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Anfal Abuhilal


Anfal received her B.A. in Biology from Al-Quds Bard College and her M.Sc. degree in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from Al-Quds University in Palestine. Her research interest revolve around two principal areas:1) understanding the biological basis of cognitive processes involved in learning, 2) investigating the genetic regulation of biological clocks that underlie many activities of living organisms.


Anfal is currently a Ph.D. student in Dr. Orie Shafer’s lab. Her research focus on understanding the genetic and molecular basis of circadian rhythm and its regulation by neurotransmitters. such as serotonin and dopamine in Drosophila. Interestingly, serotonergic nuclei present some of the key inputs to the suprachiasmatic nucleus, the central circadian clock. This could be of key relevance to the development of neuropsychiatric disorders that affect the circadian rhythms such as clinical depression. Her future goal is to investigate the cognitive endophenotypes of circadian-serotonin interaction in psychopathology through integrative human-drosophila studies.


Aside from her Ph.D. work. Anfal leads the neurogenetics team at the Palestinian Neuroscience Initiative (PNI) at Al-Quds University in east of Jerusalem. During her doctoral studies, Anfal’s goal is to apply and transfer her skills and knowledge in her homeland, and train young scientists to build scientific-research infrastructure in Palestine.