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Medicine/Health
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Tiny fish swims to Israel to help unlock mystery of aging

The search for the proverbial fountain of youth is moving underwater. Experimental biologist Itamar Harel, returning to Israel this spring from a post-doc at Stanford University School of Medicine, will establish an aging research lab focused on the tiny East African turquoise killifish, the shortest-lived vertebrate that can be cultivated in the laboratory easily.Gleaning insights into human aging from a fish that lives an average of four to six months sounds counterintuitive. But the East African turquoise killifish has an aging progression remarkably similar to ours, making it perfect for studying human aging in a rapid timeframe.“In the past 25 years, experiments in short-lived yeast, worms and flies have revolutionized the way we perceive aging – revealing that the aging rate itself can be manipulated by genetic and environmental interventions,” Harel says.“However, the lack of short-lived vertebrate models for genetic studies has significantly limited our understanding of vertebrate aging, including the role of vertebrate-specific genes, organs and physiological processes.” At Stanford’s Brunet Lab, Harel used a new genome-editing technique called CRISPR to develop a tool for examining aging and disease in killifish. Harel’s own lab, to open in March 2018 at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Institute of Life Sciences, will take this research to the next level.“The key aspect I’m trying to accomplish is to see if we can slow down some of the age-associated diseases we have and extend good health, even if we live the same amount of years,” Harel tells ISRAEL21c.“I envision using killifish as a platform for testing the role of specific drugs and their effect on age-associated pathologies such as cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases,” he says.“Manipulating the aging rate itself might allow us to postpone the onset of these devastating diseases, which will have a tremendous impact on human health.”The 37-year-old scientist got his undergraduate degree at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in 2005 and his PhD in developmental biology at the Weizmann Institute of Science in 2012.When he arrived at Stanford in 2013, he was fascinated to learn about the killifish, which has been bred in captivity since 1968 but had never been genetically engineered.The tool he developed using CRISPR enabled him to study the effects of early interventions on elderly killifish.“I was able to do it almost twice as fast as in parallel genetic models like mice, which have a lifespan of two to three years,” he says. In his Jerusalem lab, he will study aspects of aging unique to vertebrates.“The majority of aging research has been done on invertebrates, in which it is challenging to study things like bone degeneration, declining immune function, declining ability to benefit from vaccinations, and increasing susceptibility to cancer and infections,” says Harel.“I think my uniqueness will be to study specific niches that are exceptionally challenging or impossible to study using current models.”To start, Harel will investigate dyskeratosis congenita syndrome, which causes bone-marrow failure.“The killifish model shows rapid onset of this disease and I want to see if we can develop interventions to slow down some of these phenotypes, screen for drugs and do genetic interventions."People have studied this syndrome in mice but you have to breed them for three to four generations before the phenotypes develop.In killifish, the phenotype happens in the first generation, and as fast as only two months.” In the long term, Harel hopes the little fish will reveal why aging is the primary risk factor for every disease type. “We know different organisms live vastly different lifespans.Killifish live six months, while koi fish live up to 200 years,” he says.“Nature has fabulously played with this trait of the aging rate. If we understand the basics behind the differences we could potentially manipulate them ourselves and see what aspects make the body more susceptible or more resilient.” He isn’t trying to make killifish live as long as koi fish.“But we could tailor specific interventions to boost our ability to cope with Alzheimer’s or other degenerative diseases,” says Harel, whose family history does not include any centenarians that he knows of. Harel notes that aging research is advanced in Israel, with multiple aging-related research labs doing groundbreaking work.The Israeli Ministry of Science and Technology recently issued a call for “technologies and innovation for older persons,” including biomedical research on aging.In October, Israeli longevity expert Dr. Nir Barzilai from Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York gave a keynote address, “How to die young at a very old age,” at the Pathways to Healthy Longevity conference at Bar-Ilan University sponsored in part by the Israeli Longevity Alliance.Harel was on the judging panel that awarded prizes to graduate students studying the biology of aging, healthy longevity and quality of life.“Doing research in Israel comes with a sense of community and ease of developing new collaborations,” says Harel. “For me it was clear that I wanted to go back.”Read the source article at ISRAEL21c
Humanities
NEWS

Archaeologists uncover bittersweet end of 1,800-year-old...

Why would Crusaders decorate a staircase with the carving of a menorah? This archaeological mystery — almost two millennia in the making — was recently solved, seven years after the Jewish symbol was discovered in a Hebrew University excavation of ancient Tiberias. The massive menorah, originally carved on a basalt tomb door, is tangible evidence of the city’s dramatic historical periods in the past centuries, under the world’s three major monotheistic religions.
Menorah carved into the door of a Jewish tomb, circa 150-350 CE found in Tiberias. (Tal Rogoveski)
The 68×78-centimeter (27×31 inch) seven-stemmed menorah was uncovered in a dig led by the Hebrew University’s Dr. Katya Tzitrin Silverman, which has been ongoing since 2009. The door the menorah decorated was typical of a Jewish tomb from circa 150-350 CE, said Silverman in conversation with The Times of Israel on Monday. After the fall of the Second Temple in 70 CE and the expulsion of Jews from Jerusalem, Tiberias was a center for Jewish life. It is thought that the Sanhedrin, the court of Jewish law and scholarship, sat in Tiberias from circa 190 CE. Following Muslim conquest in 635 CE, the city became a seat for the early caliphate. It was during this period, archaeologist Silverman said, that the menorah door was reused as the base of a mosque, which was built on an earlier mosque, said Silverman. Because the door was not found in situ, researchers cannot exactly pinpoint its provenance. However, said Silverman, it is clear that the use of this door by the Muslims in building a mosque was highly intentional. The mosque, she said, also contained reused pagan and Christian pillars, which were put on display as corner pieces. These materials taken for intentional secondary use are called “spoila,” said Silverman. They are trophies, a way of clearly stating, “We’re building our structure on the backs of those who came before us,” she said. “There is an expression of victory and inheritance” in their use, she said. Interestingly, said Silverman, during the team’s excavations, it was discovered that there was a church located next to the mosque which used the spoila. According to an inscription found at the church’s nave, it was still in use until at least the 10th century. “There was only a street between them,” she said, adding that although they’ve found remains of what appears to be a pagan temple, the team has not yet found a synagogue on the site of the ancient religious hub. “It’s strange to think that in Israel we have one of the most important excavations for early Muslim mosque architecture,” said Silverman.
Where the menorah was discovered.
The mosque that was built was upon the menorah was destroyed in an earthquake in 1068. Subsequently, its building materials were reused by the Crusaders and so our menorah became the decoration for a staircase in a room in a sugar factory. Calling it Israel’s “first industrial revolution,” Silverman said that after the crop was introduced under Muslim rule, by the Crusader period, the whole area of the Jordan and Ginosar Valleys was cultivated for sugar production. The heart of residential Tiberias had by this period moved north and the sugar production was done on the outskirts of the city. Silverman said that the menorah’s meaning as a Jewish symbol is not likely to have been understood during the Crusader period. Its use as a step in a secular sugar factory was, if anything, “pragmatic” — a bittersweet end to the menorah, which started its life on a Jewish tomb.
Read the source article at The Times of Israel
Humanities
NEWS

Honorary Doctorate Ceremony for His All Holiness

On December 6, 2017, His All Holiness Bartholomew I, Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople received an Honorary Doctorate from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.The event was attended by a wide array of religious leaders, ambassadors, and dignitaries. The presentation of the honorary degree was followed by an address from His All Holiness:His All Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople, popularly known as the "Green Patriarch,” was appointed as the primary spiritual leader of the world's approximately 300 million  Orthodox Christians on November 2, 1991. Since then he has pursued a constant vision of spiritual revival; of Orthodox unity and Christian reconciliation; interfaith understanding and coexistence; and environmental awareness and protection — making every effort to mobilize the world's moral and spiritual forces for the sake of harmony among all human beings and between humankind and nature.Under his auspices, the Ecumenical Patriarchate has advanced interreligious dialogue with the Muslim world and with the worldwide Jewish community. He has also initiated and co-sponsored international peace conferences and symposia dealing with issues such as racism and fundamentalism and  has endeavored to generate cooperation and increase mutual tolerance and respect among Catholic, Muslim, Jewish and Orthodox Christian communities, particularly in the Middle East and the Mediterranean.No less important, the "Green Patriarch" Bartholomew I is a distinguished environmentalist, avidly involved in urgent ecological issues such as the pollution of the world's waterways. His reputation for raising global environmental awareness has earned him the Sophie Prize, the U.S. Congressional Gold Medal, and numerous other awards. His efforts to promote religious freedom and human rights, his initiatives to advance religious tolerance among the world's religions, together with his work toward international conflict resolution and environmental protection, have justly placed the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I at the forefront of global visionaries, peacemakers, and bridge-builders.Click here to enjoy photos from the event. 
Humanities
NEWS

James Patterson and Einstein archivists creating new series

Already co-writing a political thriller with former President Bill Clinton, James Patterson is now set for a collaboration with the managers of Albert Einstein’s archives.The best-selling and prolific novelist is developing a series for middle schoolers inspired by Einstein’s scientific discoveries. In a licensing deal with the Einstein archive, Little Brown will publish the first of three planned books, currently untitled, next fall. The release will come through the author’s own JIMMY Patterson children’s imprint.“I love the idea of introducing Einstein and the ideas of science to millions of kids around the world,” says Patterson, sounding childlike himself as he speaks of “taking this so freaking seriously.”Patterson, admittedly still learning when it comes to science, has worked in an innovation of his own. The series’ young protagonist, Max Einstein, is a girl.“Women are definitely underrated in science and I wanted to address that,” he told The Associated Press during a recent telephone interview. Little, Brown describes Max as “inventive, irreverent, highly imaginative,” one who “loves to solve problems in fun, unconventional ways, much like Einstein himself.”“The high-stakes adventure series follows Max and the world’s brightest kids as they travel the globe to solve humanity’s biggest problems with the power of science,” the publisher announced.Financial terms for the books were not disclosed. According to Little Brown, Einstein archivists will assist Patterson with research and also have input in the manuscripts and artwork. Proceeds will be divided among the archive, the publisher and Patterson.Einstein has inspired fiction before, such as Alan Lightman’s critically praised “Einstein’s Dreams.” He also was the subject of a best-selling biography by Walter Isaacson and of numerous biographies for children.Officials for the Einstein archives, which are based at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, cite Patterson’s enormous popularity and see the new series as an ideal way to expand Einstein’s appeal among young people. Dr. Roni Grosz, curator of the archives, praised Patterson’s ability to keep readers interested.“You don’t want readers just putting the books down because they’re not interesting enough,” he told the AP. “There’s tremendous interest in Einstein, but it’s not easy to convey his lessons and his knowledge. These books are one way to package this rather complex information and present it to young readers.”Read the source article at Washington Post
Medicine/Health
NEWS

Why teamwork is better than attempting lone heroism in...

MASSIVE_logoThe best way for scientists — or anybody, really — to address shortcomings after experiencing failure is teamwork. And never has that been more clearly apparent than in the story of Doxil, the first nanomedicine, which failed multiple times before a resourceful team cracked the code.
Nanomedicine is the application of nanoscale technologies (think about it as really, really tiny pieces of matter — 10,000 times smaller than a strand of hair or 100 times smaller than a red blood cell) for the prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and study of disease and human health. It’s pretty successful at getting funded as well — privately held nanomedicine companies (such as Nanobiotix) are getting a lot of money — in the tens of millions of dollars — from pharmaceutical giants such as Pfizer and Merck.
But nanomedicine wasn’t always such a buzzworthy topic — it really hit the scene in the 1990s when an anti-cancer drug called Doxil became the first FDA-approved nanomedicine-based therapy thanks to a multinational team headed by biochemist Yechezkel Barenholz at Hebrew University in Jerusalem.
Decades in the making
Barenholz believed as far back as the late 1970s that chemotherapy could be improved by placing anti-cancer drugs in nanoscaled carriers made of lipids — the stuff that forms the membranes of all the cells in our body. Placing the free-floating drug molecules into carriers takes advantage of the enhanced permeability and retention (EPR) effect, in which nanosized particles in the blood stream should enter and accumulate in solid tumors more easily than in healthy tissue.
 Placing drugs in nanocarriers would cause fewer side effects and require smaller doses.
One of the characteristics of tumors is their rapid growth, causing blood vessels to grow abnormally, which results in tiny gaps in the vessel walls that nanoparticles can pass through easily. Another consequence of rapid growth is the suppression of “lymphatic drainage,” meaning that the lymph fluid in tumors can’t clear out waste products and nanoparticles as effectively as in healthy tissues, causing more accumulation in tumors than in the rest of the body. Ideally, placing the drugs in nanocarriers would cause fewer side effects and require smaller doses as a result.
Barenholz began to develop early prototypes of such a drug in 1979 with oncologist Alberto Gabizon. But in 1987, that trial drug, called OLV-DOX, failed its clinical trial. The carriers were too large; they didn’t have enough of the drug inside of them to be effective, and they were readily destroyed by the body’s immune system.
In the interim, though, Barenholz started a parallel project as part of a team. In 1984, after chatting with an old colleague from UC–San Francisco, Dimitri Papahadjopoulos, Barenholz was convinced to take a sabbatical at Papahadjopoulos’s startup, Liposome Technology Inc. (LTI) in California, on the condition that LTI would support the ongoing Doxil research at Hebrew University at the same time.
Second time’s the charm
In the 1990s, Barenholz and his team at LTI worked together on what they called “stealth liposomes.” An outer layer of a polymer called polyethylene glycol (commonly called PEG) was added to the lipid carrier to extend the circulation time of the liposomes. This polymer is very hydrophilic — it interacts well with water, so that the closely packed water molecules at the surface of the liposome will prevent the liposomes from interacting with any proteins or cells in the blood stream, allowing them to reach their intended target.
At the same time, Barenholz was working in his lab in Israel to figure out a way to make the nanocarriers smaller while still being able to put enough of the drug inside to make the treatment effective. These teams patented these new technologies by 1989, and the new and improved OLV-DOX, now called Doxil, began clinical trials in Jerusalem in 1991.
Barenholz leaves us with a lesson anyone can learn from.
The rest is history. FDA approved in 1995, the team was excited to have brought the first nanomedicine to market. Even though another research and development company approached Barenholz with a large sum of money and royalties for the rights to the early Doxil prototypes, he stuck with LTI, believing that he would have more control and success with the team there. (LTI is part of Johnson & Johnson today.)
In some of the last words of his reflective and personal review, Barenholz wrote that he wants to transfer his experience with Doxil development and eventual approval to researchers worldwide. He leaves us with an overarching lesson that anyone can learn from: collaboration is an essential part of successful science and is undervalued most of the time in the pursuit of great personal discoveries.
Read the source article at salon.com
Science/Technology
NEWS

Israeli serial startup stars of blockchain tech return with...

Leveraging some “mind boggling math” introduced as an update onto the Ethereum blockchain only a few months ago, QEDit is launching its product on our Battlefield stage at TechCrunch Disrupt Berlin.

The company, which takes its name from the Latin phrase quod erat demonstrandum (which was what would have been demonstrated) relies on the principle of zero knowledge proofs to provide audit and due diligence services for financial institutions.One of the problems that’s been slowing down blockchain adoption in businesses is how to share information based on proprietary data. Companies don’t want to share a lot of information with competitors, but need to have ways to ensure that the information they’re receiving is correct.The QEDit service allows that on the blockchain. Creating ways for multi-party transactions to engage in queries that prove certain facts about a business, without ever accessing the data underlying those proofs.This differs from a “regular” blockchain where every transaction is sent to all the nodes on the network and all of those nodes record the rules and value of the transaction on a public ledger. With QEDit, only the user runs the rules on their own data. The only thing that anyone else on the chain sees are the proofs.One of the company’s co-founders is Aviv Zohar, a researcher at Hebrew University whose work was cited by none other than Ethereum project developer VItalik Butarin in his early writing about cryptocurrency. Zohar has been working in cryptography for years and his work is critical to the very “mind boggling math” that makes zero knowledge proofs possible.Helping him round out the team at QEDit are Jonathan Rouach and Ruben Arnold, two serial entrepreneurs who first met in 1999 while studying at Technion University in Israel.“We saw that there were two conflicting trends. More and more data is accumulated in the enterprise world and companies are trying to keep it for themselves and monetize it and companies are trying to keep it for themselves but there are instances… on the one hand you want to keep the data for yourself and on the other hand you want to share the data with other parties,” says Rouach of the idea behind QEDit. “This is what we built. It’s the possibility of sharing proofs about the data without sharing the data itself.”While Arnold pursued a career in consulting in Paris at McKinsey & Co., Rouach stayed in Israel working in electrical engineering. But around 2012 he became interested in a novel idea percolating out from the edges of the internet called bitcoin (it was a post on Slashdot, Rouach says).In 2013, he co-founded Bits of Gold with his brother Yuval Rouach and Arnold as one of the first bitcoin exchanges to launch in Israel.“It was the technology,” that first attracted Rouach to the Bitcoin bomb that was exploding on the Internet. “It’s a beautiful solution to a problem that I didn’t even think of… How can you create trust between people without central coordination?”Rouach’s fascination with that concept of anonymous trust is a thread that runs through his future endeavors as well — businesses that all attempt to refine that notion of anonymous, verified trust.“Every fact on the blockchain is mathematically verified,” says Rouach. “That is enough to know what is the state of the whole world.”
While bitcoin may have been Rouach’s gateway drug into the wild world of cryptobusiness, he quickly came to the conclusion that it wasn’t the technology to actually fulfill the promise of expanding on that notion of anonymous trust and verification.That’s because the security issues around bitcoin had yet to be resolved. So Rouach launched a second company called LedgerLock, which provided security services for a range of digital assets.Once LedgerLock was sold to Digital Assets Holdings, during the split between the application of blockchain technology to business problems which ignored the push to tokenization, and a more public-facing movement that was predicated on token sales.So QEDit is the next step on the road to a fully cryptographic, nearly automated transaction system. The idea is to replace the army of auditors that are involved in providing due diligence and oversight for negotiations and transactions that involve proprietary information.Surprisingly (or maybe unsurprisingly), audit firms, financial services companies, and large telecoms themselves are on board for the experiment. QEDit has partnerships with Deloitte, BNP Paribas and British Telecom for its first product called QEDit Enhanced Diligence.Unlike the rash of companies based on blockchain that have gone the coin sale route, Rouach tells me that his firm has no intention of launching an ICO. “We’re completely on the enterprise blockchain side and what we want to do is ensure that companies can build trust between them without having to reveal their private data.”The company sells the service on a per use basis and as part of the beta launch here at Disrupt the QEDit is offering two free years of service to customers that sign up for its beta.Rouach says there’s a big market for this kind of work, with roughly $6 billion floating out there in the rating market alone.It’s hard to understate how radical the change this technology could bring to financial services actually could be.“You never had a peer-to-peer way of an investor or an acquirer or an auditor knocking on the door of the company and say prove me this, and to know what they’re giving back is accurate,” says Rouach.Read the source article at TechCrunch
Medicine/Health
NEWS

At Stanford, Israeli brain scientist thinks thoughts about...

Ask Adi Mizrahi if he loves his work and his answer is a no-brainer.“I’m absolutely convinced I have the best job in the world,” said Mizrahi, a neurobiologist, award-winning scientist and the director of the Hebrew University’s Edmond and Lily Safra Center for Brain Sciences.Mizrahi, 47, now on sabbatical at Stanford University, is taking a year to talk to other scientists and learn about cutting-edge research techniques he can bring back to Israel. It’s part of his philosophy of interdisciplinary science, which he believes is crucial for understanding the brain.“I think it is a multidisciplinary problem,” he said. “You cannot neglect one side and expect to solve the problem.”It’s an approach he uses at the Center for Brain Sciences, which brings together physicists, neurobiologists, psychologists, computer scientists and engineers to collaborate on research. The cross-discipline point of view is essential because the brain is just too complicated to be understood by one approach. “If you only look at behavior, you’ll never know what the cells are doing,” Mizrahi said.Mizrahi, the author or co-author of more than 25 papers, with titles such as “Distinct Spatiotemporal Response Properties of Excitatory Versus Inhibitory Neurons in the Mouse Auditory Cortex,” does what he calls “basic research.” That means that it’s not dedicated to finding practical solutions for immediate problems. “We do it for the sake of knowledge,” he said.
"We do it for the sake of knowledge."
But sometimes results come anyway. For example, the center — not Mizrahi personally — has made splashy headlines for therapies such as deep brain stimulation, a treatment for Parkinson’s disease.In 2009, Mizrahi won the Sir Zelman Cowen Universities Fund Prize for Discovery in Medical Research, which goes to a scientist under 45 at Hebrew University or the University of Sydney, in alternate years. The award honored Mizrahi for his work on new approaches that are “essential steps towards therapies which will allow the regeneration of brain structures from stem cell technology,” according to the prize website.Hebrew University’s brain sciences center was founded in 2009 with $20 million in funding from the Edmond J. Safra Foundation. In 2015 this was increased by another $30 million, a hefty chunk of the center’s $150 million initial budget. Next year, the center will move into a new 156,000-square-foot home, the Goodman Brain Sciences building. (The new building will be the largest neuroscience center in Israel and one of the most ambitious in the world, according to Hebrew University.)Until then, Mizrahi says his time as a visiting professor at Stanford, where he can focus on studying and learning about techniques like revolutions in RNA sequencing, is a gift and a privilege. But he is also looking to the future, including to students he and others are training back at the Center for Brain Sciences.He said it’s those “the scientists of tomorrow” who are growing up within the interdisciplinary approach, who will be able to take research even further with their intuitive understanding of how to approach the brain from many points of view. But once they become scientists, they’ll find it’s a hard but rewarding road, where being ready to fail again and again is a prerequisite for the job.“Science is not for everyone,” Mizrahi said, even if he’s sure that it’s definitely for him.Read the source article at jweekly.com
Humanities
NEWS

Ancient Temple Built by the Descendent of A Vast Biblical...

BY  Experts working at the Horvat ‘Amuda site have said the drone images allowed them to pinpoint their dig.Drones flying over a military training area in Israel have revealed the location of an ancient temple built by the biblical Idumean people some 2,200 years ago.Subsequent excavations of the structure, spotted in military aerial photographs, uncovered a number of cultic jars and vessels and a rare hellenistic altar for the burning of incense decorated with the image of a bull.Experts working at the Horvat ‘Amuda site have said the drone images allowed them to pinpoint their dig, the Times of Israel reported.“This technology helped us choose where to focus our excavation probes, and, indeed, it very quickly emerged that this was in fact a unique discovery,” Oren Gutfeld of the Hebrew University, and Pablo Betzer and Michal Haber from the Israel Antiquities Authority said in a statement.The temple discovered in the Lachish region military training area is just one of handful of Idumean buildings recovered in Israel. The ancient people settled across the holy lands until the civilization was wiped out by the Babylonians in B.C. 700.Trading across the region in the time of Alexander the Great they were eventually assimilated into the area’s Jewish population. The ancient carved city of Petra in modern Jordan remains one of the most prominent examples of remaining Idumean culture and architecture.Excavations at Horvat ‘Amuda revealed a series of rooms, one of them containing two stone incense altars. The bull image adorning one of them also showed the architecture of what appears to be a temple or a similar structure like a palace. "[This] may have symbolized a deity worshipped by the Idumeans,” Israel’s Archaeological Authority said in a statement. It added that as well as painted bowls, juglets and oil lamps made of delicate pottery the altar was a rare and significant find.The temple appears to have been dismantled on purpose rather than destroyed. Experts believe this may have occurred in around 112 B.C. during the conquests of the Hasmonean king, John Hyrcanus I.The Hasmonean dynasty that ruled Judea and the surrounding area at the time sacked Maresha, a nearby Idumean stronghold, home to 6,000-10,000 people. As part of the conquests locals were forced to convert to the Jewish faith or leave the area.Numerous archaeological discoveries have been made in and around Horvat ‘Amuda including remains dating from the Jewish revolts against the Romans in the second century.Read the source article at Newsweek
Science/Technology
NEWS

Enhancing the Quantum Sensing Capabilities of Diamonds

Shooting electrons at diamonds can introduce quantum sensors into them

Researchers discovered that dense ensembles of quantum spins can be created in a diamond with high resolution using electron microscopes, paving the way for enhanced sensors and resources for quantum technologies.Diamonds are made of carbon atoms in a crystalline structure, but if a carbon atom is replaced with another type of atom, this will result in a lattice defect. One such defect is the Nitrogen-Vacancy (NV), where one carbon atom is replaced by a nitrogen atom, and its neighbor is missing (an empty space remains in its place). If this defect is illuminated with a green laser, in response it will emit red light (fluoresce) with an interesting feature: its intensity varies depending on the magnetic properties in the environment. This unique feature makes the NV center particularly useful for measuring magnetic fields, magnetic imaging (MRI), and quantum computing and information.In order to produce optimal magnetic detectors, the density of these defects should be increased without increasing environmental noise and damaging the diamond properties.Now, scientists from the research group of Nir Bar-Gill at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Racah Institute of Physics and Department of Applied Physics, in cooperation with Professor Eyal Buks of the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, have shown that ultra-high densities of NV centers can be obtained by a simple process of using electron beams to kick carbon atoms out of the lattice.This work, published in the scientific journal Applied Physics Letters, is a continuation of previous work in the field and demonstrates an improvement in the densities of NV centers in a variety of diamond types. The irradiation is performed using an electron beam microscope (Transmission Electron Microscope or TEM), which has been specifically converted for this purpose. The availability of this device in nanotechnology centers in many universities in Israel and around the world enables this process with high spatial accuracy, quickly and simply.The enhanced densities of the NV color centers obtained, while maintaining their unique quantum properties, foreshadow future improvements in the sensitivity of diamond magnetic measurements, as well as promising directions in the study of solid state physics and quantum information theory.Nitrogen Vacancy (NV) color centers exhibit remarkable and unique properties, including long coherence times at room temperature (~ ms), optical initialization and readout, and coherent microwave control.“This work is an important stepping stone toward utilizing NV centers in diamond as resources for quantum technologies, such as enhanced sensing, quantum simulation, and potentially quantum information processing”, said Bar-Gill, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Applied Physics and Racah Institute of Physics at the Hebrew University, where he founded the Quantum Information, Simulation, and Sensing lab."What is special about our approach is that it's very simple and straightforward," said Hebrew University researcher Dima Farfurnik. "You get sufficiently high NV concentrations that are appropriate for many applications with a simple procedure that can be done in-house."
Humanities
NEWS

Hebrew University Graduates Ranked Among Most Employable in...

