ministry of Health and Director of Weizmann’s Bench-to-Bedside Program, led a discussion on a future that includes COVID-19. Anja remembers being impressed by both what they knew and what they said they didn’t  yet know, and how their years of studying coronaviruses prepared them for the pandemic.

Anja Haman (left) and Matt Jackson (right) at the Mission Imperative event in Vancouver featuring Prof. Avi Levy (pictured behind).

Last September, Anja attended the Vancouver Mission Imperative event and heard from Weizmann’s Prof. Avi Levy about his research on food security and the new Institute for Environmental Sustainability. Thinking about why these events have been so memorable, Anja says, “Being able to ask scientists questions and hear their honest, easy to understand answers about complicated topics, is really a large part of what Weizmann does so well.” 

With a personal curiosity in neuroscience, Anja was excited to moderate a discussion the chapter hosted last March on the topic of positive neuroscience. Along with guests Prof. Rony Paz, Head of Weizmann’s Department of Neurobiology, and Dr. Sandy Penn Whitehouse, a Vancouver-based physician and Chief Medical Officer at Tickit Health, they explored the relatively new field of positive neuroscience, which focuses on what the brain does well.

Anja (top right) moderating a discussion on positive neuroscience with Dr. Sandy Penn Whitehouse (top left) and Prof. Rony Paz (bottom).

Anja remembers being impressed years ago, at the jump in technology that made it possible to look inside the brain non-intrusively and is excited for what the future holds for meaningful breakthroughs.  

The collaborative and multidisciplinary approach at the Institute is a factor that Anja believes sets Weizmann apart, with scientists having the freedom to collaborate and follow their curiosities. “Bringing together all of these multidisciplinary angles will create huge leaps of knowledge for neuroscience that will have great impact for humanity,” adds Anja. 

More than anything, Anja believes these leading global efforts mean hope for the future. 

“Neuroscience and all the other research work done at Weizmann offers me hope – in the form of a better life for people, animals and the planet,” Anja says. “Neuroscience research in particular gives me hope that mental health and brain diseases that are currently mysterious or poorly understood will be supported with knowledge, treatment or cures in the near future.” 

Learn more about how Weizmann will unlock the mysteries of the brain through the Azrieli Institute for Brain and Neural Sciences or about joining the volunteer leadership with a local chapter near you.  


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