When he was a young boy, Yuriy Lipisa’s mother gave him a special gift, which triggered the beginning of his career in science. It was an intriguing chemistry book which eventually led him to his dream of helping people by creating new drugs.
Yuriy, 27, was born and raised in Kharkiv in eastern Ukraine, where the first experiments in nuclear fission in the Soviet Union were conducted. His parents are retired engineers. His scientific career began in 2010 after graduating with honors in Industrial Pharmacy from the National Pharmaceutical University College at a program for junior scientists. He went on to work in pharmaceutical development at the Zdorovye pharmaceutical plant in Kharkiv in processing technological properties for industrial production. From there, he entered the National Technical University, where he earned BSc and MSc degrees, both with honors. During his studies, he was awarded two government scholarships from the Supreme Council of Ukraine and President of Ukraine. He conducted his MSc project on monosquaraine dyes under the guidance of Dr. Anatoly Tatarets at the SSI Institute for Single Crystals at the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine.
Yuriy started his PhD program at Ariel University in Prof. Leonid Patsenker’s Synthetic Organic Chemistry Lab under the supervision of Prof. Alex Szpilman. Yuriy considers synthesizing organic molecules to be a kind of art, as evident from his colorful photo of N-methylbenzotriazole crystals.
In order to create new innovative drugs, novel types of reactions must be discovered. Prof. Szpilman’s group works on several projects, among them in field of umpolung, which involves the inversion of commonly accepted patterns of reactivity. Molecules that cannot be synthesized by a traditional chemical approach due to their densely complex structures can be easily formed by exploiting umpolung.
Not only does the group work together in the lab to create new reactions and publishing their work, but new friendships have also been created. He and his fellow students enjoy traveling together around Israel to captivating sites, such as Masada and Caesarea. He has gone on jeep races in the desert, watched the moon eclipse from Maale-Yair, and observed breathtaking meteorite showers from Mitzpe Ramon. “It is a great opportunity to know this unique country better, with its 9 climate zones!”
Yuriy is an animal lover. Once, his adopted cat had a litter of 6 beautiful kittens in his dorm room. As soon as they were old enough, Yuriy found each of them a good home with families from all around Israel, connecting him with more new friends.
He is teaching himself Hebrew, and finds it quite easy because the letters are easy to pronounce, although he admits it is a bit challenging keeping up his English while speaking Hebrew.
He enjoys attending different conferences in Organic Chemistry, which generate new ideas in mind. He has had the privilege of attending lectures by Nobel Prize laureates who have visited Israel.
When he finishes his PhD in two years’ time, he hopes to continue his post-doc, in Israel or elsewhere. His doctorate degree from AU will be recognized all over the world, which has a great advantage. His main concern now is to finish his research, get good results and publish.
Yuriy follows the words of the late Stephen Hawking:
One, remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Two, never give up work. Work gives you meaning and purpose and life is empty without it. Three, if you are lucky enough to find love, remember it is there and don’t throw it away.