Gali Fichman is a faculty member in the Institute of Biochemistry, Food Science and Nutrition in the Robert H. Smith Faculty of Agriculture, Food and Environment at the Hebrew University. Dr. Fichman earned her Ph.D. at Tel Aviv University, where she designed and characterized bioinspired peptide motifs that self-assemble into functional nanostructures. Dr. Fichman’s postdoctoral studies at the Chemical Biology Laboratory at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) centered on peptide-based materials for biomedical applications, focusing on applied and basic research using self-assembling systems. Her main project involved clinical-oriented material development, where she developed a new class of bioinspired peptide-based antibacterial gel coatings to prevent implant-related infections. For this work, she received the NIH Fellows Award for Research Excellence.
Inspired by well-ordered structures in nature and aiming to design advanced biomaterials that benefit society, Dr. Fichman continues her interest in peptides, which can be affordable, edible, biocompatible, biodegradable, and give researchers precise control at the molecular level. Specifically, the research in the Fichman lab, which is at the interface of chemical biology, bionanotechnology, and materials science, focuses on developing and exploring functional gels for food and healthcare applications. Dr. Fichman’s goal is to design innovative food gels and study how to control the gel’s texture by modifying its composition and structure to improve nutrition by reducing fat or sugar, for example, without affecting sensory perception. Also, she aims to improve the mechanical properties of gels for applications such as edible packaging and cultured and plant-based meat. Another area of research is the encapsulation and targeted delivery of nutrients. Food gels could protect the substance from degradation and enhance its absorption by allowing targeted delivery at a desired site along the gastrointestinal tract.
Additionally, Dr. Fichman studies bacteria-materials interactions. She exploits material properties that promote bacterial growth to improve the encapsulation and delivery of probiotics. She also uses material properties that contribute to bacterial killing to develop advanced antibacterial materials for food industry and biomedical applications.
During her studies abroad, Dr. Fichman was filled with national pride as a representative of Israeli innovation and research and a graduate of Israel’s advanced science programs. Her research holds great potential to open new horizons for food technology and medical nutrition and could provide essential insights for biomedical applications such as tissue engineering and drug delivery.