International survey ranks Hebrew University among the world's best at preparing students for workplace

November 20, 2017 — An analysis published by Times Higher Education (THE) has ranked Hebrew University of Jerusalem students as the 62nd most employable graduates in the world, placing the Hebrew University among the world's top 100 universities at preparing its students for the workplace. The ranking also positions Hebrew University graduates as the most employable from Israeli universities, followed by the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology at 113, and Tel Aviv University at 135. The Hebrew University moved up 5 points this year, from 67 last year.The global employability ranking, designed by the French human resources consultancy
Emerging and published exclusively by Times Higher Education, reveals which universities the recruiters at top companies think are the best at preparing students for the workforce. The survey was conducted among thousands of recruiters and managers from a range of firms and industries around the world. Respondents were asked to define what they look for in graduates and which universities they believe produce the most employable graduates.The top 5 ranked institutions globally were Caltech-California Institute of Technology, Harvard University, Columbia University, MIT-Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the University of Cambridge. The complete Global University Employability Ranking list is available online.
Humanities
NEWS

First time in Israel: Ancient deer bones discovered near Sea...

In an unprecedented find, Israeli archeologists recently unearthed the first evidence of ancient deer bones on the shores of the Sea of Galilee, near the Jordan Valley. According to researchers from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Institute of Earth Sciences and the Geological Survey of Israel, the remains are approximately 9 million years old. The discovery was initially made by two doctoral candidates at the university, Alexis Rosenbaum and Dotan Shaked-Gelband, who were reconstructing the lake’s stretch to characterize the composition of its ancient waters, the university said Monday. “The bones were partly submerged in a coastal sediment, and it is assumed that the animal apparently died on the shore of the lake and was eroded,” the researchers said in a joint statement. “The presence of an ancient deer is not rare in assemblages during the same period, but this is the first time such remains have been discovered in Israel. The reason for this apparently lies in the processes of extinction and burial.” The researchers added that the presence of the deer is also “indicative of a rich world of terrestrial animals” known from other areas of the Levant and the Mediterranean basin. “Moreover, the development of freshwater bodies during the Miocene Epoch (23 million to 5.3 million years ago) in the Mediterranean basin allowed the distribution of reindeer from Asia to the West,” they noted. The researchers said that studies of this type are of great importance in understanding regional climate change in recent years, as well as the development of the Mediterranean Sea.Read the source article at Jpost
Medicine/Health
NEWS

Therapix Biosciences Plans Preclinical Study to Evaluate...

/PRNewswire/ -- Therapix Biosciences Ltd. (Nasdaq: TRPX), a specialty clinical-stage pharmaceutical company specializing in the development of cannabinoid-based treatments, executed a non-exclusive material transfer agreement with Yissum, the technology transfer company of The , for two synthetic cannabinoids synthesized by , Ph.D., Professor of medicinal chemistry at the university and Chairman of the Therapix Scientific Advisory Board. Therapix plans to initiate a preclinical study during the fourth quarter to evaluate the opioid-sparing effect of these compounds in a rat model. The opioid overuse epidemic in was recently declared a public health emergency by President . According to Medical Care, prescription opioid overdose, abuse and dependence carries high costs for society with an estimated total economic burden of alone. Nevertheless, for immediate relief of moderate-to-severe acute as well as chronic pain, opioids are frequently the treatment of choice due to their rapid onset and efficacy. However, due to their addictive nature and deleterious adverse events that may lead to lethal outcomes, there is a need to significantly reduce their effective therapeutic dose, Chief Technology Officer at Therapix, said, "To address the opioid issue, Therapix is collaborating with Professor Mechoulam to develop a therapy of innovative cannabinoids and opioids. The study builds upon the innovative work of Professor Mechoulam and seeks to reduce the use of opioids by combining them with proprietary cannabinoid molecules to alleviate pain." "Based on our research surrounding the effects of the endocannabinoid system and how cannabinoids can play a role in pain relief, our group of research scientists has synthesized cannabinoids with improved binding affinity and target specificity, which do not cause the therapeutically undesirable cannabis psychoactivity," stated Professor Mechoulam. "In view of their parallel actions in pain, cannabinoids and opioids together may allow the development of a novel therapy that could exhibit a synergistic effect that reduces the therapeutic effective dose of opioids." , Chief Financial Officer at Therapix, said, "We are privileged to be working with Professor Mechoulam and the in paving the way forward to a potential new therapeutic that may one day help to address this deadly social and medical crisis." About Therapix Biosciences Ltd.: Therapix Biosciences Ltd. is a specialty clinical-stage pharmaceutical company led by an experienced team of senior executives and scientists. Our focus is creating and enhancing a portfolio of technologies and assets based on cannabinoid pharmaceuticals. With this focus, the Company is currently engaged in the following drug development programs based on repurposing an FDA approved synthetic cannabinoid (dronabinol): THX-110 and THX-120 for the treatment of Tourette syndrome (TS) and Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA); THX-130 for the treatment of Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI); and THX-150 for the treatment of infectious diseases. Please visit our website for more information at www.therapixbio.com. About Yissum: Yissum is the technology transfer company of the Hebrew University . Founded in 1964, it is the third company of its kind to be established, and serves as a bridge between cutting-edge academic research and a global community of entrepreneurs, investors, and industry. Yissum's mission is to benefit society by converting extraordinary innovations and transformational technologies into commercial solutions that address our most urgent global challenges. Yissum has registered over 10,000 patents covering 2,800 inventions; licensed over 900 technologies and has spun out more than 125 companies. Yissum's business partners span the globe and include companies such as Boston Scientific, Google, ICL, Intel , Johnson & Johnson, Merck, Microsoft, Novartis and many more. For further information please visit www.yissum.co.il Forward-Looking Statements: This press release contains forward-looking statements about the Company's expectations, beliefs, and intentions. Forward-looking statements can be identified by the use of forward-looking words such as "believe", "expect", "intend", "plan", "may", "should", "could", "might", "seek", "target", "will", "project", "forecast", "continue" or "anticipate" or their negatives or variations of these words or other comparable words or by the fact that these statements do not relate strictly to historical matters. Such forward-looking statements used in this press release include, among other things, references to the clinical and commercial potential of the Company's product candidates. Actual results could differ from those projected in any forward-looking statements due to numerous factors. Such factors include, among others, our ability to raise the additional funding needed to continue to pursue our business and product development plans, the inherent uncertainties associated with developing new products or technologies, our ability to obtain regulatory approval for our product candidates, our ability to commercialize our product candidates, competition in the industry in which we operate and overall market conditions. Any forward-looking statement in this press release speaks only as of the date of this press release. The Company undertakes no obligation to publicly update or review any forward-looking statement, whether as a result of new information, future developments or otherwise, except as may be required by any applicable securities laws. More detailed information about the risks and uncertainties affecting the Company is contained under the heading "Risk Factors" in Therapix Biosciences Ltd.'s annual report on Form 20-F dated filed with the SEC, which is available on the SEC's website, www.sec.gov. For further information: Investor Contact: , CFO, Therapix Biosciences, [email protected] Therapix Biosciences Ltd. For further information: +972-3-616-7055 Media Contact: +1-212-825-3210 SOURCE Therapix Biosciences Ltd http://www.therapixbio.comRead the source article at PR Newswire
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QueenB takes a byte out of gender gap to promote diversity...

As Israel faces a shortage of some 10,000 engineers and programmers in the coming decade, three Jerusalem-area students in the tech field noticed an even bigger scarcity in their classrooms and workplaces: women. “We’re frustrated that not enough girls are involved in the computer science field,” said Noga Mann, a Hebrew University student and a co-founder of QueenB. Yasmin Dunsky and Neta Moses, and later, Mann, wanted to address the gender disparity as early as possible. They created QueenB, a mentorship and training program for girls of middle-school age, to support their interest in computer science and instill confidence in their abilities. Israel has some 5,600 active innovation companies and startups, which raised a record $4.8 billion in funding last year. But the number of women in this growing and lucrative field is relatively meager. According to Innovation Authority 2016 data, females account for 26% of the some 140,000 people who work in research and development in Israel, or some 36,000 women. Mann traces part of this problem to the messages girls receive when they are first thinking about what they want to do when they grow up. “They think that computer science is not for them; they think it’s only for geniuses or it’s very boring,” said Mann. QueenB is now in its second year, offering basic classes in computers and programming once a week in a computer lab at Hebrew University. Currently, there are about 30 volunteer instructors helping 120 girls, teaching them a relatively high level of computer programming and utilizing high school and college-level materials, said Mann. Maayan Mirchan, 28, studies at Hebrew University and is in her second year of volunteering with QueenB. She found out about the organization through a friend who works at Google, who’s also a friend of Dunsky’s. “I’m the only girl studying electrical engineering in my year,” said Mirchan. “It’s a bummer that there aren’t more girls in the field. I think a lot of it has to do with self-confidence.… It doesn’t have to be a guys’ subject.” Mirchan teaches Java programming, as well as sessions on gender stereotyping and famous women involved in computer engineering. And the girls are quick learners. “They can work by themselves after three months, and none of them knew how to program before,” said Mirchan. QueenB girls also participate in hackathons, coding competitions, and tours of tech companies, some of which help to sponsor the organization. They learn about being a tech entrepreneur and how to “pitch” or present their products to an audience. The girls also start working on their own personal app during the year. Past projects have included an exercise app, in which clicking on a photo of muscles on the body would show exercises that could relieve pain in that muscle, and an app that identifies nail polish brands. “It was really important for us to be really interesting and creative,” said Mann. “We try to make it close to the things they’re interested in.” Tuv Feller, 14, created a “friendship” app last year that tests how well friends know each other through questions. After getting involved in QueenB, she said, she would now like to study something in the computer science field. Feller said the instructors are like “big sisters.” “The leaders are very nice, they explain everything really well. And I think it’s a good program because it’s very good for girls. There are lots of girls from all the sciences and computer science,” said Feller. And QueenB will be able to do more teaching with $72,000 it recently won at the WeWork Creator Awards, which took place in Tel Aviv on October 26. The co-working space WeWork held a competition for nonprofit and for-profit startups in Israel and around the world, awarding a total of $20 million. Mann said with the prize money they will be able to expand out of Jerusalem into other cities in Israel, such as Tel Aviv, Herzliya, Haifa and Beersheba. “The dream is having branches all over Israel,” she said. She Codes, another female tech initiative in Israel, also won big at the WeWork Creator Awards, with a large grant of $180,000. She Codes is a community of 7,000 female computer programmers that offers mentoring and courses to women who are already working in the tech field. QueenB focuses on younger girls, with the aim of giving them the confidence to enter a field dominated by men. Mann and the other co-founders hope those girls will in turn become mentors for younger girls. And even if some don’t go onto work in STEM fields — science, technology, engineering, and mathematics — Mann said they hope to give the girls motivation and belief in their own abilities. “We teach them to be brave and take on challenges, even if later on in life they won’t be programmers,” she said. Mirchan hopes that QueenB can lead to more women in the tech world. “Long term, it would be really cool if we got a community of high-tech women, even 5 or 10 years in the future,” said Mirchan. “A whole networking system would be really cool to pass around job openings and that could benefit a lot of women.”Read the source article at The Times of Israel
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German-Israeli Accelerator Speeds Up Cybersecurity...

 November 6, 2017 — A new initiative to accelerate cybersecurity innovation and collaboration between Germany and Israel was launched in Jerusalem.The Hessian Israeli Partnership Accelerator for Cybersecurity (HIPA) brings together top talents in cybersecurity from Israel and Germany to jointly work on cybersecurity projects in areas such as network technologies, internet infrastructure, and software security. The overarching goal is to trigger the creation of innovation and businesses in cybersecurity in Israel and Germany.HIPA connects the participants with entrepreneurs, researchers, mentors, customers and influencers, and the in-depth technical and business training provided is expected to give the start-ups emerging from HIPA exceptionally high chances of succeeding in the market.The accelerator program began with one week of in-depth entrepreneurship and cybersecurity training in Jerusalem (October 29 to November 5, 2017), which will be followed by two months of targeted research and development activities. The results will be reviewed and finalized in one week of technology training in Darmstadt, Germany, and presented in team pitches at a conference in Berlin, Germany (January 2 to 9, 2018).HIPA is organized by the Fraunhofer Institute for Secure Information Technology SIT in Darmstadt, Germany, and the Cyber Security Research Center at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem's School of Computer Science and Engineering. This partnership connects one of Europe‘s leading cybersecurity research centers with Israel‘s vibrant start-up scene to develop a new generation of cybersecurity researchers and to foster collaboration between Germany and Israel.Almost half of the researchers at the Hebrew University's School of Computer Science and Engineering are currently involved in various aspects of cybersecurity research. Israeli scientists in general, and researchers from the Hebrew University, in particular, have always played a major role in securing the Internet and ensuring its robustness.Fraunhofer SIT is the leading institute for applied cybersecurity research in Germany and one of the oldest research institutions for IT security in the world. Fraunhofer SIT conducts world-class applied research with the aim of bringing new technology to the market. Together with its partners, the institute works on innovative new methods and procedures, creates prototypes, develops customized IT solutions and tests existing products and systems.In 2015, the Hebrew University and Fraunhofer SIT initiated the Fraunhofer Project Center for Cybersecurity in Jerusalem. The joint Project Center is part of the Hebrew University's Cybersecurity Innovation Center, a leading institute for applied cybersecurity in Israel. German and Israeli thought leaders and industry experts attended the launch reception on Thursday, November 2 at the Hebrew University's Edmond J. Safra campus. Participants included Boris Rhein, the Hessian State Minister for Higher Education, Research and the Arts; Yigal Unna, Head of Cybersecurity Technology Unit, Israeli National Cybersecurity Directorate; and Iddo Moed, Cybersecurity Coordinator, Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs.The event was opened by Professor Danny Dolev, head of Hebrew University's Cybersecurity Innovation Center, and Professor Michael Waidner, Director of the Fraunhofer Institute for Secure Information Technology SIT. The accelerator programme was presented by Dr. Haya Shulman, Division Director at Fraunhofer SIT and Managing Director of the accelerator."Cyber-attacks are a constant threat to state and financial entities, as well as to each and every one of us," said Professor Danny Dolev, the Berthold Badler Chair in Computer Science and head of the Cyber Security Research Center at the Hebrew University. "As is proven daily, the communications infrastructure of the Internet and the many services that rely on it are most vulnerable to such attacks. At the Hebrew University, we are researching many aspects of cyber protection, including protection of Internet data routing, cloud computing, Bitcoin, the smart grid, and more. Our collaboration with Fraunhofer deepens the research into these issues and will enable researchers from both countries to collaborate on the creation new tools for dealing with cyber-attacks.""The establishment of a joint project center with Fraunhofer is a vote of confidence in the Hebrew University's scientific excellence and in Israel's position as a global innovator in cybersecurity," added Professor Yair Weiss, head of the Rachel and Selim Benin School of Computer Science and Engineering at the Hebrew University.
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U of Illinois signs research deal with Israeli university

The University of Illinois has signed a research partnership with the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.U of I President Timothy Killeen signed the pact Tuesday during Gov. Bruce Rauner's trip to Israel this week. Rauner says the collaboration will boost Illinois' economy.Officials say Hebrew University has more than 100 research centers and 7,000 patents to its credit. They say like the U of I, it's routinely ranked among the top universities globally.Killeen says Hebrew University is "a global leader in producing the workforce and innovation of tomorrow through world-class programs."Asher Cohen is Hebrew University president. He says the school is trying to "establish internationalization," expand student-exchange programs and advance large-scale research.Read the source article at Chicago Tribune
Science/Technology
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New Technique Reveals the Intricate Beauty of Cracked Glass

October 31, 2017 — Researchers have long pondered on the origin of delicate criss-cross facetted patterns that are commonly found on the surfaces of broken material. Typical crack speeds in glass easily surpass a kilometer per second, and broken surface features may be well smaller than a millimeter. Since the formation of surface structure lasts a tiny fraction of a second, the processes generating these patterns have been largely a mystery.Now there is a way around this problem. Replacing hard glass with soft but brittle gels makes it possible to slow down the cracks that precipitate fracture to mere meters per second. This novel technique has enabled researchers Itamar Kolvin, Gil Cohen, and Professor Jay Fineberg, at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Racah Institute of Physics, to unravel the complex physical processes that take place during fracture in microscopic detail and in real time.Their work sheds new light on how broken surface patterns are formed. Surface facets bounded by steps are formed due to a special “topological” arrangement of the crack that cannot easily be undone, much as a knot along a string cannot be unraveled without pulling the whole length of the string through it.These “crack knots” increase the surface formed by a crack, thereby creating a new venue for dissipating the energy required for material failure, and thereby making materials harder to break.“The complex surfaces that are commonly formed on any fractured object have never been entirely understood,” said Professor Jay Fineberg. “While a crack could form perfectly flat, mirror-like fracture surfaces (and sometimes does), generally complex facetted surfaces are the rule, even though they require much more energy to form. This study illuminates both how such beautiful and intricate patterns emerge in the fracture process, and why the crack cannot divest itself of them once they are formed.”This physically important process provides an aesthetic example of how physics and mathematics intertwine to create intricate and often unexpected beauty. The research appears in Nature Materials.
Medicine/Health
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Joint Israeli-US research distinguishes cancerous cells from...

A protein “switch” that activates the immune system to attack cancer cells when it detects signs of the disease has been developed by researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.The switch stimulates an immune response only when it detects the cancer cells, without harming other healthy tissues, the researchers said.The important discovery has just been published in the journal Cell.Immunotherapy is now seen as having great potential in the research effort to develop drugs against a wide variety of cancers. Despite this success, the use of immunotherapy remains limited due to the lack of antibodies specific to the tumor of substances that can cause an immune response to a particular type of cancer.The toxicity of certain treatments, such as systemic therapy for the whole body, for example, is another obstacle. In addition, the treatments do not work in all cases; only about 30% to 40% of patients will respond positively to treatment, even with the most advanced drugs.As a result, oncology researchers have been trying to develop integrated therapies of various kinds that serve to increase the immune response to damage the cancer cells accurately and specifically by directing the immune system to attack only cancer cells. But to activate the immune system against the tumor, but not against the healthy tissue, a sophisticated mechanism was needed to distinguish between them.In a research collaboration between MIT and HU and headed by Dr. Yuval Tabach in Jerusalem, the researchers developed a method for finding short sequences of DNA that differentiate cancer cells from healthy tissue. The research itself was conducted by Dr. Lior Nissim, MIT researchers, and Doron Stop, an HU doctoral student who is also a medical student in the Jerusalem faculty.These DNA sequences, called “promoters,” react to an existing state of the cell and change it by expressing proteins that are suitable for it – for example, in a situation of heat stress.The team found that naturally occurring proteins in cells do not distinguish well between cancer cells and healthy cells. The researchers then developed a method that enables the design of promoters that discriminate between cancer cells and healthy cells.They are continuing to develop them with DNA sequencing and using machine-learning algorithms to distinguish between them thus creating a “guided missile” that attacks only malignancies. To the missile, various methods of killing cancer cells could be added, including an immunotherapeutic “Trojan horse” approach.“We are in the midst of a huge and growing revolution in which computers, biology, and engineering will join together to change medicine,” said Tabach. “Israeli academia has an essential part in the process. This project and others like it will enable targeting in the near future of a specific cell, and killing it either with the immune system or by initiating cell suicide.”To do this, the research team built a genetic circuit, encoded in DNA, to differentiate cancer cells from non-cancer cells. The circuit, which can be customized to respond to different types of tumors, is based on simple gates used in electronics that will create a circuit only when two existing inputs are present.The method is based on the fact that cancer cells differ from normal cells in the profile of their gene expression.The researchers developed synthetic promoters – DNA sequences – designed to initiate gene expression, but only in cancer cells. The circuit is transferred to cells in the affected area via a virus, and focuses on tumors more accurately than existing treatments, as it requires two cancer-specific signs before it responds.The researchers were able to build a system that works only in specific cancer cells. They attached an “alarm mechanism” to the system, which activates the immune system and infiltrates the system with virus vectors for a mouse with cancerous growths.In response, only the cancer cells activated the alarm system that caused the immune system to attack the tumor. Moreover, the researchers have shown that the circuit can also focus on other types of cancer cells.Therefore, the researchers hope the system will also be used to treat other diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, and other autoimmune diseases.Read the source article at Jpost
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CIITECH Sponsors Research Project on Cannabis-based Therapy...

LONDON and TEL AVIV, Israel, October 24, 2017 /PRNewswire/
CIITECH, a UK-Israel cannabis biotech startup, announced today that it has selected to sponsor a research project with the Multidisciplinary Center on Cannabinoid Research of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, focused on the therapeutic benefit of cannabis for the treatment of asthma.
CIITECH selected to award research funding, through a non-exclusive grant competition, to the collaborative work of Professor Raphael Mechoulam, a pioneer in the field of cannabis research credited for the discovery of the endocannabinoid system, and his colleague, Professor Francesca Levi-Schaffer, a global expert in asthma research. Together, these two Hebrew University scientists will embark on research to identify a possible inhibitory effect of a derivative of cannabidiol (CBD) on allergic airway inflammation.CBD is the non-psychoactive ingredient or cannabinoid found in both hemp and regular cannabis strains. Last year, the UK Home Office reclassified cannabis, scheduling only the psychoactive compounds of the drug. CBD is now legal in the UK, available in retailers across the country and online."We know that CBD has anti-inflammatory properties and we're looking forward to investigating whether this will be effective on treating asthma and related respiratory conditions," said Professor Raphael Mechoulam"We're excited to further explore the therapeutic potential of cannabis."Asthma is a common allergic inflammatory disease both in children and in adults of the lungs airways causing a heavy health burden for patients. From 1990 to 2015, the number of asthma cases worldwide has doubled. According to Asthma UK, 5.4 million people here receive treatment for the condition including 1.1 million children, equating to one of the highest rates in Europe. Alongside asthma, other allergic diseases include allergic rhinitis, atopic dermatitis, and food allergy that affect approximately 20% of the global population and are continually increasing."Most of the symptoms of allergic disease patients are controlled by either symptomatic drugs or corticosteroids. However, some patients are steroid-resistant and allergic diseases such as severe asthma have been labelled as unmet clinical needs by the WHO," adds Professor Francesca Levi-Schaffer"We believe our research will provide a novel and effective solution to treating this condition."The Hebrew University of Jerusalem is globally recognized as the epicenter of cannabis scientific research. The Hebrew University's recently established Multidisciplinary Center on Cannabis Research, headed by Dr. Joseph Tam, now serves as one of the world's leading institutes on the plant. Israel's supportive regulatory environment and collaborative healthcare ecosystem place the country at the vanguard of therapeutic cannabis. Prof. Francesca Levi-Schaffer'slaboratory at the University is focused on finding novel ways to treat allergy and recently started to study the effects of cannabis compounds on mast cells and eosinophils, the major effector cells in allergic diseases."We believe therapeutic, non-psychoactive, cannabis supplements provide consumers with a real alternative option for health and wellbeing, especially in countries such as the UK that have yet to legalise cannabis medicinally," says Clifton Flack, founder of CIITECH. "Cannabis could well become this century's wonder drug and we're honored to have the opportunity to support Professors Mechoulam and Levi-Schaffer on this preclinical research project. Many of the plant'therapeutic benefits and compounds are yet to be explored and we're excited to take part in expanding and galvanizing this new field of therapy."CIITECH is sponsoring the UK's first medical cannabis conference Cannatech London on 26th October 2017, organized by iCan: Israel Cannabis.About CIITECHCIITECH is a cannabis biotech company that focuses on discovering, developing and commercializing therapeutic cannabis products. By collaborating with leading research institutions in Israel and local suppliers in the UK & the EU, CIITECH leverages the full potential of Israel's cutting-edge cannabis innovation. Through its UK based eCommerce shop EssentialCannabinoids.co.uk, Israeli cannabis products are available for the first time and exclusively overseas. Go to www.ciitech.co.uk for more info.About the Multidisciplinary Center on Cannabinoid ResearchThe Multidisciplinary Center on Cannabinoid Research, staffed by leading scientists and medical doctors from the Hebrew University and its affiliated Hadassah Medical Center, conducts and coordinates exciting new research about cannabinoids, endocannabinoids and medical Cannabis, while promoting collaboration and disseminating information. More info at http://cannabinoids.huji.ac.il/
Read the source article at PR Newswire
Agriculture
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Yissum Announces New Platform for 3D Printing of...

