Yeshiva University News » Grants

Dr. Margarita Vigodner was awarded a $300,000 grant for her research on the effects of second-hand smoke on male infertility.

Jun 26, 2008 — Yeshiva College and Stern College for Women professors will tackle male infertility, breast cancer, and supercritical fluids as recipients of three substantial science grants totaling close to half a million dollars.

Dr. Margarita Vigodner, assistant professor of biology at Stern College, was awarded a $300,000 Young Clinical Scientist Award by the Flight Attendant Medical Research Institute (FAMRI) for her research on the effects of second-hand smoke on male infertility.

Using laboratory mice as human surrogates and advanced cell analysis, Vigodner and two undergraduate students in the S. Daniel Abraham Honors Program at Stern will assess the changes in the animals’ testicular genes following their exposure to second-hand smoke. Her research is based on ten years of experience in the field of spermatogenesis (the development of sperm), male fertility, and reproduction health.

Male partners are responsible for infertility in at least half of all human couples, and for 39 percent of infertile men, their infertility is of an unknown cause or origin. Vigodner is working hard to identify its roots, and believes that “the problem of male infertility will be overcome in the foreseen future,” she said.

Dr. Marina Holz, assistant professor of biology at Stern, will study the role of the S6 Kinase 1 (S6K1) gene in breast cancer through a three-year, $75,000 grant from the Elias Genevieve and Georgianna Atol Charitable Trust.

After spending several years researching the molecular mechanisms of S6K1, Holz observed that the gene was over-expressed in cancers, especially breast cancer.

“I would like to identify specific targets of S6K1 in breast cancer that control cell proliferation and contribute to the cancerous phenotype,” said Holz. “The funds from this grant will help support acquisition of new equipment and reagents [chemical compounds] for the project.”

She will be working with Stern graduates Rachel Yamnik ’08S and Nilly Brodt ’08S, and current students Alla Digilova and Daphne Davis.

The American Chemical Society Petroleum Research Fund has awarded Dr. Bruce Hrnjez, associate professor of chemistry at Yeshiva College, $65,000 for his research on solvent effects in supercritical fluids. Yeshiva College will match $55,000 of that funding, for a total of $120,000 over three years.

Hrnjez’s work focuses on a molecule’s surroundings; the medium in which a molecule is dissolved can have an effect on the way the molecule vibrates, rotates, and interacts with light, and the way its chemical bonds break or form in a chemical reaction.

“Molecules are somewhat like people,” explained Hrnjez. “Environment affects behavior.”

Hrnjez, who has spearheaded the rebirth of experimental scientific research at Yeshiva College , created an experimental research laboratory in Belfer Hall on the Wilf Campus. His first paper to come out of this research appeared in 2005 in the Journal of Physical Chemistry, with student coauthors Samuel Sultan ’05Y, Georgiy Natanov ’07Y, David Kastner ’05Y, and Michael Rosman ’05Y.

For Hrnjez, the grant means more than just financial support for an important investigation. “It is external recognition from my peers that I have created a viable research program at Yeshiva College,” explained Hrnjez. “It is also external recognition of strong support from the Yeshiva administration.”


Nov 5, 2004 — Yeshiva University Museum (YUM) has been awarded two major grants that will fund an upcoming exhibit, “A Perfect Fit: The Garment Industry and American Jewry.”

“A Perfect Fit,” which will debut in 2005, explores the factors that built the American garment industry and how the participation of successive waves of Jewish immigration shaped the industry’s growth between 1860 and 1960.

The museum received a “Museums for America” grant of $150,000 from the Institute of Museums and Library Services, a federal agency. The grant will allow YUM to mount public programs and attract new and larger audiences to the exhibit.

In addition, The Coby Foundation, a private institution focused on textile arts and history, awarded YUM a $100,000 grant to support “A Perfect Fit.”

These two gifts add to the initial $300,000 grant the Museum received in 2003 from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

The exhibit includes costumes, accessories, industrial equipment, photographs, artworks, archival materials, and audiovisual installations throughout the museum’s galleries illustrating the impact of the garment industry on American culture and its role in the formation of American Jewish society. American fashions from the past century will be on display.

Yeshiva University Museum is located at 15 West 16th Street, between Fifth and Sixth Avenues, in the Center for Jewish History. For more information about “A Perfect Fit,” please contact 212-294-8330 or


Feb 10, 2004 — The Ronald and Ethel Gruen Endowed Fund for the Advancement of Secondary Jewish Education at RIETS has just awarded its second round of annual grants to high schools of the Association of Modern Orthodox Day Schools and Yeshiva High Schools (AMODS). Fourteen schools applied to the Fund and five grants of $8,500 each were awarded to the Columbus Torah Academy (Columbus, OH), the Community Hebrew Academy of Toronto (Toronto, Canada), the Ida Crown Jewish Academy (Chicago, IL), the Margolin Hebrew Academy/Feinstone Yeshiva of the South (Memphis, TN), and the Robert M. Beren Academy (Houston, TX). The Association is part of the Max Stern Division of Communal Services of RIETS.

The grants are awarded only to AMODS high schools for the purpose of need-based scholarships and/or mechinah programs that provide instruction for students who require upgrading in Judaica subjects. To provide an opportunity for as many qualified high schools as possible to receive this aid, no school can receive grants in consecutive years.

Mr. and Mrs. Gruen hope that their efforts will help educate the future leaders of the North American Jewish Community. They believe that if we “lose” students at the Jewish secondary day school level, it is likely these students will never experience higher Jewish education. Mr. Gruen believes that his family’s greatest satisfaction from this innovative program will be derived from others emulating the concept of the Gruen Fund. The Gruens plan to increase their gifts to their fund, which will permit more schools to receive even larger grants in the future.

The next round of Gruen Grant applications will be announced at the end of this summer.

For further information, please contact Dr. Jeremiah Unterman, Director of AMODS, at 212-960-5260 or by email at