“I’m Hadassah and Hadassah is me.” So says Dr. Alex Gileles-Hillel, senior pediatric pulmonologist, who took up his medical studies at the Hebrew University Hadassah Medical School in 2004 and has never left. Today, his research and clinical activities span a wide range of interests, from asthma and cystic fibrosis to organoids and sleep disorders, as described in a June interview with Dianne Gottlieb, HWZOA’s Hadassah Medical Organization chair.
Especially striking is that he made the time earlier this year to join one of Hadassah Medical Organization’s weeklong humanitarian medical missions to Poland, close to where he was born near Minsk in Russia. There, along with other Hadassah medical personnel, he treated some of the thousands of Ukrainian refugees who fled the violence and sought sanctuary in Poland. “Helping people at the worst moments of their lives” is how he described his experience there.
One little girl he saw at the clinic was suffering from cystic fibrosis, a rare progressive, genetic disease that causes persistent lung infections and affects breathing and a disease with which he is very familiar. The girl’s mother was overjoyed to have happened upon not only a specialist in the disease but also a native Russian speaker to whom she could confide her concern and anxiety about her daughter. After treating the little girl, Dr. Gileles-Hillel sent her and her mother on their way to a more permanent placement.
Intrigued by the promise of taking research from bench to bedside, Dr. Gileles-Hillel is working in the new Organoid Center at the Wohl Institute of Translational Medicine at Hadassah Ein Kerem. At the center, researchers are using patient cells to grow three-dimensional mini-organs that resemble in many ways the organs of the patient. Doctors can then try various therapies on these organoids to see what drugs or other therapies are best for that particular patient—personalized medicine in its finest expression. Hadassah is one of the very few places in the world conducting such research.
Calling sleep “a pillar of health,” Dr. Gileles Hillel is also conducting research on breathing problems during sleep and how people can avoid problems by getting enough sleep. For tips on how to fall asleep more successfully and to listen to the interview, watch below.