Yissum Research Development Company of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the technology-transfer company of the Hebrew University, introduced today a novel technology for the 3D printing of personalized food based on nano-cellulose, a natural, edible, calorie-free fiber.
Professor Oded Shoseyov from the Robert H. Smith Institute of Plant Sciences and Genetics in Agriculture and Professor Ido Braslavsky, Director, Inter-Faculty Biotechnology Program and Head of B.S. Program at the Institute of Biochemistry, Food Science, and Nutrition, both at the Robert H. Smith Faculty of Agriculture, Food, and Environment, of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, developed a novel platform, based on nano-cellulose, that will enable the 3D printing of personalized food, according to pre-defined criteria. The novel solution can serve a variety of markets and populations, including the gluten-free market, meat substitutes, the vegetarian and vegan markets, low-calorie diets, diets for people with diabetes, for athletes and more.The self-assembly properties of nano-cellulose fibers enable the addition and binding of different food components (proteins, carbohydrates, and fat) as well as the control of food texture. Another aspect of the technology is the ability to cook, bake, fry and grill while printing at the three-dimensional space. At the end of the printing process, the result is a tailored meal with special textures, enabling delivery of nutritional, tasty, low-calorie cooked meals for a unique gastronomical experience.The technology will be presented by Professor Ido Braslavsky at the 3D Printing and Beyond: Current and Future Trends conference to take place at the Hebrew University on October 25, 2017. The conference will introduce a variety of breakthrough 3D printing technologies and innovations by Israeli and international experts, from academia and industry. The conference is organized by the 3D & Functional Printing Center at the Hebrew University and Yissum, with the support of The Jerusalem Development Authority, The Ministry of Jerusalem Affairs, and The Jerusalem Municipality.Yaron DanielyPh.D., President, and CEO of Yissum, stated, "This promising technology is an excellent example of the kind of multidisciplinary, transformational inventions that originate from our Faculty of Agriculture, Food, and Environment and from the Hebrew University in general. The ability to automatically prepare, mix, form and cook personalized food in one device, is a truly revolutionary concept. The idea is to enable full control of the substances used, for the purpose of creating healthy and tasty meals that can be eaten immediately. This has the potential to address a variety of challenges facing the field of nutrition, from the demand for personalized food for people with diseases such as celiac or diabetes, personal nutritional habits such as vegetarians, to addressing the problem of lack of food in developing countries."
Science/Technology
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We can design driverless cars that cannot cause an accident

The rules of the road today are all focused around one key element: drivers. Licensing, insurance, traffic laws — everything assumes vehicles are operated under the control of a human.For driverless vehicles, this presents a dilemma: How can you tell which car is at fault in an accident? Should we license and insure owners or manufacturers or the cars themselves? More importantly: How can self-driving and human-driven cars co-exist safely?Before society will welcome autonomous cars en masse, we must answer those questions — and others — with certainty. People have expressed apprehension about self-driving vehicles and are unlikely to accept them if it is not clear that they are inordinately safer than human-driven vehicles. We’ve already seen incidents involving current driver-assistance technology where fault was unclear during months-long investigations, leading to consumer wariness.This issue will become more acute as vehicles take on more of the driving tasks. Although crashes caused by human error kill more than one million people annually, it may only take a few fatal crashes of a fully autonomous vehicle, where fault is uncertain, to meaningfully delay or forever foreclose on the tremendous life-saving potential of this technology.Governments around the world are recognizing the need to tackle these issues, and the U.S. has been proactive with pending self-driving vehicles legislation and new Department of Transportation Automated Vehicle Guidelines. Industry can be an important partner.An important next step is to collaboratively construct industry standards that definitively assign accident fault and thereby prove the safety of driverless vehicles when collisions with human-driven vehicles inevitably occur. Clear standards of blame are critical, as the autonomous vehicle’s decision-making software (i.e. driving policy) can then be programmed to follow these agreed-upon standards.In this scenario, the self-driving vehicle could not cause an accident that would be attributable to the vehicle’s system’s fault. We’ve proposed a model we call Responsibility Sensitive Safety (RSS), offering a safe and scalable approach to consider.RSS is a formal, mathematical model for ensuring that a self-driving vehicle operates in a responsible manner. It provides specific and measurable parameters for the human concepts of responsibility and caution and defines a “safe state,” where the autonomous vehicle cannot cause an accident, no matter what action is taken by other vehicles.The ability to assign fault is the key. Just like the best human drivers in the world, self-driving cars cannot avoid accidents due to actions beyond its control. But the most responsible, aware and cautious driver is very unlikely to cause an accident of his or her own fault, particularly if they had 360-degree vision and lightning-fast reaction times like autonomous vehicles will. The RSS model formalizes this in a way that avoids putting self-driving vehicles in danger of violating those same rules.We’ll use the common rear-end collision to illustrate how this works. When two cars are traveling in the same lane, one behind the other, and the rear car crashes into the front car, the driver of the rear car is deemed to be at fault. Often this is because the rear car did not maintain a safe following distance and was unable to stop in time when the lead car braked suddenly.If the rear vehicle was a self-driving car and employed the RSS model, this accident would never have happened. Using software that evaluates all actions against a comprehensive set of driving scenarios and rules of responsibility, the driverless car will continuously calculate a safe following distance wherein the autonomous vehicle maintains a safe state.With a model like RSS, an self-driving vehicle’s system of sensors will collect and maintain definitive data of all activity involving the vehicle at all times, think of it like the “black box” in an airplane cockpit.This vital data can be used to rapidly, conclusively determine responsibility for incidents that may involve an autonomous vehicle, but only if there are clear definitions of fault on which to compare the data. Such a model for safety could be formalized by industry standards organizations — and ultimately regulatory bodies — to establish clear definitions for fault. That can later be translated into insurance policy and driving laws.There is little argument that machines will be better drivers than humans. Yet there is very real risk that self-driving vehicles will never realize their life-saving potential if we can’t agree on standards for safety. We believe self-driving vehicles can and should be held to a standard of operational safety that is inordinately better than what we humans exhibit today. And the time to develop those standards is now.Amnon Shashua is CEO and CTO of Mobileye, an Intel company launched in 1999 with focused on making our roads safer, reducing traffic congestion and saving lives. Shashua holds the Sachs Chair in computer science at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Shashua is also senior vice president at the Intel Corporation.Shai Shalev-Shwartz is vice president of technology at Mobileye. Shalev-Shwartz holds an associate professor position in the Rachel and Selim Benin School of Computer Science and Engineering at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Shalev-Shwartz previously worked as a research assistant professor at Toyota Technological Institute in Chicago, as well as having worked at Google and IBM research.Read the source article at The Hill
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Collision of Stars Confirms Accurate Prediction

Two years ago, the LIGO gravitational wave detector stunned the world with the discovery of a merger of two black holes. This past August, LIGO did it again: with the help of a second detector called VIRGO, it discovered a new source of gravitational radiation. Seconds later, NASA’s Fermi satellite detected a gamma-ray burst from the same direction. Several hours later, a telescope in Chile identified the source at a Galaxy located 120 million light-years away. While this is an enormous distance for us, on a cosmological scale it is relatively close.Since these initial discoveries, most of the telescopes in the world, including the Hubble Space Telescope, have observed this galactic event. The results, which have been kept secret until now (despite a partial leak), are reported today in several scientific papers published in the prestigious journals Physical Review LettersNature, Science, and the Astrophysical Journal.These observations confirm a longstanding prediction made almost thirty years ago by a team headed by Professor Tsvi Piran at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Piran is the Schwartzman Chair for Theoretical Physics at the Hebrew University's Racah Institute of Physics. The prediction, published in Nature in 1989 ("Nucleosynthesis, neutrino bursts and γ-rays from coalescing neutron stars"), suggests that when two neutron stars merge they emit, in addition to gravitational waves, a burst of gamma-rays. They also synthesize and eject to outer space rare heavy elements, like gold, plutonium, and uranium. The merged neutron stars form a black hole in this process.Neutron stars are rare types of stars that are produced in supernova explosions when a regular star dies. Unlike regular matter that is composed of 50% neutron and 50% protons, neutron stars are made just from neutrons. Due to their strange composition, they are extremely dense: a teaspoon of neutron star matter weights about 100 million tons, and a neutron star of 10 km (smaller than the width of Jerusalem) weights about a million times the mass of Earth.The first neutron star was discovered in 1967 by Antony Hewish, who received the 1974 Nobel Prize in Physics. Later a binary pair of neutron stars rotating around each other was discovered by Hulse and Taylor, who were awarded the 1993 Nobel Prize in Physics.Shortly after the discovery of a binary neutron star pair in 1975, researchers realized that such a pair would emit gravitational radiation and eventually merge. The question that Piran and colleagues asked in 1989 was: in addition to the gravitational radiation, what else will be emitted as a result of this merger?They suggested that the merger will produce a burst of gamma-rays — which have the smallest wavelengths and the most energy of any other wave in the electromagnetic spectrum — and at the same time will synthesize and eject into outer space freshly synthesized heavy elements like gold, plutonium, and uranium. The ultimate result will be a black hole.This prediction, which Piran and colleagues published in Nature, was met with skepticism and initially ignored. However, Piran continued to work on it, and indirect evidence in its favor mounted over the years. These last observations confirm it without any doubt. “I am exhilarated by this confirmation of a prediction we made nearly 30 years ago,” said Professor Tsvi Piran following today’s announcement confirming his prediction. “I also remember how difficult it was to convince the scientific community of our idea: at the time it was against the standard model that was published even in freshman textbooks on astronomy. When we made this prediction in 1989, we did not expect it to be confirmed within our lifetimes. But with continued curiosity and the development of new technologies, we are able to learn ever deeper truths about the nature of our Universe.”LIGO’s observations have now confirmed that the recent event involved a binary neutron star merger and the formation of a black hole. The Fermi satellite detected the predicted gamma-rays, and the optical observation confirmed the nucleosynthesis of heavy elements. All of this is published today in multiple research papers, with Piran’s participation in several papers published in the journals Nature, Science and The Astrophysical Journal. These observations solve several puzzles that have bothered astronomers over the years and open new ways to understand the nature of our Universe.
Science/Technology
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Low-Tech Bubbe, High-Tech Mission

So you’re a grandmother whose kids and grandkids apparently are too busy to keep in touch — how do you remind them? Handwritten notes. Email messages. Guilt-laden phone calls. Or, since late last month, a new app touted on the revamped website of the American Friends of the Hebrew University. A video on the website features an octogenarian identified as Judith Cohen who describes the “Would It Kill You to Call?” app she’s developed that will send periodic cell phone reminders to delinquent members of the mishpocha. “Do they ever remember to call their bubbe?” she asks. After seven days without a call, a text message goes out to the offender. It seems like a great way to reach out and touch forgetful ones. Just one problem — the app isn’t real. The 90-second video, one of three that the U.S. branch of Hebrew University (afhu.org) unveiled a few weeks ago, is designed to spread the message of the school’s high-tech reputation. With a light touch. In online comments, many people said they thought the app “was real,” said Eileen Hume, chief marketing officer for the American Friends. Some asked, “where can I find the app?” Others responded with “a lot of laughing emojis and LOLs.” So far, Hume said, the video has gotten “nearly a million views. It’s a pleasant surprise.” People who have seen its closing message, “Bubbe may not have the most advanced tech, but the Hebrew University does.” “Hebrew University is at the forefront of technology,” Hume said. “It’s important to get the message out to new, wider audiences.” The video came out of a brainstorming session on new ways to get the word out about Hebrew University’s work. Then came an aha moment. Or, in this case, an oy vey moment. What about a bubbe-centered video? “Everyone has a bubbe,” Hume said. “It’s a shared cultural experience.” A casting call went out. More than a dozen actresses tried out for the role. Judith Cohen is played by Barbara Malley, an 84-year-old actress whose TV and movie credits include a nurse, a mobster’s mother and a “grandma.” Malley is not Jewish. She “nailed” the Yiddish accent and Jewish inflections, Hume said. Two other videos Malley did for Hebrew University have her “delivering desirable Jewish boys to loved ones’ doorsteps,” and reminding people “to put on a jacket when the temperature dips below 80 degrees.” All stereotypical bubbe behavior. Any complaints from the bubbe lobby? No, Hume said. “The reception has been nothing but positive. It’s all been taken in a good manner.” The American Friends are now planning their next videos. Bubbe Cohen may return, Hume said. “It’s certainly within the realm of possibility. We will build on the success that bubbe will bring.”Read the source article at Jewish Week
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Cleveland Clinic researchers find link between bacterial...

October 5, 2017, Cleveland: In a newly published study, Cleveland Clinic researchers have uncovered differences in the bacterial composition of breast tissue of healthy women vs. women with breast cancer. The research team has discovered for the first time that healthy breast tissue contains more of the bacterial species Methylobacterium, a finding which could offer a new perspective in the battle against breast cancer. Bacteria that live in the body, known as the microbiome, influence many diseases. Most research has been done on the "gut" microbiome, or bacteria in the digestive tract. Researchers have long suspected that a "microbiome" exists within breast tissue and plays a role in breast cancer but it has not yet been characterized. The research team has taken the first step toward understanding the composition of the bacteria in breast cancer by uncovering distinct microbial differences in healthy and cancerous breast tissue. "To my knowledge, this is the first study to examine both breast tissue and distant sites of the body for bacterial differences in breast cancer," said co-senior author Charis Eng, M.D., Ph.D., chair of Cleveland Clinic's Genomic Medicine Institute and director of the Center for Personalized Genetic Healthcare. "Our hope is to find a biomarker that would help us diagnose breast cancer quickly and easily. In our wildest dreams, we hope we can use microbiomics right before breast cancer forms and then prevent cancer with probiotics or antibiotics." Published online in Oncotarget on Oct. 5, 2017, the study examined the tissues of 78 patients who underwent mastectomy for invasive carcinoma or elective cosmetic breast surgery. In addition, they examined oral rinse and urine to determine the bacterial composition of these distant sites in the body. In addition to the Methylobacterium finding, the team discovered that cancer patients' urine samples had increased levels of gram-positive bacteria, including Staphylococcus and Actinomyces. Further studies are needed to determine the role these organisms may play in breast cancer. Co-senior author Stephen Grobymer, M.D., said, "If we can target specific pro-cancer bacteria, we may be able to make the environment less hospitable to cancer and enhance existing treatments. Larger studies are needed but this work is a solid first step in better understanding the significant role of bacterial imbalances in breast cancer." Dr. Grobmyer is section head of Surgical Oncology and director of Breast Services at Cleveland Clinic. The study provides proof-of-principle evidence to support further research into the creation and utilization of loaded submicroscopic particles (nanoparticles), targeting these pro-cancer bacteria. Funded by a grant from the Center for Transformational Nanomedicine, Drs. Grobmyer and Eng are collaborating with investigators at Hebrew University to develop new treatments using nanotechnology to deliver antibiotics directly to the bacterial community in breast cancer. Breast cancer is the second most common cancer in women (after skin cancer) in the United States, where 1 in 8 women will develop the disease in their lifetimes. The study was funded by a Clinical Research Mentorship Award from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, The Society of Surgical Oncology Foundation, Cleveland Clinic's Taussig Cancer Institute, Earlier.org, and Randy and Ken Kendrick. Dr. Eng holds the Sondra J. and Stephen R. Hardis Endowed Chair of Cancer Genomic Medicine at Cleveland Clinic. Cleveland Clinic is a nonprofit multispecialty academic medical center that integrates clinical and hospital care with research and education. Located in Cleveland, Ohio, it was founded in 1921 by four renowned physicians with a vision of providing outstanding patient care based upon the principles of cooperation, compassion and innovation. Cleveland Clinic has pioneered many medical breakthroughs, including coronary artery bypass surgery and the first face transplant in the United States. U.S. News & World Report consistently names Cleveland Clinic as one of the nation's best hospitals in its annual "America's Best Hospitals" survey. Among Cleveland Clinic's 51,000 employees are more than 3,500 full-time salaried physicians and researchers and 14,000 nurses, representing 140 medical specialties and subspecialties. Cleveland Clinic's health system includes a 165-acre main campus near downtown Cleveland, 10 regional hospitals, more than 150 northern Ohio outpatient locations - including 18 full-service family health centers and three health and wellness centers - and locations in Weston, Fla.; Las Vegas, Nev.; Toronto, Canada; Abu Dhabi, UAE; and London, England. In 2016, there were 7.1 million outpatient visits, 161,674 hospital admissions and 207,610 surgical cases throughout Cleveland Clinic's health system. Patients came for treatment from every state and 180 countries. Visit us at clevelandclinic.org. Follow us at twitter.com/ClevelandClinic. Editor's Note: Cleveland Clinic News Service is available to provide broadcast-quality interviews and B-roll upon request. The Lerner Research Institute is home to Cleveland Clinic's laboratory, translational and clinical research. Its mission is to promote human health by investigating in the laboratory and the clinic the causes of disease and discovering novel approaches to prevention and treatments; to train the next generation of biomedical researchers; and to foster productive collaborations with those providing clinical care. Lerner researchers publish more than 1,500 articles in peer-reviewed biomedical journals each year. Lerner's total annual research expenditure was $260 million in 2016 (with $140 million in competitive federal funding, placing Lerner in the top five research institutes in the nation in federal grant funding). Approximately 1,500 people (including approximately 200 principal investigators, 240 research fellows, and about 150 graduate students) in 12 departments work in research programs focusing on heart and vascular, cancer, brain, eye, metabolic, musculoskeletal, inflammatory and fibrotic diseases. The Lerner has more than 700,000 square feet of lab, office and scientific core services space. Lerner faculty oversee the curriculum and teach students enrolled in the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine (CCLCM) of Case Western Reserve University - training the next generation of physician-scientists. Institute faculty also participate in multiple doctoral programs, including the Molecular Medicine PhD Program, which integrates traditional graduate training with an emphasis on human diseases. The Lerner is a significant source of commercial property, generating 64 invention disclosures, 15 licenses, 121 patents, and one new spinoff company in 2016.Read the source article at EurekAlert! Science News
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Israel: land of milk, honey and medical cannabis

In August, a joint feasibility committee of the Health and Finance ministries submitted a recommendation that Israel open its booming medical marijuana business to international exports. The market could be worth as much as $4 billion a year in revenue. In the expectation that the proposal will be approved by legislators, an Israel company – Breath of Life Pharma (BOL) – is positioning itself to become the world’s largest medical cannabis facility. BOL’s new production, research and development campus in central Israel has a 35,000-square-foot plant, an 8,000-square-foot storage room, 30,000 square feet of grow rooms and labs, and a million square feet of cultivation fields. BOL CEO Dr. Tamir Gedo says his firm can store enough medical marijuana to supply the entire United States. Gedo estimates that BOL will produce 80 tons of medical cannabis per year. “Just don’t call it ‘marijuana,’” Gedo told a group of visiting journalists under high security (marijuana is, after all, a controlled substance in much of the world, including Israel). The word “marijuana” was used by US drug enforcement agents in the 1930s to make it sound foreign and dangerous. Gedo, like most in his industry, prefers to use the plant’s real name, cannabis. He refers to BOL’s business as the growing, packaging and distribution of “medical-grade cannabis” (MGC for short). BOL has no interest in pushing the legalization of recreational cannabis, Gedo says. Rather, BOL works toward bringing pharmaceutical-grade quality and delivery systems to purified extracts of the plant. Because the chemical composition of cannabis flowers from different branches is not at all consistent, companies in the medical cannabis space don’t use the whole plant but instead isolate specific molecules and turn those into controlled, consistent drugs. That can be quite a challenge: Cannabis has 142 different cannabinoids – active components – and each targets different illnesses. The two best known cannabinoids are THC and CBD. The former is the psychoactive component responsible for marijuana’s “high.” It also helps with pain and nausea, which has made it a much sought-after medication for patients undergoing chemotherapy. CBD, on the other hand, works on the autoimmune system and acts as an anti-inflammatory. It is being tested on inflammatory bowel diseases (including Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis) and has shown to be effective with conditions as diverse as autism, epilepsy, diabetes and heart disease. Moreover, you can’t get high from CBD. In order to get FDA approval, a company like BOL, which was founded in 2007, must conduct the same kind of double-blind clinical trials any drug would go through. Some 120 trials are currently under way in Israel – more than in any other country. Gedo says that if even 10 percent of trials underway at his facility result in a patentable drug, BOL could be the Pfizer of MGC. BOL’s autism trial, under the supervision of Dr. Adi Aran, director of the neuropediatric unit of Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem, will go to the FDA in 2018. If it’s approved, a commercial drug could be available as early as 2021. Medical cannabis drugs are delivered via pills you swallow, delayed-release gel capsules, sublingual tablets, drops, ointments, transdermal patches and metered inhalers. You don’t smoke MGC because that destroys the CBD and other components aside from THC. BOL is building on Israel’s reputation as one of the most cannabis-friendly countries in the world. Israel, which has the world’s highest ratio of cannabis users – 27 percent of the population aged 18-65 used marijuana in the last year – recently reduced penalties for recreational cannabis use to a fine. Prof. Raphael Mechoulam from the Weizmann Institute of Science was the first to successfully isolate THC. That was in 1964. Mechoulam, now 86, is still active in cannabis research at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and is on the board of directors of BOL. Testing medical cannabis on human patients has been part of the research landscape in Israel for years, but it’s nearly impossible to do in the United States. Only one facility, the University of Mississippi, is a licensed source for medical cannabis, and production is limited to just 650 kilograms per year. “We can produce that amount in half a day,” Gedo says. “Israel is a hotbed of quality cannabis research, because it has a much more favorable regulatory climate for doing serious scientific research on medical cannabis,” says Charles Pollack, director of the Lambert Center for the Study of Medicinal Cannabis at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia. As a result, companies are increasingly turning to Israel to conduct their phase 1 and 2 clinical trials. If you can point to previous studies done overseas, the FDA is more likely to approve a phase 3 trial in US. Of the 15 companies signed up so far to conduct their R&D at BOL’s facility in Israel, at least six are American. And while importing cannabis into the United States remains illegal (even though 29 US states have legalized medical cannabis), if a product has FDA approval companies can circumvent that ban. Israel is also blessed with a climate conducive to growing cannabis, BOL’s Gedo said. “The many days of sunshine make it more suitable than many parts of the US and Europe.” BOL isn’t the only company in Israel to jump on the medical cannabis bandwagon. Tikun Olam was Israel’s first medical cannabis distributor and opened an American subsidiary in 2016. One World Cannabis Pharmaceuticals is working on a topical cannabis cream to treat psoriasis. NASDAQ-listed Therapix Biosciences is deploying THC to address Alzheimer’s and Tourette syndrome. And there are others. The Israeli firm iCAN sponsors CannaTech, a leading medical cannabis conference and trade show that started in Israel and is now on the road to London and Australia. While Israel’s medical cannabis industry is targeting the international market, big changes are afoot domestically. Last summer, 81 doctors completed a medical cannabis course from the Ministry of Health. And the number of licensed cultivators has increased from eight to 60, including several kibbutzim. The aim is to open up the Israeli market from just a few dispensaries serving the entire country to allowing doctors to prescribe MGC preparations that can be picked up at a local pharmacy. “There are 30,000 patients in Israel getting medical cannabis,” ICAN’s Saul Kaye told ISRAEL21c. “Most people know someone who’s getting it. The stigma is being removed.” Israel has gone so far as to publish a “Cannacopeia,” a guide to the use of MGC. “We call it the ‘Green Book,’” quipped Yuval Landschaft, director of the Medical Cannabis Unit in the Israeli Ministry of Health. Some 21 countries have requested a copy. In 2016, more than $250 million was invested in Israeli cannabis companies and about 50 American companies have established R&D operations in Israel or partnerships with Israeli companies like BOL. The medical cannabis industry in Israel may not eclipse high-tech, but the two share the common root of Israeli chutzpah and the belief that bucking the rules often yields the biggest payout. When Mechoulam first wanted to study cannabis, there was none to be had. So his boss at the Weizmann Institute called a buddy at the local police station and scored a confiscated stash of 11 pounds of Lebanese hashish (also from cannabis) that the cops were planning to burn. Mechoulam hopped on a bus to pick it up. This creative approach jump-started an entire industry. Now the only question is: how high can Israel leap? Four billion dollars in potential exports (and taxable revenue) certainly raises the bar. For more information, click here.Read the source article at ISRAEL21c
Medicine/Health
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How to Cope With Tragedy When You Have Anxiety

Sammy Nickalls OCT 3, 2017 4:00PM EDT On Monday morning, thousands of Americans woke up to the news of a horrific mass shooting on the Las Vegas strip, in which more than 50 people were killed and over 500 injured on Sunday night at a country music performance. Social media was almost exclusively filled with responses of shock, horror, and grief as Americans attempted to wrap their minds around this gruesome event, while acknowledging a sickening truth: this is not the last time our country will experience senseless violence at the hands of a white man with a gun.Which leads us to the question: When you have anxiety and want to stay connected to the nation’s events, how do you cope with increasingly disturbing news?Talkspace advisory Board Member Iris Reitzes, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist, marriage and family therapist, and emeritus lecturer at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, told Teen Vogue that the interconnectedness of social media “without a doubt” has an effect on people with anxiety. “We’re constantly being inundated with distressing news about the world, most of which is updated in real time,” Reitzes said. “When something like the Las Vegas shooting occurs, we not only read about it on news outlets, but are also forced constantly to read other people’s reactions all over social media.”Reitzes pointed out that those who observe trauma via their newsfeeds are affected because they “aren’t even able to disassociate.”“Social media puts us all in the position of being observers of trauma, forced to identify with other people’s anxiety, but without any ability to distance ourselves from it," she explained.Reitzes added that constant access to the news in the 21st century “makes us feel more out of control.”A particularly disturbing aspect of the Las Vegas shooting was that victims were simply enjoying a seemingly innocent country music show. “Mass murderers like the Las Vegas shooting are unexpected, dramatic, and massive, making people feel like they can’t go anywhere safely,” she explained. “Yet statistically, there’s a great chance that one will die from a car accident, or even cancer, as compared to a terrorist attack.”With that in mind, this is how to cope with tragedy when you have anxiety.Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).Reitzes suggests using facts such as the aforementioned, which is considered a form of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) — a technique used to challenge distorted thoughts. “Most people don’t realize they are accepting life’s uncertainties on a daily basis, whether that’s the potential for a car accident or a cancer diagnosis,” Reitzes said. “That’s because we don’t hear about everyone who gets cancer on the news.”Sometimes, using concrete facts can feel cold, but it’s important to stay grounded if you want to stay plugged in and make a difference. “We always live in a state of uncertainty, and while that may produce anxiety, it helps keep things in perspective in the wake of mass tragedies,” she explained.Read news outlets directly.Instead of getting your news from Twitter or Facebook, Reitzes suggests making it a habit to read stories from news outlets directly. “That will help you avoid over-identifying with other people’s anxiety, as it provides a more direct pathway to the news itself,” she explained.Address your emotions directly.If news outlets still are making you anxious — understandable, considering the disturbing news constantly filling our feeds — Reitzes suggests making your emotions a priority. “[D]o your best to be aware of uncomfortable feelings as they arise, rather than avoiding or denying them,” she said. “And make sure to do so without judgement.”Don’t use methods of brushing your anxiety off, Reitzes pressed, such as ‘It will pass with time.’” “The reality is that quite the contrary will happen,” she explained.While that sounds anxiety-inducing in itself, Reitzes explained that the point is that pushing down your feelings will not help, but addressing them will. “If your behaviors are changing in the face of anxiety, you need to talk about what you’re feeling and seek support from others,” she said. “If your anxiety persists, you may want to seek counseling from a professional.”Monitor yourself for physical symptoms.Don’t just make your emotions a priority — watch how your body responds to traumatic news. “Look out for symptoms like having trouble sleeping, irregular heartbeat, or excessive sweating,” Reitzes said. “These are symptoms of more acute anxiety. Try to notice other manifestations of anxiety, like avoiding crowded places or isolating yourself more than you normally would.”Surround yourself with loved ones.Everyone is feeling shaky during these turbulent times, and spending time with friends and family would be beneficial not just to you, but to your loved ones. “Even when we aren’t able to identify our own discomfort as ‘anxiety,’ we’re still in a state of greater vulnerability and need support from others,” Reitzes explained. “Whether or not you’re talking about anxiety, the presence of others will help create a feeling of safety and security.”Go on a walk.If you’re feeling particularly disturbed after reading the news, try going on a light walk to concentrate on your physical state instead of your emotional state. “The same goes for seeing someone else in a state of anxiety — encouraging them to take a walk or do some light exercise — anything to get out of the state of emotional paralysis that anxiety can create,” she explained.Read the source article at Teen Vogue
Science/Technology
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Physicists Confirm That We’re Not Living In a Computer...

