Dr. Hebah Fatafta

Dr. Hebah Fatafta

PGSB Returner Fellows
Institute of Biological Information Processing (IBI-7) Forschungszentrum Jülich (FZJ), Birzeit University

Field of research: Biophysics

Area of specialization: Computational biophysics / biochemistry, her work focuses on using the principles of physics and chemistry for the application (and development if needed) of theoretical and computational models that will enhance the understanding of structure, dynamics and function of biomolecular and biological systems.

Research cluster affiliation: Nanoscience research cluster

German affiliation(s): Forschungszentrum Jülich, Institute of Biological Information Processing (IBI-7), Prof. Birgit Strodel

Host Palestinian university: Birzeit University, Physics Department

Research project title(s): Computational modeling of liposome-assisted drug delivery in cancer treatment

Science case and possible benefit: 

Cancer disease is a deadly disease known to be the second leading cause of death worldwide, with over 100 types of cancers affect humans. This raises the challenge that burdens the health care system toward improving cancer medication and treatment. Nanotechnology provides a novel therapeutic approach that uses nanoparticles (NPs) as a promising drug delivery system. Compared to traditional cancer treatments, NPs assure precise targeting, reduced side effect and reduced drug resistance. In this research, I will focus on providing a comprehensive understanding of liposomes as a promising nanocarrier using the power of molecular dynamics simulations. The simulations of this project will be also tightly coupled to experiments via collaborations within the research cluster Nanoscience.

Short summary of main expected outputs/ results:

Implementing the liposomes, as one of the most bioavailable and most realistic NPs models, in the drug delivery process is expected to be a step forward toward ensuring more effective delivery and without producing harmful effects on healthy tissue. The knowledge gained from this research will help to expand our understanding of different aspects needed for the liposomal success in pharmaceutical applications. Furthermore, it will help in developing new therapeutic treatments of cancer.

Expected future impact, including directly in the Palestinian (research) community:

This research project addresses an important biomedical problem of improving drug delivery for cancer treatment. In particular, the knowledge gained will help in developing new therapeutic treatments of cancer, which in turn will help in curing cancer, increasing the survival rate in the patients and reducing the burden of the health care system. In general, this research will open the door for more fruitful collaborations among the computational, experimental and maybe industrial sectors to enhance the approval and clinical application of nanoparticles as drug delivery system. Indeed, I envisage that this research project will provide a platform to inspire further researches and development in the field of nanomedicine. Consequently, expanding the research network and involving young researchers.

Future plans: Through the framework of this project, I'm looking toward providing a research platform that enable connecting the Palestinian research community with the state-of-the-art research facilities available at Forschungszentrum Jülich. My future vision is to establish a computational research cluster in Palestine that facilitate the investment and involvement of young researchers in general, and women in science in particular, which can be part of a research center on the long term.

Future vision for the PGSB/research in Palestine or general:

The PGSB platform supports research in different area of education including science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Moreover, it opens the door for interdisciplinary research sector which is of great importance nowadays, especially with the current Corona pandemics. Consequently, this helps not only in preparing the researchers with the required education, experience and knowledge, but also in building and expanding their research network. On the long-term, this will be a step forward toward developing research leaders, who carry the vision of developing, enhancing the research in Palestine, and of establishing research clusters in a well-suited research environment.

Lectures given/are giving/will give: 

  • Unraveling the effects of lipid binding, neuronal membrane interactions, and molecular crowding on amyloid aggregation. Amyloid Postdoc Day, Forschungszentrum Jülich, Germany, November 25, 2021. 
  • The simulation of amyloid aggregation considering in vivo conditions. Hands-on molecular dynamics workshop, Birzeit University, Palestine, 2019.

Recently attended  conferences: 

  • Amyloid Postdoc Day, Forschungszentrum Jülich, Germany, November 25, 2021 (oral presentation)
  • Düsseldorf-Jülich Symposium on Neurodegenerative Diseases: Aggregates, Autophagy, Prions and Biomarkers. Düsseldorf, Germany, October 4-6, 2021 (poster)
  • Faraday discussion ‘peptide-membrane interactions. United Kingdom, September 9-10, 2021 (poster)
  • Hünfeld workshop “Computer simulation and theory of macromolecule”. Hünfeld, Germany, April 23- 24, 2021 (poster)


  • Khemtemouriana L, Fatafta H, Daviona B, Lecomtea S, Castanoa S, Strodel B. Structural dissection of the first events following membrane binding of the islet amyloid polypeptide. https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/2021.12.14.472560v1
  • Fatafta H, Kav B., Bundschuh B., Loschwitz J., Strodel B. Disorder-to-order transition of the amyloid-β peptide upon lipid binding. Biophys. Chem. 2021 Oct 15. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bpc.2021.106700
  • Fatafta H, Khaled M, Sayyed-Ahmad A, Strodel B. Amyloid-β peptide dimers undergo a random coil to β-sheet transition in the aqueous phase but not at the neuronal membrane. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2021 Sep 28. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.2106210118
  • Fatafta H, Samantray S, Sayyed-Ahmad A, Coskuner-Weber O, Strodel B. Molecular simulations of IDPs: From ensemble generation to IDP interactions leading to disorder-to-order transitions. Progress in Molecular Biology and Translational Science, Academic Press. 2021. https://doi.org/10.1016/bs.pmbts.2021.06.003
  • Fatafta H, Poojari C, Sayyed-Ahmad A, Strodel B, Owen MC. Role of Oxidized Gly25, Gly29, and Gly33 Residues on the Interactions of Aβ1-42 with Lipid Membranes. ACS Chem Neurosci. 2020 Feb 19. https://pubs.acs.org/doi/10.1021/acschemneuro.9b00558


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