Scientists have discovered that it’s impossible to model the physics of our universe on even the biggest computer. What that means is that we’re probably not living in a computer simulation . Theoretical physicists Zohar Ringel and Dmitry Kovrizhin from the University of Oxford and the Hebrew University in Israel applied Monte Carlo simulations (computations used to generate probabilities) to quantum objects moving through various dimensions and found that classical systems cannot create the mathematics necessary to describe quantum systems. They showed this by proving that classical physics can’t erase the sign problem, a particular quirk of quantum Monte Carlo simulations of gravitational anomalies (like warped spacetime, except in this case the researchers used an analogue from condensed matter physics).Therefore, according to Ringel and Kovrizhin, classical computers most certainly aren’t controlling our universe.The notion of a simulated universe isn’t new. Scientists and philosophers alike have flirted with the idea for decades. Some even argue that the human mind could be a simulation. Here’s Andrew Zimmerman Jones, writing for The Nature of Reality:
In 2003, philosopher Nick Bostrom of the University of Oxford made the first rigorous exploration of the simulation argument. The simulations he considered are different from those in movies like “The Matrix,” in which the world is simulated but the conscious minds are not—that is, where biological human beings with human brains interface with the simulated world. In Bostrom’s simulations, human consciousness is just another figment of the simulation.Bostrom assumes that the human mind is substrate-independent: that human consciousness isn’t strictly dependent on the biological brain itself, and that if we could physically replicate that brain in sufficient detail in another form (such as within a computer) it would also have the subjective experience of consciousness. The replication doesn’t have to be perfect. It just has to be good enough that the replicated being has a human-like subjective experience (a “mind”). An advanced civilization with sufficient computing power to pull this off would be classified as “posthuman.”
All this being said, 
some physicists say that we won’t ever be able to prove definitively that we’re not in a simulation, because any evidence we collect could itself be simulated evidence. It’s exhausting to think about—but somebody has to do the work of figuring out what’s real.Read the source article at PBS: Public Broadcasting Service
Science/Technology
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Nobel Prize in Physics Awarded to LIGO Black Hole...

Rainer Weiss of M.I.T. and his Caltech collaborators Kip Thorne and Barry Barish discovered ripples in space-time known as gravitational waves.

Rainer Weiss, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Kip Thorne and Barry Barish, both of the California Institute of Technology, were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics on Tuesday for the discovery of ripples in space-time known as gravitational waves, which were predicted by Albert Einstein a century ago but had never been directly seen.

In announcing the award, the Royal Swedish Academy called it “a discovery that shook the world.”

In February 2016, when an international collaboration of physicists and astronomers announced that they had recorded gravitational waves emanating from the collision of a pair of massive black holes a billion light years away, it mesmerized the world. The work validated Einstein’s longstanding prediction that space-time can shake like a bowlful of jelly when massive objects swing their weight around, and it has put astronomers on intimate terms with the deepest levels of physical reality, of a void booming and rocking with invisible cataclysms.

Why did they win?

Dr. Weiss, 85, Dr. Thorne, 77, and Dr. Barish, 81, were the architects and leaders of LIGO, the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory, the instrument that detected the gravitational waves, and a sister organization the LIGO Scientific Collaboration of more than a thousand scientists who analyzed the data.

Dr. Weiss will receive half of the prize of 9 million Swedish Kronor and Dr. Thorne and Dr. Barish will split the other half.

The prize announcement at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in Stockholm, on Tuesday. The detection of gravitational waves was described as “a discovery that shook the world.”CreditJonathan Nackstrand/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity, pronounced in 1916, suggested that matter and energy would warp the geometry of space-time the way a heavy sleeper sags a mattress, producing the effect we call gravity. His equations described a universe in which space and time were dynamic. Space-time could stretch and expand, tear and collapse into black holes — objects so dense that not even light could escape them. The equations predicted, somewhat to his displeasure, that the universe was expanding from what we now call the Big Bang, and it also predicted that the motions of massive objects like black holes or other dense remnants of dead stars would ripple space-time with gravitational waves.

Read the source article at The New York Times
Science/Technology
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Energy demands in developing nations fuels storage...

- The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) reports that energy demands from developing countries are going to grow by about 41 percent between now and 2040. By that year, these nations will be using 65 percent of the world’s total energy supply. Cambridge - The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) reports that energy demands from developing countries are going to grow by about 41 percent between now and 2040. By that year, these nations will be using 65 percent of the world’s total energy supply. In the world's developing countries, the EIA is seeing strong economic growth, increased access to marketed energy, and quickly growing populations - all lead to a rising demand for energy. While new renewable energy technology is easily adaptable, the problem comes in implementing the technology when basic energy infrastructure is lacking. Because of the lack of reliable energy infrastructure, energy supplies are not as reliable. “In some places, we have hospitals that have 12 hours of blackouts a day,” says Enass Abo-Hamed, chief executive, and co-founder of hydrogen storage startup H2GO, reports the Solving the energy storage problem Storage of energy is the problem, and this is where the focus of a lot of technology is today. Ideally, if electricity could be stored on-site for when it was needed, outages would be few and far between. However, right now, the cost of existing battery technology is still fairly expensive. This is exactly what H2GO is working on. Abo-Hamed and her colleagues are working on an innovative way of storing hydrogen gas that can be burned in fuel cells. Their Powered by hydrogen, the Coradia iLint only emits excess steam into the atmosphere, and provides an alternative to diesel power. “Once you reach the required temperature, the structure gets distorted and releases the hydrogen,” says Abo-Hamed. H2GO Power uses a water electrolyzer to split water and produce hydrogen and oxygen. Hydrogen is then stored within H2GO's solid-state hydrogen storage system until needed. When energy is needed during periods of unmet demand, hydrogen is released to a fuel cell where the output is only electricity and water. Abo-Hamed says that, based on their calculations, a medium to a large hospital in sub-Saharan Africa, would need about 50 liters of water per hour. The cool thing about this system is once the hydrogen is burned to make power, 80-90 percent of the water can be used again. Who is H2GO Power? Enass Abo-Hamed founded H2GO Power In July 2014 after her successful research with a novel porous catalytic material for the production and storage of hydrogen as part of her Ph.D. at the University of Cambridge. H2GO Power is an Investments in hydrogen storage technologies is growing. Shown here is a High power Ni-MH Battery used in the Toyota NHW20 Prius. Having previously obtained her BSc and MSc degrees from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (Israel), she is currently a research associate at Cambridge and a Cambridge University Energy Champion. The company's mission is to bring affordable reliable energy to millions across the globe in a green way for large social and environmental impact. H2GO Power's entire containerized energy unit is a plug-and-play energy system the size of a standard shipping container. It is controlled using various algorithms to ensure maximum efficiency on both a device and system scale. H2GO Power's patent-pending technology involved a highly porous nano-particle based smart material that combines production, storage and controlled release of hydrogen. This three feature approach allows for enhanced safety and complete fuel utilization. In the EIA report released in September 2017 , the agency projected world energy consumption would rise 28 percent between now and 2040 - Note this is different from the 41 percent rise in developing nations. And there is a reason for this.In the world's developing countries, the EIA is seeing strong economic growth, increased access to marketed energy, and quickly growing populations - all lead to a rising demand for energy. While new renewable energy technology is easily adaptable, the problem comes in implementing the technology when basic energy infrastructure is lacking.Because of the lack of reliable energy infrastructure, energy supplies are not as reliable. “In some places, we have hospitals that have 12 hours of blackouts a day,” says Enass Abo-Hamed, chief executive, and co-founder of hydrogen storage startup H2GO, reports the UK's Wired Storage of energy is the problem, and this is where the focus of a lot of technology is today. Ideally, if electricity could be stored on-site for when it was needed, outages would be few and far between. However, right now, the cost of existing battery technology is still fairly expensive.This is exactly what H2GO is working on. Abo-Hamed and her colleagues are working on an innovative way of storing hydrogen gas that can be burned in fuel cells. Their system uses nanomaterials to create a partially flexible sponge that is able to trap hydrogen atoms in its pores. The gas gets released after the structure is heated.“Once you reach the required temperature, the structure gets distorted and releases the hydrogen,” says Abo-Hamed. H2GO Power uses a water electrolyzer to split water and produce hydrogen and oxygen. Hydrogen is then stored within H2GO's solid-state hydrogen storage system until needed.When energy is needed during periods of unmet demand, hydrogen is released to a fuel cell where the output is only electricity and water. Abo-Hamed says that, based on their calculations, a medium to a large hospital in sub-Saharan Africa, would need about 50 liters of water per hour. The cool thing about this system is once the hydrogen is burned to make power, 80-90 percent of the water can be used again.Enass Abo-Hamed founded H2GO Power In July 2014 after her successful research with a novel porous catalytic material for the production and storage of hydrogen as part of her Ph.D. at the University of Cambridge. H2GO Power is an award-winning spin-out company from the University of Cambridge developing safe and low-cost hydrogen production and storage technologies.Having previously obtained her BSc and MSc degrees from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (Israel), she is currently a research associate at Cambridge and a Cambridge University Energy Champion. The company's mission is to bring affordable reliable energy to millions across the globe in a green way for large social and environmental impact.H2GO Power's entire containerized energy unit is a plug-and-play energy system the size of a standard shipping container. It is controlled using various algorithms to ensure maximum efficiency on both a device and system scale.H2GO Power's patent-pending technology involved a highly porous nano-particle based smart material that combines production, storage and controlled release of hydrogen. This three feature approach allows for enhanced safety and complete fuel utilization.

Read the source article at Digital Journal
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Hadassah Doctor Brings New Hope to Cystic Fibrosis Patients

Twenty five years ago, Dr. Batsheva Kerem and Dr. Eitan Kerem made a significant contribution to the scientific world’s understanding of genetic mutations and cystic fibrosis. Together—with their medical-research teams—they mapped the genetic mutation profile of cystic fibrosis among different Jewish ethnic groups in Israel. Since then, life expectancy for individuals with cystic fibrosis has shifted dramatically, thanks in part to their medical and genetic research and ongoing commitment to fighting the disease. These Israeli doctors, long married, represent two of the world’s major cystic fibrosis research centers: the Hadassah Medical Organization and Hebrew University. Today, the Kerems’ research serves as a map for the genetic counseling many Jewish couples undergo before having children. Cystic fibrosis, a fatal genetic disease, causes a thick mucus buildup in the lungs and other organs that leads to breathing difficulty and increases susceptibility to life-threatening infections. More than 10 million Americans carry a faulty CF gene, many unknowingly. Thanks to the Doctors Kerem, we know that for Ashkenazi Jews, there’s a 1 in 24 chance of being a carrier, while for Sephardi/Mizrahi Jews it’s a 1 in 26 chance. If two people who carry the mutated gene have a child, the child has a 1 in 4 chance of having cystic fibrosis. In the 1980s, when the Kerems made their breakthrough, CF patients generally didn’t survive their teens. Today in the United States, where more than 30,000 people are living with cystic fibrosis, the median life expectancy of someone with CF is 37. Roughly 1,000 new cases are diagnosed each year, most by age 2. A well-published research leader in cystic fibrosis medicine, Dr. Eitan Kerem’s life’s work has focused on developing drug therapies that help CF patients overcome genetic mutations. Currently head of the Division of Pediatrics at the Hadassah Medical Organization (HMO), he founded the Center for Children with Chronic Diseases at Hadassah Mt. Scopus. At the same time, Dr. Kerem embodies the best in benchto-bedside medicine. As the mother of two of Dr. Kerem’s CF patients in New York City—both healthy in their 20s—put it, he’s an “angel on earth, one of the greatest people I know.” Dr. Kerem has been recognized for his outstanding contributions, his advocacy for children in need, and his efforts to build bridges to peace through medicine, including creating a Gaza offshoot of the HMO Center for Cystic Fibrosis that trains Palestinian medical professionals while providing much-needed medical care. At the same time, Dr. Kerem’s team is raising crucial issues in the broader medical community. In The Lancet, for example, they wrote about CF treatment strategies to improve longevity and quality of life in resource-poor countries. “Growing up, my CF doctors had an upbeat attitude, but there was no planning for the future,” says LevaChaya Simon, 29 (pictured here with her sister, who also has CF). From the start, it was clear that Dr. Kerem was different, telling her: “We want Jewish women with cystic fibrosis to be grandmothers.” A newlywed and a recently licensed nurse, Leva credits Dr. Kerem with her good health. “Dr. Kerem gave me a future to look forward to.” Cystic fibrosis mutations occur in the CFTR gene, short for cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator. This fall, Dr. Kerem will lead a new HMO clinical trial on a drug that instructs cells to avoid mutation. In April, Dr. Kerem met with positive results in a phase II clinical trial for a drug that produces enzymes to make CF patients’ mucus less viscous. As we recognize the progressmade in the past 25 years, Kerem has a clear vision of what we can achieve in the next 25 years: Nothing short of a cure for the disease. But is that realistic? “There is a good chance,” he says, “that within 25 years we will have what we need to cure our CF patients.” For Dr. Kerem and the Hadassah Medical Organization, that’s just the beginning. “The true breakthrough in confronting CF,” says Dr. Kerem, “will only occur when everyone with this disease, no matter where he or she lives, can expect to achieve a normal life expectancy and quality of life.”Read the source article at momentmag.com
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Hebrew University Faculty of Medicine gets Ben-Yehuda as...

For the first time since the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s medical faculty was established in 1949, a woman has been named as its head. Prof. Dina Ben-Yehuda will be the second woman to head an Israeli medical school, after Prof. Rivka Carmi – now president of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev – was named dean of BGU’s Faculty of Health Sciences in 2000. Ben-Yehuda, director of hematology at the Hadassah University Medical Center, will take office as the 23rd dean of Hebrew University’s medical faculty on October 1. She will succeed Prof. David Lichtstein, who held the position for four years. A graduate of the BGU Health Sciences Faculty, Ben-Yehuda completed her internship in internal medicine and hematology at Hadassah and her research at the Center for Cancer Research at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Hospital in New York City. Upon her return to Israel in 1992, Ben-Yehuda established a lab for the diagnosis and research of malignant hematological diseases. A decade ago, she was appointed professor at the medical faculty and since 2002 has been running the hospital’s hematology department. She is involved in innovative research in the treatment of malignant cells using nanoparticles of a protein inhibitor in combination with extensive clinical work. The new dean is the mother of three girls and is married to Prof. Arie Ben-Yehuda, head of Hadassah’s Department of Internal Medicine. Dina Ben-Yehuda lost her oldest brother to cancer when he was seven years old. The family tragedy was a formative event that led to her decision to study medicine. During the Yom Kippur War, she coordinated the treatment of casualties for members of the Armored Corps and their families and was awarded the Chief of Staff’s Medal in 1967. “Our faculty is unique in that it trains medical professionals: researchers, pharmacists, specialists in public health, occupational therapists and nurses,” Ben-Yehuda said. “Only with the cooperation of all sectors, including students, can we train the next generation of medical professionals and give them the ability to understand the nature of the profession, while striving for knowledge, professionalism and respectful and ethical behavior in the process of medical treatment.”Read the source article at Jpost
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Chinese millionaire to set up artificial intelligence lab in...

Zong Qinghou, the CEO of one of China’s largest companies, announced plans to set up a research center at the University of Haifa focusing on artificial intelligence. The Chinese Academy of Sciences will also be a research partner. Zong will provide the AI center with at least $10 million over five years, the research partners announced at a signing event on Tuesday, with much of the funding going to construct laboratories and obtain high-end equipment, the University of Haifa’s President Ron Robin said. “For us, this is a game-changer. We get recognition by a major Chinese investor, that the work that we’re doing is significant,” Robin told The Jerusalem Post. Zong, who heads the Hangzhou Wahaha Group, China’s largest beverage company, has visited the University of Haifa’s campus four times. The research center will focus on improving the camera lens behind driverless cars – necessary for operating a vehicle when it’s raining or foggy – as major automobile companies and tech companies race to perfect the technology in the multi-billion dollar autonomous vehicle market. “We have developed a series of cameras that are able to reproduce very high-level resolution movies using a very small number of pixels. And coming from our marine sciences, we’ve developed a camera that works under water, its high resolution even when it works under water. One of our researchers developed a camera that can take underwater pictures at great depth with virtually no light,” Robin said. Other Israeli universities are jumping into the race to perfect driverless technology, from the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology joining forces with Korean auto giant Hyundai to the Hebrew University working with Israeli firm Mobileye, which was sold to computer-chip maker Intel for $15 billion earlier this year. Most major automakers have established a research foothold in the country. The University of Haifa research center will also specialize in other AI fields, including bio-technology, big data applications and biometric identification, where Israeli security contractors are increasingly active. Robin said that the intellectual property developed at the Haifa AI research center would be divvied up fairly between the academic partners, the Chinese Wahaha Group, and the researcher involved. He did not detail the financial arrangement. Some academic-corporate partnerships in Israel have unraveled into lawsuits over who would make money from marketable lab innovations. Some 15 Israeli graduate students will travel to China for a semester-abroad program, and 15 Chinese post-doctoral students will conduct research in Israel. Around 200 Chinese students are already studying at the University of Haifa, out of 18,100 students enrolled on campus. Robin, who was previously a professor in the university’s history and communications department, said that Zong’s donation could open the door to other investors and collaborations with China. “This means that we joined a small group of universities around the world with major Chinese investment in its infrastructure and its graduate program,” Robin said, adding that the new research center testified to the weakness of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel. “In China, BDS is a non-issue. It doesn’t exist. They have great admiration for Israeli academia,” he said. “The biggest problem is unofficial BDS, when someone takes a paper from one of our researchers, doesn’t even open it, and just throws it in the garbage. That’s the biggest problem in the Western world, not in China.” The University of Haifa is also engaged in two other Chinese research projects. With Shanghai’s East China Normal University, the Israeli school has set up the joint translational institute, which focuses on neuroscience. Another collaboration is with a group of Chinese investors who may invest $6m., mostly in bio-technology and pharmaceuticals. Zong said he chose to donate to the school because of Israel’s status as a start-up leader – with more hi-tech start-ups per capita than any other country. “Israel excels in having an advanced and innovative research ecosystem. We chose to collaborate with the highly accomplished researchers of the Haifa University... whom we believe can help us achieve our goal of creating revolutionary artificial intelligence technologies,” Zong said in a statement.Read the source article at Jpost
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Atox Bio Awarded Next Milestone-based Option

"We appreciate and continue to benefit from BARDA's ongoing support in the development of Reltecimod as a novel, host-based, immunomodulatory therapy to treat severe infections," said Dan Teleman, Chief Executive Officer of Atox Bio. "We have a very collaborative partnership with BARDA and look forward to continuing to work together." Reltecimod (AB103) is a rationally designed peptide that binds to the CD28 co-stimulatory receptor to modulate the host's immune response to severe infections. By limiting, but not inhibiting, the body's acute inflammatory response, Reltecimod helps control the cytokine storm that could quickly lead to morbidity and mortality. Reltecimod received Orphan Drug status from the FDA and EMA as well as Fast Track designation. NSTIs, commonly referred to as "flesh eating bacteria", represent the most severe, rare types of infections involving the skin, skin structure and soft tissues. NSTIs progress rapidly and often result in significant tissue destruction and systemic disease leading to multiple organ dysfunction, failure and death. Currently, there are no approved treatments for NSTIs - the standard of care includes prompt and repeated surgical debridement, aggressive resuscitation and physiologic support, in addition to antibiotics. About ACCUTE The phase 3 ACCUTE (AB103 Clinical Composite endpoint StUdy in necrotizing soft Tissue infEctions) study is an ongoing randomized, placebo-controlled study, that plans to enroll 290 patients with NSTI at approximately 60 level 1 trauma sites in the U.S. Patients receive Reltecimod or placebo, administered as a single dose during or shortly after surgical debridement, in addition to standard of care treatment. The primary end point is a clinical composite that evaluates both the local and systemic components of this disease. About BARDA The Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), within the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, provides an integrated, systematic approach to the development and purchase of the necessary vaccines, drugs, therapies and diagnostic tools for public health medical emergencies. This project has been funded in whole or in part with Federal funds from the Department of Health and Human Services; Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response; Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, under Contract No. HHSO100201400013C. Atox Bio is a late stage clinical biotechnology company with operations in the US and Israel that develops novel immune modulators for critically ill patients with severe infections. Atox Bio is exploring the potential of Reltecimod in NSTI and additional critical care indications such as Acute Kidney Injury. Atox Bio is supported by an investment syndicate including SR One, OrbiMed and Lundbeckfonden Ventures. Atox Bio was established by Prof. Raymond Kaempfer and Dr. Gila Arad from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Yissum.Read the source article at PR Newswire
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4,000-Year-Old Jar of Headless Toads Discovered in Jerusalem...

In one of the rock-cut tombs, archaeologists made a rare discovery: a jar full of bones from nine headless toads. The toads had been decapitated before they were buried with the dead, possibly as a way to prepare the animals to be "eaten." Finding a tomb that's been sealed for thousands of years is always a treat for archaeologists —especially when that tomb contains a jar of headless toads. That's what archaeologists discovered inside a 4,000-year-old burial in Jerusalem, the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) announced yesterday (Sept. 25). The excavators think the jar might have been a funeral offering to feed the dead in the afterlife. In 2014, archaeologists were excavating at a Bronze Age cemetery of more than 60 rock-cut tombs in Jerusalem's Manaḥat neighborhood. They discovered a sealed tomb, and after they rolled back the stone that was covering its opening, they found one poorly preserved human skeleton. The person had been buried lying on their back among intact ceramic bowls and jars. Based on the style of the pottery, the researchers think the tomb likely dates to the early part of the Middle Bronze Age (about 4,000 years ago). [See Photos of the Burial and Headless Toad Remains] One of the jars held a heap of small bones from nine toads that had all been decapitated. "It is impossible to determine what role the toads played, but they are clearly part of the funerary rituals," Shua Kisilevitz, one of the excavation directors with the IAA, told Live Science. Kisilevitz added that during this period toads were a symbol of regeneration for people in Egypt (the neighbors and sometimes overlords of the ancient Canaanites who lived in the Levant). But it's also possible that the toads had a more practical function: At the time, the dead were often buried with offerings that would serve them in their passage to the afterlife. "Food offerings are a staple of burial customs during this period, and there is a possibility that the toads were indeed placed in the jar as such," Kisilevitz said. The fact that they were decapitated is another clue: One way to prepare toads for eating is to remove the head and edges of the limbs so that the sometimes-toxic skin could be removed, Kisilevitz added. While rare, the jar of toads isn't entirely unprecedented. Kisilevitz said she knows of a Late Bronze Age tomb at Wadi Ara in the north of Israel that also included a vessel with decapitated toads. Dafna Langgut, an archaeology researcher at Tel Aviv University, found that the vessels in the Manahat tomb came into contact with date palms and myrtle bushes, which do not grow naturally in this area. The researchers think it's possible that these trees and bushes were planted in a special orchard where funeral rituals for food offerings to the dead were held. The findings will be presented Oct. 18 at an archaeology conference at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.Read the source article at Live Science
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Rosetrees Trust Interdisciplinary Prize Awarded to Hebrew...

September 18, 2017 — The Rosetrees Trust Interdisciplinary Prize for 2017 has been awarded to two scientists from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Professor Yaakov Nahmias and Professor Nir Friedman. This is the first group from outside the United Kingdom to win the prize. The award was presented at the 30th Rosetrees Trust Anniversary Symposium on September 14 at the UCL Institute of Child Health in London. Professors Nahmias and Friedman won for their research proposal to engineer a platform that mimics the physiological dynamics of human metabolism. The circadian rhythm or “body clock” is a daily cycle that regulates many physiological processes, such as telling our bodies when to eat or when to sleep. With funding from the Rosetrees Trust, the two scientists will lead a team of Hebrew University researchers in combining Professor Nahmias’ groundbreaking organ-on-chip platform with Professor Friedman’s key understanding of molecular networks. This interdisciplinary partnership will unravel the complex interplay between changing metabolism and its underlying genetic regulation in human cells, replacing current animal models that lack clinical relevance. The research will be instrumental to drug development, offering a route to the rational design of therapeutics for obesity, fatty liver disease, and type 2 diabetes. The Rosetrees Trust is a private, family-funded charity, formed in 1987 to support medical research. Rosetrees provides grants to fund outstanding research projects across all areas of human health and disease. The theme of the 2017 Rosetrees Interdisciplinary Prize is to promote collaborative research between medicine and engineering. The prize is worth up to £250,000 over three years. The prize is given each year to two researchers from different disciplines with the purpose of inspiring collaborative research between medicine and another field, in the hopes of pushing forward medical breakthroughs in the realm of human health. This year, for the first time, two sets of research teams impressed the Rosetrees Trust panel of judges enough to issue a joint prize: in addition to the Hebrew University team, Dr. James Dear and Dr. Maiwenn Kersaudy-Kerhoas from Edinburgh University won for their proposal to develop a prototype device to rapidly diagnose drug-induced liver damage. “Each year Rosetrees seeks the best research to support and every year the quality is a little better,” said Richard Ross, Chairman of the Rosetrees Trust. “This year the judging panel found it extremely hard to choose a winner because there were so many outstanding projects.” Professor Yaakov Nahmias is the founding director of the Alexander Grass Center for Bioengineering, which brings Hebrew University researchers together to develop transformative technologies and an ERC-funded tissue engineer at the Alexander Silberman Institute of Life Sciences. His research is focused on the integration of tissue engineering, microfluidics, and metabolism. Projects include nanotechnology-based diagnostic devices and microchip alternatives for animal and human testing recently commercialized to Tissue Dynamics Ltd., a startup company that was established by Professor Nahmias together with Yissum, the technology transfer company of the Hebrew University. Professor Nir Friedman is a professor at the Rachel and Selim Benin School of Computer Science and Engineering, and the Alexander Silberman Institute of Life Sciences, at the Hebrew University. His research combines machine learning and statistical learning with systems biology, specifically in the fields of gene regulation, transcription, and chromatin. He has received two ERC advanced awards. Professor Yaakov Nahmias said, “The Rosetrees Trust Interdisciplinary Prize is instrumental in bringing scientists of different disciplines together. It will enable us to not only build a groundbreaking model of human physiology on a chip but also to leverage the advanced computational resources needed to understand the vast amount of data our platform will generate, in the hope of developing critical new therapies for metabolic diseases such as obesity and diabetes.”
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HU Bioengineering: Building a Better Tomorrow

Bioengineering is a multidisciplinary field that weaves together knowledge of biology, physics, chemistry and computer science, aiming to create tangible applications in life sciences and medicine.

The Alexander Grass Center for Bioengineering educates a new generation of multidisciplinary innovators and entrepreneurs at the cutting edge of biotechnology and medical science. The Grass Center for Bioengineering aims to bring together researchers at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem who work on the development of transformative technology. Projects include nanotechnology-based diagnostic devices, innovative medical devices advanced computational models, and microchip alternatives for animal and human testing. Read more about the Grass Center here.

BioDesign: Medical Innovation

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Biodesign is a multi-disciplinary, team-based approach to medical innovation, created by The Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Hadassah Medical Center in partnership with Stanford University. The program takes outstanding medical fellows, bioengineering and business graduate students and tutors them in the science and practice of bringing a medical innovation to the market.

BioDesign is a one-year academic course taught by Hebrew  University  faculty, clinical experts, medical  device  entrepreneurs,  corporate  executives,  intellectual  property  attorneys  and  venture  capitalists.  It  provides  a  unique  opportunity  to  gain  real  world  experience  in  an  academic environment growing a new generation of entrepreneurs.

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The BioDesign Innovation program is headed by Professor Chaim Lotan, director of the Heart Institute at Hadassah Medical Center and Dr. Yaakov Nahmias, director of the Grass Center for Bioengineering at the School of Computer Science and Engineering of The Hebrew University of Jerusalem in partnership with Professor Dan Galai, former dean of The Hebrew University School of Business Administration.

Since starting 2012, the BioDesign program has developed innovations such as:

‘Liver-on-a-chip,’ functional liver cells that detect real-time changes in metabolism and viability and drastically reduces using animal testing in research

A semi-automatic catheter insertion gun seeks to reduce pain in hospitalized children

Digital holography reducing dentures procedure Headphones to help detect ear infection and lung disease in infantsPressure-sensing socks feel the pain of diabetic patients Robotic intubation prototype crawls to the lungs in difficult situations Curvy plastic tube protects against obesityBioDesign Medical innovations have been featured in MedGadget, FoxNews, MSNBC, Times of Israel, and the Jerusalem Post and more
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10 most influential figures of the cybersecurity world

One of the best ways to stay updated with the most recent industry changes is to follow the top giants in the security industry. The cybersecurity industry is a quickly expanding market, growing in response to the increasing number of cyber crimes. According to the most recent report of Cybersecurity Ventures, its spending is expected to reach $1 trillion over the next 5 years. This expected spending has raised the demand for security vendors, opening the door for new start-up companies and growth for reputable firms. Below, I’ve summed up a list of 10 Chief Executive Officers in Security industry. Eugene Kaspersky is the CEO of Kaspersky Lab which is the world’s largest privately-held vendor of endpoint protection, operating in almost 200 countries and territories worldwide. The company employs around 3,300 professionals and IT security specialists in dedicated regional offices across 32 countries, and its cybersecurity technologies protect over 400 million users worldwide. Eugene has earned many international awards for his technological, scientific and entrepreneurial achievements. He was voted the World’s Most Powerful Security Exec by SYS-CON Media in 2011, awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Science from Plymouth University in 2012, and named one of Foreign Policy Magazine’s 2012 Top Global Thinkers for his contribution to IT security awareness on a global scale. Kris Hagerman is the CEO of Sophos. He is responsible for all aspects of Sophos’ strategic direction and business operations. Before Sophos, Kris was the chief executive officer of Corel Corporation. Previously, Kris served as group president, data centre management at Symantec, where he led a business of more than $1.5 billion that represented nearly 30 per cent of Symantec’s global revenue. Earlier in his career, Kris was founder and CEO of BigBook, an online yellow pages service and founder and CEO of Affinia, an online contextual advertising network. Kris also held positions at Silicon Graphics and McKinsey & Company. Kris has a bachelor’s degree in Russian and economics from Dartmouth College, an M.Phil. in international relations from Cambridge University, and an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business. Ginni Rometty is the president and CEO of IBM, and the first woman to head the company. Before becoming president and CEO in January 2012, she held the positions of senior vice president and group executive for sales, marketing, and strategy at IBM. She joined IBM as a systems engineer in its Detroit office in 1981. Rometty's tenure as CEO has been marked by prestigious awards including by Bloomberg who named her among the 50 Most Influential People in the World, and Fortune was naming her among the "50 Most Powerful Women in Business" for ten consecutive years. Her tenure as CEO has been met by criticism related to executive compensation and outsourcing, and IBM's 21 consecutive quarters of revenue decline. She holds a degree of Bachelor in Science, with high honours, in computer science and electrical engineering from Northwestern University. Chuck Robbins is the CEO of Cisco and a member of its Board of Directors. Chuck has more than 20 years of leadership experience and over 19 years at Cisco. He began his career as an application developer and worked as an app developer for North Carolina National Bank, (now part of Bank of America). Robbins next worked for Wellfleet Communications, which merged with SynOptics to become Bay Networks, followed by a short spell at Ascend Communications before joining Cisco in 1997. On 4 May 2015, Cisco announced that the CEO and chairman John Chambers would step down as CEO on 26 July 2015 but remain chairman. Chuck Robbins, senior vice president of Worldwide Sales & Operations and a 17-year Cisco veteran, would become CEO. On 26th July 2015, Robbins was appointed CEO of Cisco Systems. PureVPN is the brainchild of Uzair Gadit, who specializes in network and information security. As of now, he steers the information security wing of all the ventures under Disrupt. He employs his hardcore IT expertise to plug any vulnerabilities in the systems developed by Disrupt. Ever vigilant in his approach, he ensures all pre-emptive measures are in place to guarantee complete security of users’ data. Time and again, he has proven himself to be ahead of the curve and has lead from the front. Advanced features such as Antivirus/Anti-malware, IDS & IPS, Web Filter, App Blocker, etc. are the direct outcomes of the forward-looking and innovative thinking of Uzair Gadit. As of now, no other VPN provider has the same arsenal of features like PureVPN, which is another feather in Gadit’s cap. As the CEO of PureVPN, Uzair overlooks marketing, product development, user experience, finances, security, etc. His end-to-end approach ensures the highest quality output by his team in every task undertaken by them. Tom Kennedy is the head of Raytheon, a global aerospace, and defence company. Having 40 years of experience, served in many roles, each with different responsibilities but all with the same goal: protecting the United States and its allies. Kennedy became chairman and CEO of Raytheon in 2014, and today leads a team of 63,000 employees serving customers in the defence, civil government, and cybersecurity markets around the world. In 2016, Raytheon had sales of $24 billion. In 2015, began serving as chairman of Forcepoint – a Raytheon joint venture providing defence-grade cybersecurity solutions for the commercial market. He holds a doctorate in engineering from UCLA, a master’s degree in electrical engineering from the Air Force Institute of Technology (AFIT), and a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Rutgers University. During the time as CEO, Raytheon has committed millions of dollars toward educational programs and opportunities for service members and their families, especially in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Udi Mokady is the Chairman and CEO of CyberArk and a pioneer in establishing the Privileged Account Security software market. Since co-founding the company in 1999, Mokady has entrenched CyberArk as the market leader in privileged account security. During his tenure at CyberArk, Mokady has also served as CyberArk’s chief strategist and visionary, overseeing global expansion, management, execution and corporate development. Mokady was named the 2014 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year for the Technology Security category in New England. He holds a law degree (L.L.B.) from Hebrew University in Jerusalem and a master of science management degree (MSM) from Boston University. Marillyn Hewson is the Chairman, President, and CEO of Lockheed Martin Corporation. In her over 30 years with Lockheed Martin, she has held a variety of increasingly responsible executive positions with the Corporation, including President and Chief Operating Officer, and Executive Vice President of Lockheed Martin's Electronic Systems business area. For the past seven years, Fortune magazine has identified Ms. Hewson as one of the "50 Most Powerful Women in Business," naming her No. 3 in 2016. Ms. Hewson was born in Junction City, Kansas. She earned her Bachelor of Science degree in business administration and her Master of Arts degree in economics from The University of Alabama. She also attended the Columbia Business School and Harvard Business School executive development programs. Corey Thomas is the president, CEO, and a member of the Rapid7 board of directors. In 2016, he was appointed to serve on the U.S. Commerce Department’s Digital Economy Board of Advisors, and in 2017 Corey was elected to the board of directors of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, serving on its audit and health care quality and affordability committees. Corey has more than 15 years of experience in leading companies to the next stage of growth and innovation. Corey received a B.E. in electrical engineering and computer science from Vanderbilt University and a MBA from Harvard Business School. Peter Bauer is the CEO, Co-founder, a Board Member & the visionary behind Mimecast, which he launched in 2003, with CTO and fellow Co-founder, Neil Murray. Peter was born and raised in South Africa, trained as a Microsoft systems engineer, and began working with corporate messaging systems in the mid 90’s. He moved to the UK where Mimecast was founded, and then moved once more, arriving in Boston, Massachusetts in 2011, in order to lead Mimecast’s aggressive push into North America. Since that time, Mimecast has been one of the strongest performers in its market segment in terms of customer acquisition and top line growth, making Peter one of only a handful of CEO’s to have led a pure SaaS company for over 10 years while acquiring well over 10,000 customers worldwide.Read the source article at ITProPortal
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First Direct Observation and Measurement of Ultra-fast...

New technique can be used to test designs for reducing vortex motion and improving superconductors’ properties

July, 20-2017-Researchers made the first direct visual observation and measurement of ultra-fast vortex dynamics in superconductors. Their technique, detailed in the journal Nature Communications, could contribute to the development of novel practical applications by optimizing superconductor properties for use in electronics.
This photo shows four different images of vortices penetrating into a superconducting lead film at rates of tens of GHz, and traveling at velocities up to about 20 km/s. The vortex trajectories, appearing as smeared lines, show a tree-like structure with a single stem that undergoes a series of bifurcations into branches. Each image is done at a different magnetic field and each image is 12 x 12 μm2. (Credit: Yonathan Anahory / Hebrew University)
Superconductivity is a state of matter in which an electric current can flow with absolutely no resistance. This occurs when certain materials are cooled below a critical temperature. The effect is useful for various applications, from magnetically levitating trains to MRI machines and particle accelerators. It also sparks the imagination with thoughts of lossless power transfer and much faster computation.However, superconductivity is, generally speaking, suppressed in the presence of magnetic fields, limiting the ability to use these materials in real life applications. A certain family of superconductors, called type 2, can withstand much higher values of magnetic fields. This is thanks to their ability to allow the magnetic field to thread through the material in a quantized manner, in a local tubular-shaped form called a vortex. Unfortunately, in the presence of electric currents, these vortices experience a force and may begin to move. The motion of vortices allows for electrical resistance, which, again, poses an obstacle for applications.Understanding when and how vortices will move or remain localized is the focus of much scientific research. Until now, addressing the physics of fast moving vortices experimentally has proven extremely challenging, mainly because of the lack of adequate tools.Now an international team of researchers, led by Professor Eli Zeldov from the Weizmann Institute of Science and Dr. Yonathan Anahory, senior lecturer at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Racah Institute of Physics, has shown for the first time how these vortices move in superconducting materials and how fast they may travel.They used a novel microscopy technique called scanning SQUID-on-tip, which allows magnetic imaging at unprecedented high resolution (about 50 nm) and magnetic sensitivity. The technique was developed over the last decade at the Weizmann Institute by a large team including Ph.D. student Lior Embon and Ella Lachman and is currently being implemented at the Hebrew University in Dr. Anahory’s lab as well.Using this microscope, they observed vortices flowing through a thin superconducting film at rates of tens of GHz, and traveling at velocities much faster than previously thought possible — up to about 72 000 km/hr (45 000 mph). This is not only much faster than the speed of sound but also exceeds the pair-breaking speed limit of superconducting condensate — meaning that a vortex can travel 50 times faster than the speed limit of the supercurrent that drives it. This would be like driving an object to travel around the earth in just over 30 minutes.In photos and videos shown for the first time, the vortex trajectories appear as smeared lines crossing from one side of the film to another. This is similar to the blurring of images in photographs of fast-moving objects. They show a tree-like structure with a single stem that undergoes a series of bifurcations into branches. This channel flow is quite surprising since vortices normally repel each other and try to spread out as much as possible. Here vortices tend to follow each other, which generates the tree-like structure.
Seen here are, from front to back: Professor Eli Zeldov from the Weizmann Institute of Science, Dr. Yonathan Anahory from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and Dr. Lior Embon from the Weizmann Institute of Science. (Photo credit: Weizmann Institute of Science)
A team of theoretical physicists from the U.S. and Belgium, led by Professors Alexander Gurevich and Milorad Miloševi, partially explained this finding by the fact that when a vortex moves, the appearance of resistance locally heats the material, which makes it easier for following vortices to travel the same route.“This work offers an insight into the fundamental physics of vortex dynamics in superconductors, crucial for many applications,” said Dr. Lior Embon, who was, at the time, the student in charge of this study. “These findings can be essential for further development of superconducting electronics, opening new challenges for theories and experiments in the yet unexplored range of very high electromagnetic fields and currents.”“The research shows that the SQUID-on-tip technique can address some outstanding problems of non-equilibrium superconductivity, ultrafast vortices and many other magnetic phenomena at the nanometer scale,” said Dr. Yonathan Anahory, senior lecturer at the Hebrew University’s Racah Institute of Physics.Furthermore, simulation results obtained by a Ph.D. student from Belgium suggest that by proper sample design and improved heat removal it should be possible to reach even higher velocities. In that regime, the calculated frequencies of penetration of vortices may be pushed to the much technologically desired THz frequency gap.The research uncovers the rich physics of ultrafast vortices in superconducting films and offers a broad outlook for further experimental and theoretical investigations. In the future, this technology could allow researchers to test designs that aim to reduce vortex motion and improve the properties of superconductors.

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Researchers involved in this study are affiliated with Department of Condensed Matter Physics, Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel; Racah Institute of Physics, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel; Departement Fysica, Universiteit Antwerpen, Groenenborgerlaan, Antwerpen, Belgium: Département de Physique, Université de Liège, Belgium; Departments of Physics and Electrical Engineering, University of Colorado, USA; Verkin Institute for Low Temperature Physics & Engineering, Ukrainian Academy of Sciences, Ukraine; Department of Physics, Old Dominion University, Norfolk, USA.
Science/Technology
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Tech Talk: Zipy makes buying from international e-commerce...

The idea to establish Zipy happened when the three founders – Dima, Anton and Andrey – who were friends long before, met in a pub one night to drink some beer. They talked about how their parents were always asking them to buy products they wanted on Ebay. The trio are all from Ashdod. Dima and Andrey are friends from high school, and Dima met Anton in the army. They thought about a solution that would help their parents and others buy easily from websites abroad. And in the process, they established Zipy, first for just Ebay, but since then, Amazon, Aliexpress and dealextreme. They plan to add more online shopping sites in the near future. Dima and Andrey are Software engineers from Ben-Gurion University and Anton studied economics at the Jerusalem’s Hebrew University. The main purpose of Zipy was and is to make online shopping easy and accessible for those who had problems buying from sites abroad. It’s a bit like people who have difficulties with the English language, don’t have a paypal account and are without an international credit card and so on. Today, Zipy’s office is located in Beersheba, and the company has 20 full-time employees. Most of them live in the southern city, with a few working abroad from Russia. Zipy is also expanding their activity by operating abroad in Romania and Russia, while constantly looking for partners in other countries. The company went on air in 2013 in Israel. As of today, the site’s users made 2.4 million orders from Zipy in Israel, which amounts to 750,000 website visits on average per month in Israel and about $6 million turnover last year in Israel. Zipy’s services and advantages to costumers are that all products from Ebay, Aliexpress, Amazon and Dealextreme can be viewed in one site, which makes searching, easy ordering, shipping and tracking much easier, and all in Hebrew to boot, along with customer service in the language. Muvix reinvents public screening A new Israeli start-up offers an improved cinematic experience, anytime, anywhere, in different languages and in a time selected by the viewer. Muvix, a new technology start-up, was established with the goal to reinvent public screening. Through a cutting-edge, patented technology and an innovative business model, the company introduces its clients to endless possibilities for screening and viewing any content, including: movies, TV shows, sports events, live concerts, and more, delivering a fun and powerful experience – better than ever before. The company, serving consumers as well as organizations and commercial companies, enables on-demand screening of multiple content channels in the same public place, at the same time, delivering a new and improved viewing experience – either indoors or outdoors. Screening events can be held at the beach, on city rooftops, in the company’s concept site in Tel Aviv – Muvix Concept, at the client’s place or any site of his or her choosing. Just like Netflix changed the way people view content at home, Muvix intends to change the way people consume content when going out. To give the public a taste of the Muvix experience, the company has launched Muvix Concept, as a unique prototype for Smart Urban Cineplexes™ that will be available globally. The complex, located in a restored Hatachana building in Neveh Tzedek (a neighborhood in southwestern Tel Aviv), is the first in the world providing movies-on-demand in the public space. This next generation theater, conceived by the well-known interior designer, Alona Eliasi, delivers a new group experience. It includes 14 smartly designed open screening spaces, in various sizes, equipped with different screens – from a space for two – all the way up to a space for fourteen, including a space with two king-sized beds or a family space, with multiple screens. The seats on site have been especially designed by a leading ergonomist to provide maximum comfort. To enjoy the experience, viewers are asked to download the Muvix App before arrival. Using the app and headphones, viewers receive a HD version of the soundtrack, in the language they choose and in perfect synchronization with the video displayed on the large screen. The app also allows viewers to order food and drinks during the show, book tickets, and invite friends to watch with them. If needed, spare smartphones and headphones are available on site. Muvix was founded by Alon Cohen, founder, former CEO and chairman of CyberArk, with the goal of revolutionizing public screening globally. The company developed a unique platform and globally patented technology, providing perfect synchronization between the sound played on a smartphone and the picture, which enables screening of several content channels (movies, TV shows, sports events, live concerts, and more) to different groups simultaneously, in the same space, with no disturbance, thereby creating a new form of consuming media and the experience of movie-on-demand in the public space. Just say ‘Aaaah’ Two guys in a basement in Jerusalem’s Har Nof neighborhood just invented a tabletop mini air-conditioner. Working in a basement store room in the neighborhood, Ari Tench and his son David are putting the finishing touches on a new tabletop cooler that does the impossible: it makes enough cold air to keep a person comfortable even in a 30 degree Celsius room! It’s not just a little cool breeze. Air comes rushing out of Tench’s likable little box – it sits inside a piece of A4 paper – at an amazing 6 degrees Celsius less than the room temperature. That’s enough to make anyone say ‘Aaaah’ after a few minutes. The father-son duo will be selling their cooler next summer for around NIS 650. It cooler uses a new technology for water evaporation invented and patented by Tench. Most of the water (98%) is evaporated in less than one millisecond by this new process. That’s enough to keep anyone refreshed and comfortable – at a cost of less than one dollar’s worth of electricity for a month of cooling!Read the source article at Jpost
Science/Technology
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Thousands attend startup nation’s biggest tech conference

Thousands of high-tech professionals, from just-getting-started entrepreneurs to seasoned investors, have descended upon Tel Aviv for the city’s annual DLD (Digital Life Design) Conference. Now in its fifth year, DLD expects some 10,000 guests from around the world and has 100 events planned, from talks on the main stage (at Tel Aviv’s historic old train station) to an urban street happening with interactive exhibits lining Rothschild Boulevard. Delegations from Google, Samsung, Amazon and Facebook are all visiting Tel Aviv. The event will end with a closing party on the beach. Tech luminary and investor Yossi Vardi co-chairs the conference with Hubert Burda, chairman of Hubert Burda Media Holding in Germany. This year, DLD organizers have added a new focus on food-tech and agtech (agriculture technology). Israel has more than 500 locally founded startups in food-tech alone, according to a DLD news release. A panel discussion on these sectors scheduled for today will discuss the role health and wellness plays in the food and snacks category, and the impact technology can have in supporting people to make healthier choices. Among the tech and foodie delegates coming to Tel Aviv: Gil Horsky, the global innovation lead at snacking conglomerate Mondelēz International (the company that owns Oreo and Toblerone), and Yaron Amar, head of food e-commerce at mega retailer Carrefour. Other panelists will include Yossi Dan, chief innovation officer of Israeli-French consulting firm Challengy and Adi Vagman, venture partner from AgriNation, which invests in agtech and food-tech. “Agriculture today is entering its digital phase,” Vagman says. “As farmers need to grow more food with less resources, the transformation to a more data-driven and efficient industry is a must.” The closing beach party, at 6pm today, is open to the public.Read the source article at ISRAEL21c
Medicine/Health
Medicine/Health
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It only takes a few gene tweaks to make a human voice

How and when did we first become able to speak? A new analysis of our DNA reveals key evolutionary changes that reshaped our faces and larynxes, and which may have set the stage for complex speech. The alterations were not major mutations in our genes. Instead, they were tweaks in the activity of existing genes that we shared with our immediate ancestors. These changes in gene activity seem to have given us flat faces, by retracting the protruding chins of our ape ancestors. They also resculpted the larynx and moved it further down in the throat, allowing our ancestors to make sounds with greater subtleties. The study offers an unprecedented glimpse into how our faces and vocal tracts were altered at the genetic level, paving the way for the sophisticated speech we take for granted. However, other anthropologists say changes in the brain were at least equally important. It is also possible that earlier ancestors could speak, but in a more crude way, and that the facial changes simply took things up a notch. Liran Carmel of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and his colleagues examined DNA from two modern-day people and four humans who lived within the last 50,000 years. They also looked at extinct hominins: two Neanderthals and a Denisovan. Finally, they looked at genetic material from six chimpanzees and data from public databases supplied by living people. They looked for genes that became more or less active over the course of evolution. To identify these epigenetic changes, they examined whether genes had methyl groups attached to them. In general, methylated genes are switched off and un-methylated genes are switched on. So by looking at changing methylation patterns, the researchers could track gene activity cranking up or down. Modern humans showed dramatic alterations in the activity of genes associated with face shape and larynx shape, compared with our forebears. In particular, genes linked with vocal cord and larynx development were the most significantly altered, compared with our ancestors. For example, a gene called NFIX was much less active in humans. It is crucial to jaw protrusion and larynx development, suggesting its dwindling influence allowed our faces to flatten. The researchers argue that this allowed humans to develop the optimal architecture for speech, in which the vertical and horizontal components of the vocal tract are the same length (see diagram). None of these changes in gene activity was seen in any of the other species studied. “We conclude that voice-affecting genes are the most over-represented as differentially methylated genes in the modern human lineage,” the researchers write. “Our results support the notion that evolution of the vocalisation apparatus of modern humans is unique.” Carmel declined to comment on the results because they will appear soon in a peer-reviewed journal. However, other researchers say that the study, while important, does not tell the whole story of speech evolution. In particular, changes in the brain’s ability to process vocalisations made by others may have been just as important as the anatomical changes, if not more so, says Erik Trinkaus at Washington University in St Louis. “Anatomy doesn’t impede primates from producing distinct vocalisations that are homologues to different human vowels,” says Adriano Lameira of the University of St Andrews in the UK. He has previously shown that orangutans can mimic some of the sounds of human speech. What’s more, a 2016 study found evidence that monkeys’ vocal tracts could produce speech-like sounds if only their brains could control them precisely enough – although this finding is disputed. Speech may have gradually improved over the course of hominin evolution. There is evidence that Neanderthals and Denisovans could speak, at least to some extent. “Neanderthals most likely had brains capable of learning and executing the complex manoeuvres involved in talking, but their speech would not have been as clear and comprehensible as ours, perhaps accounting in part for their extinction,” says Philip Lieberman of Brown University in Rhode Island. “I think Neanderthals could talk, but more indistinctly than us.”Read the source article at New Scientist
Science/Technology
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Vuze VR camera will soon support Macs, livestreaming, and...

Humaneyes Technologies has announced a number of notable updates to its virtual reality (VR) camera and associated products. To recap, the Vuze is capable of capturing and rendering 3D and 2D VR content using eight on-board HD cameras, as well as 3D audio via its four internal microphones. At 12x12x3cm, the Vuze is pitched as a portable “point-and-shoot” VR camera, and with a $799 price tag it’s targeted at “prosumers, filmmakers, and video and production industry pros.” The Israeli firm debuted the Vuze VR camera last May, opening the device for preorders almost a year ahead of the its eventual shipping date earlier this year. To mark the 2017 IFA consumer trade show in Berlin, Humaneyes has announced that Vuze VR Studio — the company’s automated production and editing software for VR footage — will be arriving for Mac users as a beta version by the end of September. This is in addition to the existing Windows incarnation. Additionally, Humaneyes revealed that it’s launching an underwater case for divers and swimmers later this year, and in the coming weeks it will roll out new Android and iOS apps that allow users to see preview images and videos prior to capture. With Google ramping up efforts to encourage Joe Public to contribute 360-degree imagery to Street View, Humaneyes has also revealed that the Vuze VR camera now comes with Google Street View live integration, meaning users can automatically “create, edit and share” content directly to Google Street View. According to Humaneyes, this makes it the first 3D-360 VR camera to offer this feature out of the box. Humaneyes also announced that its camera will support livestreaming from early 2018. “After our initial launch, we’re getting some great feedback from current users on how to make the camera even better,” explained Humaneyes Technologies CEO Shahar Bin-Nun. “With these updates, we’re making it even easier to create and share truly immersive experiences, whether it’s capturing 360 VR video on land or shooting under the sea. We’ve also been getting lots of requests to make it possible to livestream VR content captured from the Vuze VR Camera and are happy to announce that we’ll have those and other features live early next year.” Founded in 2000, Humaneyes says it holds more than 70 patents across the 3D and photographic 3D realm, and its new camera is the result of several years of R&D at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. While countless new VR headsets and technologies going to market over the past couple of years — including Dell’s Visor headset, which was announced this week — what’s needed now is more VR content. And that’s why we’re seeing more VR cameras on the market. Vuze is notably cheaper than other professional-grade devices that have launched, such as Nokia’s $45,000 Ozo and GoPro’s $15,000 Odyssey, and even other consumer-focused VR cameras, such as Hubblo, which launched for $1,000 earlier this year.Read the source article at VentureBeat
Science/Technology
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Academic partnership launches between US and Israel

An initiative headquartered at Tulane University fosters academic collaboration between U.S. and Israeli universities to address shared energy challenges. The work of the planned U.S.-Israel Energy Research Innovation Center has been jump-started by a $100,000 gift from Tulane parents Stuart and Suzanne Grant. “This is letting us build bridges between institutions, both within the U.S. but also between the U.S. and Israel in a way that would have simply not been possible without it,” said Daniel Shantz, who holds the Entergy Chair in Clean Energy Engineering and is a professor in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at Tulane. The Grants’ gift enabled Shantz to travel to Israel in May 2017 to meet with academics and government officials there. The gift also allowed Tulane student Imri Frenkel, a rising senior majoring in chemical engineering, to participate in a summer internship in the Segal-Peretz lab at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology. Frenkel’s work, making ultrafiltration membranes for water purification, builds on his research experience in the Albert lab at Tulane. In addition to Tulane, American partners include the University of Louisiana–Lafayette, University of Washington, Texas A&M University, Louisiana State University and Argonne National Laboratory. Partners in Israel include the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Geological Survey of Israel. The Grants’ gift will position Tulane to compete for the proposed U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Center of Excellence in Energy Engineering and Water Technology that was authorized by Congress in 2014. Congress had allocated funding for the center in both the House and Senate Fiscal Year 2018 Appropriations bills, so a request for proposals from DOE is possible within 3 to 6 months. “We are delighted to be a part of such a worthwhile endeavor that will promote academic partnership between the United States and Israel,” said Stuart Grant. “Tulane is well positioned to host the center given its position in the Gulf and storied history of research and development in energy technologies.”Read the source article at Tulane University
Medicine/Health
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Access to Medical Cannabis Speeds Ahead in Countries Outside...

Despite newly appointed Attorney General Jeff Session’s unfounded proclamations that marijuana destroys families and lives, the steady march of medical marijuana successes and greater access to patients continues internationally. North and south of the U.S. borders, making medical marijuana available to patients who need it is making strong advances. Since its start in 2000, Canada’s nationwide medical marijuana system has evolved into a more accessible program for patients today, and 2018 is arriving with even more improvements. April 2017 is when Mexico’s Congress overwhelming passed a bill approved by its Senate last year to allow cannabis as medicine, allowing national research to proceed as well as decriminalizing its use among citizens. Mexico’s president Enrique Pena Nieto has fully supported this action, suggesting even more access to medical marijuana. Despite this and international research proving the merits of medical cannabis, our United States national government agencies continue promoting false “Reefer Madness” fears. (Source) A few years ago, Dr. Dustin Sulak created the Integr8 (not a typo) clinic network in Maine and Massachusetts to pioneer medical cannabis for pain issues and effectively resolving opioid pharmaceutical and street drug addictions. (Source) Dr. Sulak became an expert while pioneering this and other therapeutic cannabis approaches to the extent that he made it his mission to teach other clinicians how to administer cannabis for several health issues in addition to opioid addictions, which have become epidemic in America. His online educational system can be accessed here. A drug addiction recovery group in Los Angeles, California has adopted cannabis as the main medicine for rehab. This rehab group is called High Sobriety, a name fitting for its approach of using cannabis to be sober. Most drug rehab programs will drop recovering addicts who use marijuana. But High Sobriety doesn’t merely tolerate using cannabis to help through withdrawal to achieve total opiate drug addiction, it includes marijuana as an essential part of the program. High Sobriety co-founder Joe Schrank explains the program this way, Schrank was once an alcoholic who has remained sober 20 years after graduating successfully from Alcoholics Anonymous. (Source) Alcoholics Anonymous worked for him, but not everyone succeeds. Recent estimates show only a five to ten percent success rate with AA type programs for all types of substance addictions. This type of program is a zero tolerance abstinence only activity. Other similar programs for heroine or opiate drug addicts throw out participants who use cannabis. So it make sense that the High Sobriety experiment has had a few critics, even from those who also criticize AA type programs. It seems that the High Sobriety group should have referred those critics to Dr. Sulak in Maine to see their “experiment” has proven successful with his Integr8 clinics in that state and Massachusetts. Not only do AA type programs have a low success rate, so do medical drug rehab programs that use pharmaceuticals to wean addicts off opiates or alcohol. The official “harm reduction drug” for heroine addicts is methadone, which is full of drawbacks and side effects, including addiction and even death. Contrary to popular belief, cannabis is not physiologically addictive and not using cannabis for any stretch of time does not cause painful withdrawal symptoms. Also, cannabis is no more a gateway drug than milk, even though it’s easy to illogically point out that most heroine addicts and alcoholics once drank milk. According to Amanda Reiman, a former manager of marijuana law and policy at the Drug Policy Alliance, As far back as the late 1800s, hemp was denoted as a cure for opium sickness. High Sobriety is not a state or federally supported rehab center, and it is expensive. Years long animal research in Germany’s University of Bonn in Germany with the assistance of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Israel demonstrate that low level chronic cannabis with THC halts brain deterioration from aging. After determining that older mice memory and other brain dependent performance improved, the researchers examined the mice brains. They were surprised to find the molecular signature was not that of older animals, but very similar young animals. The number of links between the nerve cells in the brain had also increased. Science minister of Svenja Schulze North Rhine-Westphalia, the German state where Bonn University is located, commented, California research is also onto reducing or reversing dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease, with cannabis. The Scripps Research Institute of California determined in 2006 that THC prevented amyloid plaque from forming. It’s uncertain whether amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles cause Alzheimer’s or are a symptom of the disease but there is correlation and connection. More recent research at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in California has gone one step further, showing that cannabis THC also inhibits the inflammation of nerve cells where plaque and fibrillary tangles occur: Coconut oil consumed liberally also has had much anecdotal success with seniors’ senility and Alzheimer’s. So why not combine cannabis and coconut oil? All of this research is fine for getting cannabis a foothold in officially sanctioned medicine in the U.S. Unfortunately, official medicine tends to support only synthetic extracts that can be patented for profit while ignoring the vital supporting cast of marijuana plant compounds, cannabinoids, and plant terpenes, which are part of a variety of cannabis plants. There is already anecdotal evidence supporting what officially recognized research is trying to prove and the anecdotes are coming from folks using whole plant cannabis. See the following articles: DEA head Chuck Rosenburg has claimed more than once over recent years that “medical marijuana is a joke.” This boy and his mom in the video below, among probably hundreds of thousands of others, strongly differ.Read the source article at Health Impact News
Leadership
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Volatility pioneer says shorting the VIX is like...

The wager in question is shorting the CBOE Volatility Index, or VIX, and many investors are big fans. Following a recent short-term increase in the VIX, traders added almost $400 million of exposure to the trade. One guy — a former manager at Target — says he's made millions betting against the VIX. But not everyone thinks shorting volatility is so great. Hedge fund managers across Wall Street have highlighted a lack of price swings as a harbinger of pain. JPMorgan's global head of quantitative strategy, Marko Kolanovic, has gone as far as to compare the strategies that are suppressing price swings to the conditions leading up to the 1987 stock market crash. Count Dan Galai, a professor emeritus at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem whose work on an early volatility index was a precursor to the VIX, among those who dislike the shorting of the popular instrument. In an interview with Business Insider, Galai offered his thoughts on the stock market fear gauge, and had some choice words for volatility speculators. Here's what Galai had to say (emphasis ours): "It's as if you’re in a casino, and you have some stupid hot money and are trying to use it on some sort of roulette game. There are thousands and thousands of people trading VIX options, which is really a substitute for going to Vegas and betting on the roulette. Whenever people are turning the marketplace into betting, I don’t see it positively. But that’s a fact of life. People like to bet, and not to invest wisely. They’re not using any sort of long-term investment strategies. But the market always has its own dynamics, and the effect is marginal. I don’t think they change the market. Volatility is low, and it’s been low. If the market was expected to change abruptly, we’d see it in options prices. Shorting volatility is a type of trend. If you remember, before the birth of the internet bubble, some predicted that the market would collapse, and they went short, short, short. And they lost money for three years, until eventually the market collapsed. But a lot of those people were out of the market because they didn’t have money anymore. Anything can happen."Read the source article at Business Insider
Medicine/Health
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HU Researchers Find Way to Potentially Protect Kidney Health...

A new study provides insight into the mechanisms behind the development of kidney damage due to obesity, points to a potential target for protecting the kidney health of individuals with obesity.September 6, 2017 — A new study provides insights into the mechanisms behind the development of kidney damage due to obesity. The findings, which appear in an upcoming issue of the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology (JASN), point to a potential target for protecting the kidney health of individuals with obesity. Obesity-related kidney dysfunction develops early in the course of obesity, justifying the search for unique regulators that could be targeted for therapy. Obesity can cause structural and functional changes in the kidneys, which may help explain why individuals with obesity face an elevated risk of chronic kidney disease and its progression to kidney failure. Although multiple metabolic factors have been proposed to contribute to obesity-induced kidney problems, the underlying mechanisms are not completely understood. To investigate, a team led by Dr. Joseph (Yossi) Tam, DMD, Ph.D. and Ph.D. student Shiran Udi, M.S., at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Institute for Drug Research in Israel, examined the kidney cells that are responsible for the reabsorption of nutrients, while allowing other substances of no nutritional value to be excreted in the urine. These kidney cells, called renal proximal tubular cells or RPTCs, are especially sensitive to the accumulation of fat, or lipids — an effect called lipotoxicity. The researchers examined the potential role of endocannabinoids, lipid molecules that interact with the cannabinoid-1 receptor (CB R) and are abundantly expressed in the brain and periphery, including the kidney. Endocannabinoids act on the CB R receptor in RPTC renal cell lipotoxicity. Models that lacked expression of the receptor in the RPTC renal cells experienced significantly less obesity-induced lipid accumulation in the kidney as well as less kidney dysfunction, injury, inflammation, and scarring. Moreover, the study revealed the molecular signaling pathway involved in mediating the kidney injury and lipotoxicity in RPTC renal cells induced by the CB R cellular receptors. Specifically, these deleterious effects associated with decreased activation of liver kinase B1 and the energy sensor AMP-activated protein kinase, as well as reduced fatty acid β-oxidation. The research shows that manipulating the cannabinoid-1 receptor (CB R) specifically in the RPTC renal cells may provide a novel therapeutic intervention for treating obesity-induced nephropathy. “This work provides a novel approach to slow the development of renal injury through chronic blockade of peripheral CB Rs,” said Dr. Tam. “It also supports strategies aimed at reducing the activity of the endocannabinoid system, specifically in the kidney, to attenuate the development of RPTC dysfunction in obesity.” Study co-authors include Liad Hinden, Ph.D., Brian Earley, M.S., Adi Drori, Ph.D., Noa Reuveni, Rivka Hadar, M.S., Resat Cinar, Ph.D., and Alina Nemirovski, Ph.D. Dr. Tam is Director of the Hebrew University’s Multidisciplinary Center on Cannabinoid Research, and Head of the Obesity and Metabolism Laboratory at the Hebrew University’s Institute for Drug Research in the Faculty of Medicine. FUNDING: The work was supported by a German-Israeli Foundation grant (#I-2345-201.2/2014), and an ERC-2015-StG grant (#676841) to Dr. Joseph Tam. CITATION: Shiran Udi, Liad Hinden et al. Proximal Tubular Cannabinoid-1 Receptor Regulates Obesity-Induced CKD. Published online before print August 31, 2017. Journal of the American Society of Nephrology (JASN), doi: 10.1681/ASN.2016101085.
Humanities
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New Archaeology Exhibition: Ancient Bureaucracy and Clerks...

A collection of seals, some of which bear ancient Hebrew inscriptions as well as additional new findings, go on public display this week at the annual City of David archaeology conference, bringing with them a mystery. Who was Achiav ben Menachem? A collection of dozens of sealings, mentioning the names of officials dated to the days of the Judean kingdom prior to the Babylonian destruction, was unearthed during excavations by the Israel Antiquities Authority in the City of David National Park in the area of the walls of Jerusalem, funded by the ELAD (El Ir David) organization. The sealings (bullae, from which the Hebrew word for stamp, “bul”, is derived) are small pieces of clay which in ancient times served as seals for letters. A letter which arrived with its seal broken was a sign that the letter had been opened before reaching its destination. Although letters did not survive the horrible fire which consumed Jerusalem at its destruction, the seals, which were made of the above-mentioned material that is similar to pottery, were actually well preserved thanks to the fire, and attest to the existence of the letters and their senders. According to Ortal Chalaf and Dr. Joe Uziel, directors of the excavation for the Israel Antiquities Authority, “In the numerous excavations at the City of David, dozens of seals were unearthed, bearing witness to the developed administration of the city in the First Temple period. The earliest seals bear mostly a series of pictures; it appears that instead of writing the names of the clerks, symbols were used to show who the signatory was, or what he was sealing. “In later stages of the period – from the time of King Hezekiah (around 700 BCE) and up to the destruction of Jerusalem in 586 BCE – the seals bear the names of clerks in early Hebrew script. Through these findings, we learn not only about the developed administrative systems in the city, but also about the residents and those who served in the civil service.” Some of the seals bear Biblical names, several of which are still used today, such as Pinchas. One particularly interesting seal mentions a man by the name of “Achiav ben Menachem.” These two names are known in the context of the Kingdom of Israel; Menachem was a king of Israel. While Achiav does not appear in the Bible, his name resembles that of Achav (Ahab) – the infamous king of Israel from the tales of the prophet Elijah. Though the spelling of the name differs somewhat, it appears to be the same name. The version of the name which appears on the seal discovered – Achav – appears as well in the Book of Jeremiah in the Septuagint, as well as in Flavius Josephus (Antiquities of the Jews 15: 7-8). Chalaf and Uziel add that the appearance of the name Achiav is interesting for two main reasons. First – because it serves as further testimony to the names which are familiar to us from the kingdom of Israel in the Bible, and which appear in Judah during the period following the destruction of the kingdom of Israel. “These names are part of the evidence that after the exile of the Tribes of Israel, refugees arrived in Jerusalem from the northern kingdom, and found their way into senior positions in Jerusalem’s administration.” Furthermore, the sealings is the fact that the two names which appear on the seal – Achiav and Menachem – were names of kings of Israel. Though Achav (Ahab) is portrayed as a negative figure in the Bible, the name continues to be in use – though in a differently spelled version – both in Judea in the latter days of the First Temple, as reflected in Jeremiah and on the seal, and also after the destruction – in the Babylonian exile and up until the Second Temple period, as seen in the writings of Flavius Josephus. The various stamps, along with other archaeological findings discovered in the recent excavations, will be exhibited to the public for the first time at the 18th City of David research conference, the annual archaeological conference held by the Megalim Institute, will be held on September 7th at the City of David National Park. Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.

Read the source article at The Jewish Press
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Medical Marijuana: Studying for Higher Purpose

Marijuana was first comprehensively studied in Israel in the 1960s by Professor Raphael Mechoulam, considered “the father of medical marijuana.” Professor Mechoulam is with The Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Department of Medicinal Chemistry and Natural Products at the Faculty of Medicine.Mechoulam’s research team isolated some of the major compounds in marijuana, many of which had been previously unknown, including THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (Cannabidiol). THC is the psychoactive compound in marijuana that causes the typical “high” effect, and CBD is non-psychoactive. Both compounds have medicinal properties.THC has proven valuable in helping to treat a multitude of issues such as pain, insomnia, depression, nausea and appetite loss. CBD has shown an ability to treat inflammation, nausea, diabetes, alcoholism, Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), rheumatoid arthritis and cardiovascular disease. Hebrew University’s research on cannabinoids includes studying how different types and amounts of CBD treat various medical issues such as how it may help heal fractured bones, reduce or eliminate negative side effects from cancer treatment, anxiety, seizures, chronic pain and more.Israel boasts one of the most advanced medical marijuana programs in the world. More than 20,000 Israeli patients use medical marijuana to alleviate various ailments, such as Crohn’s disease, Tourette’s syndrome, pediatric epilepsy, cancer side effects and PTSD.In early 2015, Hebrew University ‘s technology transfer company, Yissum Research Development Co. Ltd., signed an exclusive licensing and collaboration agreement with PhytoTech Medical Ltd. for the development, manufacturing and marketing of a novel delivery system to enhance the bioavailability of cannabidiol (CBD) and/or THC. The novel formulations are based on oral and transbuccal delivery technologies developed by Professors Abraham Domb and Amnon Hoffman of The Hebrew University Faculty of Medicine, School of Pharmacy, Institute of Drug Research.Hebrew University’s efforts in medical marijuana research have been featured in The New York Times, BBC News, Washington Post, National Geographic, The New Yorker, Bloomberg and more.With more than 400 scientific papers and 35 patents to his name, Professor Mechoulam is so highly regarded that a documentary about him came out in 2015. Watch The Scientist below:
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The Lautenberg Center For Immunology and Cancer Research

The Lautenberg Center, headed by Professor Ofer Mandelboim, has achieved international recognition as a major unit for research and instruction in immunological science. Its personnel includes more than 30 faculty members, postdoctoral and research associates. Organized into several independent, but closely collaborating research units, the center’s staff, is pursuing a multifaceted program of investigation in tumor immunology, transplantation immunology, and basic cellular and molecular immunology. More than 1000 scientific communications – articles reporting research findings, reviews, chapters in textbooks and in symposium publications, books, and abstracts of lectures presented at international scientific conventions – have been published by investigators conducting their studies in the center’s laboratories.The center offers formal courses of lecture and laboratory instruction in immunology, molecular biology, tumor biology and host-parasite relationship studies to medical, dentistry, and pharmacy students, and to undergraduate and graduate students in the natural sciences. Large numbers of graduate and medical students, including many from abroad, pursue dissertational research at the center, and foreign scholars with advanced standing are frequent visitors for prolonged periods of joint investigational endeavors.A variety of clinical services and consultation to hospitals in Israel is provided, especially through its affiliated Unit of Tissue typing. The Lautenberg Center is linked to Israel and international scientific and medical communities by an intensive, ongoing program of collaborative basic studies and by its active role in the planning and carrying out of clinical trials pertaining to the diagnosis and therapy of neoplastic, infectious and parasitic diseases.
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New study offers insights on mechanisms behind development...

A new study provides insights on the mechanisms behind the development of kidney damage due to obesity. The findings, which appear in an upcoming issue of the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology (JASN), point to a potential target for protecting the kidney health of individuals with obesity. Obesity can cause structural and functional changes in the kidneys, which may help explain why individuals with obesity face an elevated risk of chronic kidney disease and its progression to kidney failure. Although multiple metabolic factors have been proposed to contribute to obesity-induced kidney problems, the underlying mechanisms are not completely understood. To investigate, a team led by Joseph Tam, DMD, PhD and PhD student Shiran Udi, MSc (Institute for Drug Research, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, in Israel) examined the kidney cells that are responsible for the reabsorption of nutrients, while allowing other substances of no nutritional value to be excreted in the urine. These renal proximal tubular cells (RPTCs) are especially sensitive to the accumulation of fat, or lipids, an effect called lipotoxicity. The researchers examined the potential role of endocannabinoids, lipid molecules that act on a cellular receptor (CB R), in RPTC lipotoxicity. Mice that lacked expression of the receptor in RPTCs experienced significantly less obesity-induced lipid accumulation in the kidney as well as less kidney dysfunction, injury, inflammation, and scarring. Moreover, the study revealed the molecular signaling pathway involved in mediating the CB R-induced kidney injury and lipotoxicity in RPTCs. Specifically, these deleterious effects associated with decreased activation of liver kinase B1 and the energy sensor AMP-activated protein kinase, as well as reduced fatty acid β-oxidation. "This work provides a novel approach to slow the development of renal injury through chronic blockade of peripheral CB Rs," said Dr. Tam. "And, it also supports strategies aimed at reducing the activity of the endocannabinoid system, specifically in the kidney, to attenuate the development of RPTC dysfunction in obesity."Read the source article at Health News and Information
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Rothberg International School: The Gateway to Global...

In 1955, the first program for international students opened at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Today, more than 50 programs for international students are offered at The Hebrew University and its Rothberg International School (RIS), located on the beautiful Mount Scopus campus in Jerusalem.afhu096Undergraduate students from leading universities and colleges throughout the world are offered a rich array of interdisciplinary programs extending over an academic year or semester. Students attend an intensive Hebrew language course (Ulpan), designed to help them acclimate to Israel before they launch their studies.  Students also enjoy an extensive program of extracurricular studies and enrichment activities that expands their knowledge and heightens the pleasure of their overseas study experience in Israel.Programs in the Division of Graduate Studies at the RIS are offered in cooperation with the Faculties and Schools of The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel’s top-ranked and most comprehensive university.  Both Master’s degree and visiting scholar options are available to RIS students.  Seminars and tutorials are provided in areas such as Jewish and religious studies, Jewish education, Israel studies, the Middle East, the Bible, nonprofit management and leadership, business and law.  Many courses are taught mainly in English, and Hebrew language instruction is available on all levels, as are courses in Arabic, Biblical Hebrew and Greek.afhu124A variety of exciting short-term summer courses and special programs are also made available through the RIS.  During the summer term, visiting undergraduate and graduate students from other countries benefit from a stimulating academic and cultural experience. They gain the opportunity to live and breathe their chosen subject matter, and to experience Israel to the fullest.Detailed information about the Rothberg International School programs is available on the RIS website.  Follow RIS on Facebook.
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Nanoscale chip system measures light to enable portable...

Further development could open door to on-chip biological and chemical sensing applications, e.g. detecting chemicals in real-time continuous flow systems and even in an open-air environmentAugust 30, 2017 — Researchers at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem have created a nanophotonic chip system using lasers and bacteria to observe fluorescence emitted from a single bacterial cell. To fix the bacteria in place and to route light toward individual bacterial cells, they used V-groove-shaped plasmonic waveguides, tiny aluminum-coated rods only tens of nanometers in diameter. The novel system, described in the journal Nano Letters, paves the way for an efficient and portable on-chip system for diverse cell-based sensing applications, such as detecting chemicals in real-time.The field of on-chip photonic devices for biological and chemical sensing applications presents many powerful alternatives to conventional analytical techniques for applications ranging from “lab on a chip” to environmental monitoring.  However, these sensing schemes rely mainly on off-chip detection and require a cumbersome apparatus, even when measuring only single cells.The Hebrew University team looked for ways to integrate all system components, including light sources and detectors, on-chip at the nanoscale. This would result in a lab-on-chip system that is small, portable and can perform sensing in real-time.To achieve this, they molecularly engineered live bacteria that emit a fluorescent signal in the presence of target compounds. They paired these on-chip with a nanoscale waveguide, which not only served the purpose of guiding light, but also allowed mechanical trapping of individual bacteria within the V-groove.In three different illumination conditions, they experimentally demonstrated the interrogation of an individual Escherichia coli bacterial cell using a nanoscale plasmonic V-groove waveguide. First, they measured the light emitted from a bacterium flowing on top of the nanocoupler in a liquid environment by allowing the fluorescence from the bacterium to be coupled directly into the waveguide through the nanocoupler. Next, a bacterium was mechanically trapped within the V groove waveguide and was excited by laser directly either from the top or through the nanocoupler. In all cases, significant fluorescence was collected from the output nano coupler into the detector.The system worked well both in wet environments, where the bacteria are flowing on top of the waveguide, and in dry conditions, where the bacteria are trapped within the waveguide.The research was led by Professor Uriel Levy, Director of The Harvey M. Krueger Family Center for Nanoscience and Nanotechnology at the Hebrew University in collaboration with Professor Shimshon Belkin, at the Hebrew University’s Alexander Silberman Institute of Life Sciences, who genetically engineered the bacterial sensors, and Professor Anders Kristensen from the Danish Technical University, who was in charge of fabricating the V-groove waveguides. Professor Levy is the Eric Samson Chair in Applied Science and Technology, and Professor Belkin is the Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare Chair in Industrial Hygiene, at the Hebrew University.Unlike the more traditional plasmonic waveguides consisting of either silver or gold, the choice of aluminum was instrumental for being able to guide the fluorescent light emitted from the bacteria all the way to the output nanocoupler. Furthermore, the waveguide dimensions allow for efficient mechanical trapping of the bacteria and the multimode characteristics may become instrumental in gathering more information, e.g., on the specific position and orientation of the bacteria.The results provide a clear indication of the feasibility of constructing a hybrid bioplasmonic system using live cells. Future work will include the construction of waveguide network, diversifying the system to incorporate different types of bacterial sensors for the detection of various biological or chemical analytes.# # #The research is a collaboration between scientists at the Department of Applied Physics, the Rachel and Selim Benin School of Engineering and Computer Science, the Harvey M. Krueger Family Center for Nanoscience and Nanotechnology, and the Alexander Silberman Institute of Life Sciences, at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel; and the Department of Micro- and Nanotechnology, Technical University of Denmark, Kongens Lyngby, Denmark. Additional researchers include Oren Lotan, Jonathan Bar-David, Cameron L.C. Smith, and Sharon Yagur-Kroll.Support: The researchers acknowledge financial support from the Danish International Network Programme (grant no. 1370-00124B) with Israel. Work in the Belkin lab was partially supported by the Minerva Center for Bio-Hybrid Complex Systems and by the NATO Science for Peace and Security Programme project 985042.Citation: Oren Lotan, Jonathan Bar-David, Cameron L.C. Smith, Sharon Yagur-Kroll, Shimshon Belkin, Anders Kristensen, and Uriel Levy*. Nanoscale Plasmonic V-Groove Waveguides for the Interrogation of Single Fluorescent Bacterial Cells. Nano Lett., Article ASAP. DOI: 10.1021/acs.nanolett.7b02132. Publication Date (Web): August 3, 2017. http://pubs.acs.org/doi/10.1021/acs.nanolett.7b02132
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Academic partnership launches between US and Israel

An initiative headquartered at Tulane University fosters academic collaboration between U.S. and Israeli universities to address shared energy challenges. The work of the planned U.S.-Israel Energy Research Innovation Center has been jump-started by a $100,000 gift from Tulane parents Stuart and Suzanne Grant. “This is letting us build bridges between institutions, both within the U.S. but also between the U.S. and Israel in a way that would have simply not been possible without it,” said Daniel Shantz, who holds the Entergy Chair in Clean Energy Engineering and is a professor in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at Tulane. The Grants’ gift enabled Shantz to travel to Israel in May 2017 to meet with academics and government officials there. The gift also allowed Tulane student Imri Frenkel, a rising senior majoring in chemical engineering, to participate in a summer internship in the Segal-Peretz lab at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology. Frenkel’s work, making ultrafiltration membranes for water purification, builds on his research experience in the Albert lab at Tulane. In addition to Tulane, American partners include the University of Louisiana–Lafayette, University of Washington, Texas A&M University, Louisiana State University and Argonne National Laboratory. Partners in Israel include the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Geological Survey of Israel. The Grants’ gift will position Tulane to compete for the proposed U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Center of Excellence in Energy Engineering and Water Technology that was authorized by Congress in 2014. Congress had allocated funding for the center in both the House and Senate Fiscal Year 2018 Appropriations bills, so a request for proposals from DOE is possible within 3 to 6 months. “We are delighted to be a part of such a worthwhile endeavor that will promote academic partnership between the United States and Israel,” said Stuart Grant. “Tulane is well positioned to host the center given its position in the Gulf and storied history of research and development in energy technologies.”Read the source article at Tulane University
Humanities
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Expressing Anger Can Make You Happier, According to Study |

Are your children getting on your last nerve? Did a coworker’s comment rub you the wrong way? There’s no need to plug the steam coming out of your ears. In fact, science now gives you full permission to let those emotions rip; you might actually be happier for it. If that seems counterintuitive, hear us out. A new study suggests that people tend to be happier if they can feel and express emotions as they want. That goes for unpleasant emotions like anger and hatred, too. An international team of researchers recruited 2,300 university students from the United States, Brazil, China, Germany, Ghana, Israel, Poland, and Singapore. They then asked the participants to tell them which emotions they desired and which ones they actually felt, and then compared those responses to how the participants rated their overall happiness or life satisfaction. The results showed an interesting trend. While participants across the board wanted to experience more pleasant emotions, they reported higher life satisfaction if the emotions they experienced matched those they desired. More surprising still, 11 percent of people wanted to feel less of positive emotions, such as love and empathy, and 10 percent of people wanted to feel more negative emotions, such as hatred and anger. At first glance, these results might seem confusing. But there’s a simple explanation, according to the study’s authors. Happiness is “more than simply feeling pleasure and avoiding pain,” they write. It is also learning to release negative emotions when you feel them, instead of ignoring them or bottling them up. (And truth be told, money CAN buy happiness if you spend it like this.) “If you feel emotions you want to feel, even if they’re unpleasant, then you’re better off,” lead researcher Dr Maya Tamir from The Hebrew University of Jerusalem told the BBC News website. “Someone who feels no anger when reading about child abuse might think they should be angrier about the plight of abused children, so want to feel more anger than they actually do in that moment.” Sounds simple enough. But in case your anger gets too out of hand, try these tips to get calm fast.Read the source article at Reader’s Digest
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Reader Submitted: This Student Merged Science and Design to...

Flat surfaces with carefully planned cuts—with a single motion their purpose is revealed.

I graduated from a unique joint program for Computer Science at The Hebrew University and Industrial Design at Bezalel Academy. My project is a result of my studies, combined scientific research with aesthetics and leaves an opening to variety of potential applications.

My fascination of using mathematics as a tool to enhance design led me to the development of a new design and production form based on auxetic structures. Auxetics are structures or materials that when stretched, become thicker perpendicular to the applied force. This structure serves as the basis for planning cuts that provide the flat sheet with its potential third dimension.

Design Team

Designer: Tamar Levy

Advisor: Tal Gur

Stainless steel hangerFrom 2D metal sheet to 3d hanger
Oded AntmanKinetic bamboo BagReacts to hand movement inside
Oded AntmanKinetic bamboo Bagside view
Oded AntmanKinetic bamboo BagReacts to its varying content volumes
Oded AntmanTextile partition - detailUnder gravity laws the parametrically designed textile partitions receive a three dimensional transformation.
Hanger - stretching manipulationStretching manipulation - from 2D metal sheet to 3D hander
Kinetic bamboo BagKinetic bag, reacts to its varying content volumes
Hanger
Oded AntmanTextile partitionSphere mapping, 3D transformation detail
Oded AntmanTextile partitionGradient mapping, 3D transformation detail
Oded AntmanTextile partitionUnder gravity laws the parametrically designed textile partitions receive a three dimensional transformation.

My project, guided by Tal Gur, was a process of cutting style development, transforming from 2D to 3D and exploring behavior of various materials under deformation. The cuts are made using common techniques and technologies, while abiding to two central constraints: minimize material loss and create the ability to transform the two dimensional form into a three dimensional structure in a single manipulation.

Designing the complex auxetic geometries was fraught with obstacles. By treating the pattern design as an algorithmic problem, I built an auxetic pattern rule-based system. The process led to various discoveries. For example, when the pattern is enclosed with an uncut border (see image…) the direction of expansion is upwards and is receives a three dimensional form. In addition, it became clear that there were three parameters that influenced the sheet's behavior: material, geometry and transition method. While with textiles and layered materials the transformation can be repeated, with metal it is irreversible. The method of the transition between dimensions can be created by various forces which gives the object special characteristics. On the one hand, external physical forces, such as electromagnetic field or gravity. On the other hand, manual forces like stretching, pulling or pushing.

Potential applications of these forms could be done in different disciplines and varying scales, from medical stents to architectural structures. As a result of my research, I chose to demonstrate three applications that best show the production method capabilities from different angles. In a manual motion, the piece of metal stretches and becomes a hanger. Under gravity laws, the parametrically designed textile partitions receive a three dimensional transformation. The wooden bag reacts to its varying content volumes and to hand movement inside.

Read the source article at News - NewsFiber
Medicine/Health
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Israel’s ‘medical weed wonderland’ draws US pot...

Standing on the rear balcony of a gray factory building off the side of a highway, Tamir Gedo shields his eyes from the blazing sun. He points to the 23 acres of agricultural fields spread out before him. "We'll be able to produce more cannabis here than the entire state of Colorado," he says. Minutes later, walking past the 8,000 square-foot storage room, he adds, "We can store enough in this warehouse to supply medical marijuana for the whole United States."With one million square feet of cultivation fields, a 35,000-square-foot production plant, and 30,000 square feet of grow rooms and labs, Gedo's company, Breath of Life Pharma (BOL), is about to open the world's largest medical marijuana production, research and development facility. According to Gedo's estimates, BOL will produce 80 tons – more than 175,000 pounds – of cannabis per year.A tour of BOL's new facility feels like a walk through the medical-marijuana version of Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory. With its patented extraction and purification equipment, grow rooms and germination labs, BOL will be pumping out pharmaceutical-grade cannabis tablets, capsules, inhalers and oils that are customized to treat certain ailments, with specific and controlled consistencies.And no, this isn't happening in Colorado, California, or anywhere near America for that matter. This medical weed wonderland sits in what might be the last place you would imagine finding the world's largest facility for medical marijuana: Israel.Over the past 50 years, Israel has become the epicenter of medical pot. Home to Raphael Mechoulam, the pioneer of marijuana research, Israel is where THC and the endocannabinoid system were first discovered. And with the world's largest number of clinical trials testing the benefits of medicinal cannabis, Israel has become the global destination for medical cannabis research and development. Now it is becoming the offshore greenhouse for American cannabis companies seeking to overcome the federal roadblocks standing in their way.Israel was among the first countries to legalize medicinal use, and is one of just three countries with a government-supported medical cannabis program. Though recreational use remains illegal, support for legalization is a bipartisan issue, with some of the most outspoken proponents coming from the right. Until now, Israel's role in this multi-billion dollar field has been limited to R&D. Yet now that the Israeli government has approved the export of medicinal cannabis products, companies there are hoping to gain a larger piece of the market. While importing cannabis into the United States is illegal under federal law, companies can get around that ban by receiving drug approval from the FDA – and that is exactly what Israeli companies hope to do. According to the FDA, nothing is stopping them, as long as they meet the agency's arduous requirements for drug approval.

While the FDA has approved three drugs containing synthetic cannabinoids (Marinol, Syndros and Cesamet, which treat symptoms of AIDS and chemotherapy), it has never approved a product derived from botanical marijuana. According to the agency's guidelines, "Study of marijuana in clinical trial settings is needed to assess the safety and effectiveness of marijuana for medical use." Yet initiating clinical trials on U.S. soil is difficult to the point of being nearly impossible. So, American companies are increasingly taking a shortcut: beginning phases 1 and 2 of their clinical trials in Israel, after which they will complete phase 3 in the U.S., speeding up the process through which they can apply for FDA approval of the botanical cannabis drugs they are developing.

Though this level of American R&D in Israel is new, Israel's impact on the American cannabis industry is not. The very fact that medical marijuana is now legal in 29 U.S. states and counting, is a direct result of Israeli research, which essentially legitimized the study of cannabis in the international scientific community that had long stigmatized it. Without this research, "We wouldn't have the scientific interest we have now around the world," says Paul Armentano, deputy director of the D.C.-based National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML). "That really opened the door to making the study of cannabis and cannabinoids a legitimate avenue for more conventional scientists and researchers."

"The seriousness with which the Israeli scientific community approaches this is incomparable," says Charles Pollack, director of the Lambert Center for the Study of Medicinal Cannabis at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia. "Israel is a hotbed of quality cannabis research, because they have a much more favorable regulatory climate for doing serious scientific research on medical cannabis."
Israel is becoming the offshore greenhouse for American cannabis companies seeking to overcome the federal roadblocks.

The Lambert Center is one of several American institutions that have partnered with BOL, collaborating on at least one of the more than 50 clinical trials the Israeli company will begin once its new facility is fully operational in late September. Of the 15 international companies that have already signed up to conduct their R&D at BOL's facility, at least six are American, and Gedo is in talks with more.

BOL isn't the only Israeli cannabis company benefitting from international interest. A growing number of American investors are getting on the Israeli cannabis wagon, which they see as the best vehicle for transforming the medical cannabis field, still in its infancy, into a pharmaceutical-level industry.

According to Saul Kaye, the founder of iCAN, an Israeli cannabis R&D firm, 2016 saw the investment of more than $250 million in Israeli cannabis companies and startups – half of that investment came from North America. Kaye predicts that investment will grow ten-fold over the next two years, reaching $1 billion. At least 50 American cannabis companies – and counting – have established R&D operations in Israel.

Israel's journey to the forefront of the medical cannabis field began with 86-year-old Israeli chemist Raphael Mechoulam, known in the field as the Grandfather of Medical Marijuana. In 1963, as a young researcher, Mechoulam secured 11 pounds of Lebanese hashish, which had been confiscated by his friend at a police station in Tel Aviv. He used that hash to identify, isolate and synthesize THC, the psychoactive compound in cannabis, for the first time in history, and study its medical uses. He was also the first to decode the structure of CBD, the plant's primary non-psychoactive ingredient. But Mechoulam's most groundbreaking discovery came in 1992, when he and his team at Hebrew University in Jerusalem discovered the physical reason humans can get high.

"It turned out that the cannabinoids in the plant actually mimic the compounds that we form in our brain," says Mechoulam, a professor and researcher at Hebrew University who works with several American cannabis companies. He and his team discovered that THC triggers the human body's largest receptor system, now known as the endocannabinoid system, and that the human brain produces its own cannabinoids – compounds that stimulate the body almost exactly the way THC does.

While Mechoulam's research is what first placed Israel on the medical marijuana map, the country's progressive attitudes toward cannabis, coupled with the Israeli government's liberal regulatory policies and the nation's technological leadership, are what have maintained Israel's status as the capital of medical marijuana research and development. It might also help that Israel has the world's highest ratio of marijuana users, according to Israel's Anti-Drug Authority, with 27 percent of the population aged 18-65 having used marijuana in the last year. That rate is followed by Iceland and the U.S., at 18 and 16 percent respectively.

While the Israeli government invests millions of dollars in medical cannabis research, the U.S. government makes the same research nearly impossible.

"There are onerous restrictions on conducting this research in the U.S. that don't exist in Israel," says one expert.
Despite the fact that 95 percent of the U.S. population lives in states where cannabis is legal in some form, marijuana remains federally illegal. This policy makes conducting research into the medical benefits of marijuana notoriously difficult on U.S. soil. Researchers who wish to do so must go through the DEA, the FDA and the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). Even when American researchers are given approval, they have only one source for their material: a cannabis farm at the University of Mississippi, operated by NIDA. The process, if successful, can take years."There's a lengthy and arduous regulatory process for getting approval for doing studies, and limited resources at these agencies for processing those requests," says Pollack, of Thomas Jefferson University. "It's deliberately made very difficult for us." In Israel, on the other hand, a cannabis clinical trial can get off the ground in a matter of months."I think they have approached the issue in a more even-handed and genuine way than the U.S. government has," says Armentano of NORML. "There are onerous restrictions on conducting this research in the U.S. that don't exist in Israel."This is precisely why many American researchers from universities and private companies are using Israel as an offshore research hub. For example, Pollack, from Thomas Jefferson University, will be conducting clinical trials at BOL's new facility. Since the trials haven't begun, he won't divulge details, but says they will focus on orphan drug indications, meaning they will be testing the benefits of cannabinoids on people with diseases that don't afflict many people in the U.S. (It also means that the clinical studies are smaller – and go faster – given that fewer patients are needed for these trials.) For that reason, he said, "Big pharma companies tend not to pursue them because there's not a big enough market for these drugs."Kalytera – a California-based company with a lab in northern Israel and Mechoulam on its scientific advisory board – is also focusing on orphan drug indications, conducting clinical trials at Israeli clinics and hospitals in order to bring to market a cannabinoid drug for the treatment of graft-versus-host-disease, which can happen after certain kinds of transplants.What institutions like Kalytera and Thomas Jefferson University do is they conduct the initial phases of their clinical trials in Israel, since it's much easier to get the process started here, and then they do the final stages in the U.S., since FDA approval requires that part of the study be done there. Once they reach the final stage (phase 3) it's much easier to conduct the rest of their study in the U.S., because they've already amassed enough data to show that it's safe. This is the ultimate goal for Kalytera, Pollack and other researchers in Israel: to speed track the process of conducting a clinical trial that meets FDA standards, thus shortening the journey toward FDA approval of their drugs.In addition to Kalytera, Mechoulam works with two other American companies, helping them develop new cannabinoid drugs and delivery methods out of his lab in Jerusalem, where he tests the specific properties, compositions and combinations of the cannabis compounds that are best suited to alleviate a specific ailment. American companies then use that research and data to manufacture cannabinoid drugs in the U.S.According to Saul Kaye of iCan, about 50 U.S. cannabis companies are conducting research in Israel through partnerships, joint ventures or by employing Israel-based researchers like Mechoulam. At least 15 American cannabis companies have set up their entire R&D operations on Israeli soil, conducting clinical trials, and developing the appropriate dosing forms and delivery systems for pharmaceutical-grade cannabis-based drugs. According to Michael Dor, senior medical advisor at the Health Ministry's cannabis unit, at least 120 clinicaltrials are currently under way in Israel to test the medicinal benefits of cannabis — more than any other country.
At least 15 American cannabis companies have set up their entire R&D operations on Israeli soil.
Cannabics, a Maryland-based, publicly-traded company, is conducting a clinical trial at an Israeli hospital in order to develop a capsule for cancer treatment. In 2015, One World Cannabis Pharmaceuticals, a public company based in Delaware, established an Israeli subsidiary overseen by Yehuda Baruch, the first head of the Israeli government's medical cannabis program, established in 2007. They are now beginning phase 1 of a clinical trial to test the benefits of a topical cannabis cream to treat psoriasis. Their next trial will study the efficacy of a soluble pill for the treatment of chronic pain. They eventually plan to conduct clinical trials on patients with multiple myeloma.Some Israeli companies have partnered with American companies to establish a presence in the U.S., where they sell products that were developed in Israel. For example, Tikun Olam, Israel's first medical cannabis distributor, opened an American subsidiary in 2016. It now sells its proprietary medical-grade plant strains at 10 dispensaries in Delaware and Nevada and will soon be available at dispensaries in Oregon and California. Their most popular strain is Avidekel, a non-psychoactive CBD blend used to help children with seizures.Some American researchers have even moved to Israel all together. Alan Shackelford, a Harvard-trained physician, was among the first American doctors to prescribe cannabis to a child. His eight-year-old epileptic patient Charlotte Figi sparked national interest in CBD after her miraculous story aired on CNN's Weed documentary in 2013.Yet after years of failed attempts to conduct clinical trials in the U.S., Shackelford recently established his own research entity in Israel because of his frustration with the American government's stonewalling."The U.S. government has funded $1.4 billion in marijuana research since 2008," says Schackelford. "Yet $1.1 billion of that went to studying addiction, withdrawal and drug abuse," problems that barely exist with cannabis when compared to the effects of other legal medications, like prescription painkillers, which killed more than 17,000 Americans in 2016.His research subjects in Israel will include the development of new delivery methods, he says, "because to date, most medical cannabis products no matter where you look in the world, are pot-culture derived. They're things like brownies, cookies, candy and smoking. Even with advances to these things being much more consistent, they're still not medically appropriate."While the U.S. government restricts American cannabis companies on U.S. soil, it does not prevent them from or penalize them for conducting their work in Israel. According to Robert Farrell, president of Kalytera, "The FDA has no problem with this work being done in Israel. When you file with the FDA, in the application you say, 'Look we've done the previous studies in Israel, gave the drug to this many patients, the drug is safe, it works, now we want to conduct a larger study with patients in the U.S.' If the FDA is satisfied with the data, they'll say, 'Go ahead, try it in the U.S.'"
The FDA will never get behind cannabis the plant as medicine, since it can't be controlled as a consistent drug.
Even the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has funded cannabis research in Israel. Indeed, much of Professor Mechoulam's groundbreaking research was funded by the American government. The NIH provided him with grants to the tune of $100,000 a year for over four decades, says Mechoulam.There is also nothing preventing Israeli companies from receiving FDA approval for their cannabis-based drugs, as long as they meet FDA requirements. In order to do so, they will need to develop the kind of products that are more in line with pharmaceutical standards, such as the kinds of capsules and inhalers BOL is developing.While that goal is feasible, Gedo and others admit that it will take time, perhaps several years, to achieve. The process of getting FDA approval is an arduous one, especially for a drug that has long been viewed with skepticism by the medical establishment. Yet it is these clinical trials that are taking place at a record pace in Israel, along with the advancement of pharmaceutical grade cannabinoid drugs, that will enable Israeli companies to eventually receive FDA approval for their drugs, or for the drugs that they are helping American companies to develop.As Gedo notes, the FDA will never get behind cannabis the plant as medicine, since it can't be controlled as a consistent drug that has the same effect day in and day out. After all, there are 140 active compounds in cannabis, and the composition of the flowers plucked from one branch can fluctuate wildly, by up to 300 percent. "The experience of a user will vary a lot with the same strain," says Gedo. "So even if you have the best-grown product, it will never become a scientific pharmaceutical product."This is precisely why the FDA has never approved a botanical marijuana drug, a larger problem than scheduling when it comes to drug approval. According to Senate testimony by the FDA's Douglas Throckmorton in 2016, who was citing a report from the Institute of Medicine, in order to obtain FDA approval, drug manufacturers "must demonstrate that they are able to consistently manufacture a high-quality drug product. This is an essential part of drug development and presents special challenges when the drug is derived from a botanical source, such as marijuana…. If there is any future for marijuana as a medicine, it lies in its isolated components, the cannabinoids and their synthetic derivatives."BOL and other Israeli companies are working to meet that challenge by developing cannabis-based drugs – the capsules, inhalers, creams and oils composed of isolated, controlled and consistent cannabinoids. Going this route, they could eventually receive FDA approval.While Gedo is optimistic, he's also realistic, knowing the complexity of the FDA's drug approval process, and the skepticism that remains among many in the medical establishment.Still, asked when Israeli companies might be exporting their cannabis medicine to the U.S., Michael Dor, of the Israeli Health Ministry says, "I believe it's not far."Read the source article at Rolling Stone
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Ancient inscription unearthed in Jerusalem, thrilling...

An ancient Greek inscription was found on a 1,500-year-old mosaic floor near the Damascus Gate in the Old City of Jerusalem. Byzantine emperor Justinian, who ruled in the 6th century A.D., is mentioned in the inscription, which was deciphered by Dr. Leah Di Segni of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. It reads: “In the time of our most pious emperor Flavius Justinian, also this entire building Constantine the most God-loving priest and abbot, established and raised, in the 14th indiction.” EXPERTS UNCOVER EVIDENCE OF ANCIENT JERUSALEM'S DESTRUCTION BY THE BABYLONIANS In a statement released by the Israel Antiquities Authority, Dr. Di Segni explained that the inscription commemorates the building’s founding by a priest called Constantine. “Indiction,” she noted, is an ancient method of counting years that was used for taxation purposes. The mosaic has been dated to 550 or 551 A.D - experts believe that the room was used as a hostel for pilgrims. The floor was discovered this summer during preparations for laying communications cables near the Damascus Gate. “The fact that the inscription survived is an archaeological miracle,” said David Gellman, who directed the excavation on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority. Gellman noted that ancient remains at the site had been badly damaged by groundwork in recent decades. “We were about to close the excavation, when all of a sudden, a corner of the mosaic inscription peeked out between the pipes and cables. Amazingly, it had not been damaged.” An important historical figure, Flavius Justinian was emperor when the later Roman empire completed its conversion to Christianity. He also established a large church in Jerusalem dedicated to Mary, the mother of Jesus, known as The Nea Church, also known as The New Church. The church’s abbot was Constantine, whose name also appears on the mosaic floor near the Damascus Gate. Di Segni notes that the mosaic floor inscription is similar to an inscription found in the vaults of The Nea Church. "This new inscription helps us understand Justinian's building projects in Jerusalem, especially the Nea Church,” she wrote. “The rare combination of archaeological finds and historical sources, woven together, is incredible to witness, and they throw important light on Jerusalem's past." LOST ROMAN CITY THAT WAS HOME TO JESUS' APOSTLES FOUND, SAY ARCHAEOLOGISTS The ancient mosaic inscription has been removed from the site and is being treated at the Israel Antiquities Authority’s mosaic workshop in Jerusalem. The discovery is just the latest fascinating archaeological find in Jerusalem. Archaeologists excavating the City of David in Israel’s Jerusalem Walls National Park recently uncovered charred wood, grape seeds, pottery, fish scales and bones and numerous rare artifacts that date back to the city’s demise at the hands of the Babylonians more than 2,600 years ago.Read the source article at Fox News
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To spur innovation, teach A.I. to find analogies

A method for teaching artificial intelligence analogies through crowdsourcing could allow a computer to search data for comparisons between disparate problems and solutions, highlighting important—but potentially unrecognized—underlying similarities. The method could enable A.I. to search through databases of patents, inventions, and researcher papers, identifying ideas that can be repurposed to solve new problems or create new products. As anyone who enjoyed watching TV’s MacGyver disarm a missile with a paperclip or staunch a sulfuric acid leak with a chocolate bar could tell you, analogies can provide critical insights and inspiration for problem-solving. Tapping huge databases of inventions could spur innovation, but doing so without the help of analogies is, well, like finding a needle in a haystack. Computer scientists solved the analogy problem by combining crowdsourcing and a type of artificial intelligence known as deep learning. By observing how people found analogies, they obtained insights they used to train computer software to find even more analogies. “After decades of attempts, this is the first time that anyone has gained traction computationally on the analogy problem at scale,” says Aniket Kittur, associate professor in Carnegie Mellon University’s Human-Computer Interaction Institute. “Once you can search for analogies, you can really crank up the speed of innovation,” says Dafna Shahaf, a computer scientist at Hebrew University. “If you can accelerate the rate of innovation, that solves a lot of other problems downstream.” The research team will present its findings in a paper at KDD 2017, the Conference on Knowledge Discovery and Data Mining, in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Analogies have played a role in any number of discoveries. Italian microbiologist Salvador Luria conceived an experiment on bacterial mutation—which later earned him a Nobel Prize—while watching a slot machine. The Wright Brothers used insights about balance and weight acquired while building bicycles to help them achieve powered flight. A trick for removing a loose cork from a wine bottle inspired an Argentinian car mechanic to invent a device to ease difficult childbirths. Finding analogies is not always easy, particularly for computers, which do not understand things on a deep semantic level like humans do. Researchers have tried handcrafting data structures, but this approach is time consuming and expensive—not scalable for databases that can include 9 million US patents or 70 million scientific research papers. Others have tried inferring this structure from large amounts of text, but this approach identifies primarily surface similarities, not the deep understanding that is useful for problem-solving. To pursue a new approach, Kittur, who has spent years studying crowdsourcing as a means of finding analogies, joined forces with Shahaf, who has specialized in computational analogies. Along with Shahaf’s doctoral student Tom Hope and postdoctoral researcher Joel Chan, they devised a scheme in which crowd workers hired through Amazon Mechanical Turk would look for analogous products in the Quirky.com product innovation website. Based on the product descriptions, they would look for those that had similar purposes or employed similar mechanisms. “We were able to look inside these people’s brains because we forced them to show their work,” Chan explains. A description for a yogurt maker, for instance, might yield words such as “concentrate,” “food,” and “reduce,” associated with its purpose and words such as “liquid,” “pump,” and “heating” associated with its mechanism. “In terms of analogies, this isn’t about yogurt, but about concentrating things,” he notes. Based on these insights, the computer could learn to analyze additional product descriptions and identify its own analogies, many of which reflected similarities between seemingly disparate products, not simply surface similarities. When crowd workers subsequently used the analogies to suggest new products, these “distant” analogies yielded the most innovative ideas, Hope says. The same approach could be used to tailor computer programs to find analogies in patent applications or scientific research papers. The National Science Foundation supported this research, as did Bosch, Google, and Carnegie Mellon University’s Web 2020 initiative.Read the source article at Futurity
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Israeli scientist develops early diagnostic test for...

The exciting news coming out of Israel, that a scientist has developed a groundbreaking test to categorically detect Parkinson’s disease, is giving the medical and science worlds hope for the future. Suaad Abd-Elhadi, a PhD student at the Institute for Medical Research Israel-Canada in the Hebrew University of Jerusalem Faculty of Medicine, has developed the lipid ELISA diagnostic tool. She won the Kaye Innovation Award for 2017 for the breakthrough invention of this highly sensitive kit that may lead to earlier detection of Parkinson’s disease, along with better tracking of the disease’s progression and a patient’s response to therapy. Parkinson’s disease is the second most common neurodegenerative disorder in humans, after Alzheimer’s disease. It is typically characterized by changes in motor control such as tremors and shaking, but can also include non-motor symptoms, from the cognitive to the behavioral. An estimated seven to 10 million people worldwide are living with Parkinson’s disease, with medication costing approximately $2,500 a year, and therapeutic surgery costing up to $100,000 per patient. Making an accurate diagnosis of Parkinson’s, particularly in early stages and mild cases, is difficult, and there are currently no standard diagnostic tests other than clinical information provided by the patient and the findings of a neurological exam. Once Parkinson’s is revealed, the disease is usually already progressing. “Earlier diagnosis can help by seeing how a given drug affects the progress of the disease, for example,” Abd-Elhadi told Haaretz. “A big problem is that early PD looks just like other neurodegenerative diseases, which hinders appropriate care,” she explained. “A great deal of effort is presently being put into delaying the progress of PD, for which purpose one needs to know that one has it.” The global medical field has long noted that one of the best hopes for improving diagnosis is to develop a reliable test for identifying a biomarker — a substance whose presence would indicate the presence of the disease. In the case of the lipid ELISA, the cellular secretion of interest is a specific protein called alpha-synuclein. ELISA stands for “enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay.” An assay is a procedure used in laboratory settings to assess the presence, amount and activity of a target entity, such as a drug, cell or biochemical substance. ELISA is a common assay technique that involves targeting cellular secretions. The alpha-synuclein protein serves as a convenient biomarker that is closely associated with the tissues where Parkinson’s disease can be detected, along with the neurological pathways the disease travels along, causing its characteristic symptoms. As a simple and highly sensitive diagnostic tool that can detect Parkinson’s biomarkers, the lipid ELISA could lead to a minimally invasive and cost-effective way to improve the lives of Parkinson’s patients, according to a Hebrew University statement. Abd-Elhadi has already demonstrated a proof of concept and is now in the process of analyzing a large cohort of samples, including moderate and severe Parkinson’s and control cases, as part of a clinical study. Through Yissum, its technology transfer company, the Hebrew University holds granted patents on the technology, and has signed an agreement with Integra Holdings for further development and commercialization. Abd-Elhadi is earning her doctorate in biochemistry and molecular biology. Under the supervision of Ronit Sharon, she conducts research that has been published in Scientific Reports and Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry.

Read the source article at ISRAEL21c
Agriculture
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Teaching the world how to make the desert bloom

At the Ramat Negev Agro-Research Center, acacia trees bloom, casting long shadows by the greenhouses, and fat pumpkins ripen on the ground. Everywhere you look, jewel-like cherry tomatoes dangle above the sand, on vines strung to wires, carefully irrigated and nourished. While tiny tomatoes have been around for centuries, certain varieties of cherry tomatoes – including the popular tomaccio – were developed in Israel back in the 1970s. Here they grow in abundance, as do sweet peppers of all colors – yellow, green, red, chocolaty-brown, and purple. The Ramat Negev Regional Council oversees this center, and agricultural experiments are conducted by onsite researchers as well as by scientists from Ben-Gurion University, the agriculture faculty of the Hebrew University, the Volcani Center, and elsewhere, in consultation with the Israeli Extension Service. It is a hotbed of innovation and discovery. “People come here from all over the world to study how we grow things in the desert and how to fight against the desert’s continuing conquest of their land,” Gadi Grinblat explains. It was here that scientists determined the importance, when irrigating with brackish water, of directing the water underneath the plant, so that it goes directly to the roots and doesn’t touch the upper parts. Otherwise, the salt in the water will harm the plants’ sensitive green leaves. Like most Israeli agricultural endeavors, the Agro-Research Center makes use of the drip-irrigation system, which was developed by the country’s Netafim company – the headquarters of which are also located in the Negev, at Kibbutz Hatzerim. Like the Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research, the Ramat Negev Agro-Research Center is happy to spread the word about its findings with the rest of the world. Israel’s MASHAV (Agency for International Development Cooperation) helps to make that happen through its agricultural/outreach arm, CINADCO (Center for International Agricultural Development Cooperation), and with the scientific research capabilities of the Volcani Center. Israeli agro-scientists are regularly sent out to demonstrate their findings, in Africa, Asia, Latin America, Central Europe, and the Middle East – and farmers and scientists from abroad are brought into Israel to study and share their knowledge as well. Not surprisingly, the focus is on Israel’s areas of expertise: growing food in semi-arid and arid zones, combating “desertification,” irrigation and water management, dairy farming, and strategies for the small farmer. The goals are vast and vital: to ensure food security and economic self-sufficiency. Lin Arison & Diana C. Stoll are the creators of The Desert and the Cities Sing: Discovering Today’s Israel, a treasure box that highlights Israel’s creative achievement and innovation.Read the source article at ISRAEL21c
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Hebrew U. conference explores history of Jewish names...

The conference was founded in 1991 by Bar-Ilan University Prof. Aaron Demsky, an expert in the field of Jewish names. Bar-Ilan University Prof. Aaron Demsky.. (photo credit:Courtesy) The Hebrew University of Jerusalem is hosting an international conference on the history and origin of Jewish names. The 13th biannual International Conference on Jewish Names, which takes place today at the Mount Scopus campus, features 20 lecturers and academics from Israel, Poland, Germany, Spain, the Czech Republic, Canada, Italy and the United States – all of whom study Jewish onomastics, or name studies, in their country of origin. The conference was founded in 1991 by Bar-Ilan University Prof. Aaron Demsky, an expert in the field of Jewish names. Demsky organized the event together with the 17th World Jewish Congress and the faculty of Jewish Studies and the Israel and Golda Koschitzky Department of Jewish History and Contemporary Jewry at Bar-Ilan University. According to Demsky: “This conference is a reflection of the interdisciplinary nature and relevance of Jewish names from multiple disciplines as well as the wide-ranging history of Jewish names from biblical times to modern Israel. “The conference will also place emphasis on Jewish communities in the Diaspora facing questions of identity... one’s name speaks volumes and an immigrant’s relationship to his birth name – especially when it is ‘different’ or ‘strange’ – reflects his relationship to his old and new cultures, old and new identities.” The conference’s content is presented in historical chronological order and is divided into six sections, starting with names in the Bible and Rabbinical literature, then early Diaspora Jewish communities in Italy and Spain, followed by early Ashkenazi communities in Germany and Poland, plus lectures highlighting the meanings of names in communities in Morocco and Baghdad. The latter half of the program focuses on the 18th and 19th centuries, and introduces the works of “gentile scholars who are interested in the study of Jewish names,” said Demsky. “For many of these speakers, this is the first time they are coming to Israel,” he explained. “This conference is not only about academics, but about building connections and making ties with gentile academics with an interest in this field of research.” Section five looks at contemporary Jewish names in the 20th century and how the establishment of Israel and revival of the Hebrew language allowed for the introduction and reintroduction of a whole new set of names for the Jewish and Israeli experience. The event will conclude with a lecture by Israeli author Haim Be’er, who will discuss how he chooses the names of his characters. Bringing the conference full circle, Be’er compares his process of naming characters to one of the first stories in the Bible. “Exactly like Adam, whose first act after his creation was to give names to all animals, birds and living creatures around him, so I, too, must face repeatedly the same dilemma: What name should I give to the characters of the novel that is taking shape in my mind? Name giving is an act that is more mysterious and obscure than revealed and obvious,” said Be’er.Read the source article at Jpost
Agriculture
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Preserving the Dead Sea, a Jewel for Future Generations

DEAD SEA, Israel – Sunrise over the Dead Sea is a magnificent sight. A soothing atmosphere surrounds this biblical landmark and mineral treasure. The Dead Sea is a natural wonder that is actually giving life, but this unique jewel is in danger of drying up. It sits on the Great Rift Valley between Israel and Jordan. Fed by freshwater from the Jordan River and mineral springs, it's one of the saltiest lakes in the world – so salty no fish can survive in it. Nominated as one of the Seven Wonders of the World, the water, mud and atmosphere have healing properties, but all this could disappear. The Dead Sea is dropping by five to eight feet a year. That means the lowest point on earth is getting even lower. Hebrew University Professor Avner Adin explained what's taking place and why there's only one way to restore the sea. "The reason is very, very simple," Adin explained. "On one hand …there is all the time evaporation of water, the surface is very large. On the other hand … the good water[s] from the upper Jordan were taken for irrigation to develop agriculture, to develop food for the people and [therefore] stopped reaching the Dead Sea. So the balance has changed." "What could save the Dead Sea is pouring water into the Dead Sea," he explained. Adin told CBN News a combination of solutions is the only way to help. "One way, which is the natural one, meaning let the rivers flow into it: don't take the water from the Jordan, from the other rivers…let it come back to its natural way," he said. "The other way is artificial, meaning making the Red-Dead Sea project, making it come true." Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority signed a Red-Dead Sea agreement to build a 140-mile canal from the Red Sea to the Dead Sea. The billion dollar project begins with a desalination plant to provide much needed water and power to Jordan and then drop the remainder of the water into the Dead Sea. "Another way that in parallel could be done would be … to take water from the Mediterranean and desalinate this water and give this water for drinking and for agriculture instead of taking water from the Lake of Galilee and from the streams," he said. But Adin knows it's not easy to get governments invested in saving the Dead Sea. That's why activists like Jacob Ben Zaken and Noam Bedein are sounding the alarm. "I want to see the Dead Sea restored," said Ben Zaken, who lives in a nearby kibbutz and gives the only boat ride available on the Dead Sea. "The purpose is to bring awareness to the Dead Sea – to the beauty, to everything that's going on, including the disappearing of the Dead Sea and the way to save it," he explained. Over a year ago, photojournalist Noam Bedein took the boat tour. "That touched me as an Israeli to speak up for this enchanted, prehistoric, biblical place – to stand up for it," said Bedein, who works as a Dead Sea sailing excursion guide. These salty pillars or chimneys may be stunning, but their appearance signals trouble. Bedein's photos show the drop in the water level in just one year. "I've been documenting this one-of-a-kind place like never before, going on this boat ride over a period of time and documenting the beauty, the magic of this place with the purpose to educate the next generation of this one-of-a-kind place, but also showing the dramatic changes of this place has been taking," Bedein said. The drop has also caused huge sink holes to open up along the shore, forcing beaches to close and a nearby road to collapse. The Dead Sea is a favorite tourist destination. It's so salty you can't sink – only float. But there's much more. In the Bible, a young David hid in the nearby caves of Ein Gedi. The Dead Sea Scrolls were found in the Qumran Caves, giving us the oldest manuscripts of the Bible. And the Dead Sea is actually giving life. The waters and air at the Dead Sea have special healing properties for skin and other ailments. Besides that, mineral mining yields potash and magnesium – key elements for fertilizer used in agriculture to feed the world. "So it's a very special diamond that we should keep it," Adin said. Biblical prophets also said that the Dead Sea would go through a change when the Messiah returns. Ezekiel prophesied that one day the waters of the Great Salt Sea would be healed and teaming with fish.Read the source article at CBN.com
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BioCanCell Announces Appointment of Ms. Ruti Alon to Board...

JERUSALEM, Aug. 14, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- BioCanCell Ltd. (TASE:BICL), a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on the discovery, development and commercialization of novel therapies to treat cancer, announced today the appointment of Ms. Ruti Alon to its Board of Directors. Frank Haluska, M.D, Ph.D., BioCanCell’s President and Chief Executive Officer, commented, “We are extremely pleased to welcome Ruti to BioCanCell’s Board of Directors. Ruti’s background and experience are an excellent fit as we prepare to launch two pivotal clinical trials of our lead investigational agent, BC-819, either of which may lead to registration in early stage bladder cancer. She has a distinguished record of leadership and accomplishment in finance and biotechnology, and she will bring her experience and insight to the strategic guidance of BioCanCell. The Board and the Company very much look forward to her joining us.” Ms. Alon is currently the founder and CEO of Medstrada. From 1997 to 2016, she served as a General Partner at Pitango Venture Capital, one of the most influential venture firms in Israel. Prior to her tenure at Pitango, Ms. Alon held senior positions with Montgomery Securities from 1981 to 1987, Genesis Securities, LLC from 1993 to 1995, and Kidder Peabody & Co. from 1987 to 1993, and managed her own independent consulting business in San Francisco in the medical devices industry from 1995 to 1996. Ms. Alon was the Founder and Chairperson of Israel Life Science Industry, a not-for-profit organization then representing the mutual goals of approximately 700 Israeli life science companies. She is also the Co-Founder of IATI, Israel Advanced Technology Industries, an umbrella organization to all high-tech and Life Sciences companies in Israel. Ms. Alon has a B.A. in Economics from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel, and an M.B.A. from Boston University. Ms. Alon commented, “I am truly excited to have the opportunity to join BioCancell’s Board of Directors. BC-819 has the potential to be the first of its kind DNA-directed cancer therapy. I look forward to being part of BioCanCell as it is targeting this serious unmet medical need.” Larry Howard, M.D., Chairman of the Board of Directors, added that “Ruti is a successful leader in the Israel biotechnology and life science industry. We will value her perspective and experience as she joins the leadership of BioCanCell.“ Ms. Alon’s appointment has been approved by BioCanCell’s Board of Directors. It will be finalized upon its ratification by a general meeting of shareholders in early September. About BioCanCell BioCanCell is a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on the discovery and development of novel therapies to treat cancer. The Company’s most advanced product candidate, BC-819, is in development as a treatment for early stage, non-muscle-invasive bladder cancer (NMIBC). Two registrational clinical trials of BC-819 are planned to be initiated in 2017: a single arm trial in patients whose disease is unresponsive to standard therapy, and a randomized trial, under a special protocol assessment (SPA) from the FDA, in patients who have failed a first course of treatment. For additional information please go to www.biocancell.com. Forward Looking Statements This press release contains “forward-looking statements” that are subject to risks and uncertainties. These forward-looking statements include information about possible or assumed future results of clinical trials, the anticipated effects of receiving Fast Track designation, the anticipated timeframe for conducting additional clinical trials and making regulatory submissions, and other strategic and business plans and objectives. These forward-looking statements are based on information BioCanCell has when those statements are made or its management’s good faith belief as of that time with respect to future events, and are subject to risks and uncertainties that could cause actual performance or results to differ materially from those expressed in or suggested by the forward-looking statements. These risks and uncertainties include, but are not limited to: the success of the approach to discover and develop prospective therapeutic products, which is new and may never lead to marketable products; a lack of history of commercial sales; a dependence on the success of BC-819, the development of which will require significant additional clinical testing before regulatory approval can be sought and commercial sales launched; a need to raise substantial additional funds to complete R&D activities; an ability to overcome scientific or technological difficulties that may be encountered and that may impede R&D activities; and an ability to obtain and maintain intellectual property protection for product candidates, including pursuant to licensed patents.Read the source article at Send Press Releases with GlobeNewswire
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Team redefines cosmic velocity web

The cosmic velocity web analysis was led by Daniel Pomarede, Atomic Energy Center, France, with the collaboration of Helene Courtois at the University of Lyon, France; Yehuda Hoffman at the Hebrew University, Israel; and Brent Tully at the University of Hawaii's Institute for Astronomy. "With the motions of the galaxies, we can infer where all of the mass is located: the galaxies and the 5 times more abundant transparent matter (usually wrongly called dark matter). This total gravitating mass, together with the expansion of the universe, is responsible for the motions that create the architecture of the universe. The gravity from galaxies alone cannot create this network we see," said Dr. Courtois. Dr. Tully adds, "Moreover, a wide swath of the universe is hidden behind the obscuring disk of our own Milky Way galaxy. Our reconstruction of structure with the velocity web is revealing for the first time filaments of matter that stretch all the way around the sky and are easily followed through these regions of obscuration." This definition of the cosmic velocity web was made possible by the large and coherent collection of galaxy distances and velocities in the Cosmicflows series. The current analysis is based on a study of 8,000 galaxies in the second release of Cosmicflows. The third release, with over twice as many galaxy distances and velocities is already available, and will reveal the cosmic velocity web in increasingly rich detail. The key element of the program is the acquisition of good distances to galaxies. Several methods are used, such as exploiting the known luminosities of old stars that are just beginning to burn Helium in their cores, and the relationship between the rotation speed of galaxies and the number of stars they possess. The observations have involved dozens of telescopes around the world and in space and at wavelengths from visible light through the infrared to radio. "The velocity web method for mapping the cosmos is analogous to using plate tectonics in geology. It helps understand not just the current layout of the universe, but also the movement of the invisible underlying masses responsible for that topology," said Dr. Courtois. The team has produced an extensive video demonstrating the cosmic velocity web. It first explains the concepts underlying the cosmic velocity web reconstruction, followed by a description of its major elements. The video then shows how cosmic flows are organized within its structure, and how the basin of attraction of the recently mapped Laniakea Supercluster resides within its elements. In the final sequence, the viewer enters an immersive exploration of the filamentary structure of the local universe, navigating inside the filaments and visiting the major nodes such as the Great Attractor. The 11-minute video is linked below and available at https://vimeo.com/pomarede/vweb. The 3-dimensional map can also be explored in an interactive visualization, using the free online Sketchfab platform. This is a powerful tool to visualize interactively the structure from any viewpoint and compare it with the distribution of galaxies; one can dive inside the filaments and explore them in immersion. With appropriate virtual reality hardware, it can also be used in VR mode. This visualization marks a milestone as the first time such an interactive dataset will be embedded in the online version of the scientific article appearing in the Astrophysical Journal. Everyone is invited to interact with the data below, or at https://sketchfab.com/models/754cb85550fb42588175f8a215718521. Explore further: A video map of motions in the nearby universe More information: Daniel Pomarède et al, The Cosmic V-Web, The Astrophysical Journal (2017). DOI: 10.3847/1538-4357/aa7f78Read the source article at Phys.org
Humanities
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The Secret To Happiness Is Giving Yourself Permission To...

Most science-backed shortcuts to happiness – like working out, smiling more and practicing gratitude ― focus on the positive, and they’re helpful indeed. But a new study concludes that for some people, embracing negative feelings may be one of the most powerful ways to feel happier overall. In a study published in this month’s Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, researchers surveyed more than 2,300 college-age students in eight countries including the U.S., Brazil and China. Students were asked which emotions they wanted to feel more and less of in daily life ― like love, anger and excitement ― and which ones they actually felt. They also answered questions that measured for depressive symptoms and overall well-being. Many students said they wanted to feel more pleasant emotions, like love and empathy, than they felt on a regular basis. However, 11 percent wanted to feel fewer pleasant emotions, and 10 percent wanted to feel more unpleasant emotions, like anger and hatred. Overall, study participants who actually felt the emotions they desired reported greater life satisfaction and fewer depressive symptoms. In other words, when their emotions felt right to them, they felt happier, even if the emotions they felt weren’t happy ones. It likely all comes down to which emotions you value as a person, according to main author Maya Tamir, a psychology professor at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. “For example, someone who feels no anger when reading about child abuse might think she should be angrier about the plight of abused children, so she wants to feel more anger than she actually does in that moment,” the American Psychological Association explained in a summary. “A woman who wants to leave an abusive partner but isn’t willing to do so may be happier if she loved him less.” If we are able to accept and even welcome the emotions that we have, whether they are pleasant or unpleasant, we are likely to be happier and more satisfied. Of course, the same emotions aren’t “right” for everyone, and the reason they feel right depends on a person’s social, cultural and personal values. Take anger, for example. ″...For a minority group member who seeks justice because people in the majority mistreat him, feeling anger may just be the right emotion,” the study authors wrote. “Whether an emotion is right, therefore, depends on the goals and needs of each individual... Whereas anger may feel right to some, it may feel wrong to others.” “Wanting to be happy or joyful all the time is not very realistic,” Tamir told HuffPost. “Never wanting to feel sadness or anger or fear is not realistic. If we are able to accept and even welcome the emotions that we have, whether they are pleasant or unpleasant, we are likely to be happier and more satisfied.” The study only analyzed one class of negative emotions, called negative self-enhancing emotions, which include hatred, hostility, anger and contempt. The authors suggested future research should be conducted on other negative feelings like fear, guilt and sadness. Next time you want a happiness boost, try listening to a sad song or having a good cry. Science knows it may be just what you need.Read the source article at HuffPost
Agriculture
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New peptide could help fight drug-resistant...

STORY: Drug-resistant superbugs are one of the biggest challenges to global health. Naturally-occuring antimicrobial peptides could be the key to fighting against these bacterial infections. Israeli researchers have synthesized the chains of amino acids. And they've found that they are best sequenced in a random mix. SOUNDBITE (English) SENIOR LECTURER AT THE INSTITUTE OF FOOD SCIENCE, NUTRITION AT THE FACULTY OF AGRICULTURE IN THE HEBREW UNIVERSITY OF JERUSALEM, DOCTOR ZVI HAYOUKA, SAYING: "There are many, many, many antimicrobial peptides that were discovered and isolated from many, many organisms and what we have noticed that there is no consensus sequence or consensus structure for this kind of motif." The team from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem found the peptides are very effective at stopping bacteria like superbug MRSA from growing. SOUNDBITE (English) SENIOR LECTURER AT THE INSTITUTE OF FOOD SCIENCE, NUTRITION AT THE FACULTY OF AGRICULTURE IN THE HEBREW UNIVERSITY OF JERUSALEM, DOCTOR ZVI HAYOUKA, SAYING: "When we exposed the bacteria to this kind of compound we can see that they have very good activity and they can inhibit the growth of bacteria very very easily of gram negative, of gram positive and also for superbugs that are really a huge threat in hospitals and many other indication." The peptides developed by the researchers are especially useful because their antimicrobial action works on all kinds of bacteria, regardless of their cell structure. SOUNDBITE (English) SENIOR LECTURER AT THE INSTITUTE OF FOOD SCIENCE, NUTRITION AT THE FACULTY OF AGRICULTURE IN THE HEBREW UNIVERSITY OF JERUSALEM, DOCTOR ZVI HAYOUKA, SAYING: "All the bacteria are divided for two main groups, the gram positive and gram negative that are different in their structure and what we observe that our compound can eradicate both of them very very easily." For now the researchers are testing their peptide compound on mice. They hope to begin clinical trials in the near future.Read the source article at uk.reuters.com
Science/Technology
NEWS

Astrophysicists predict Earth-like planet in star system...

The team investigated the star system Gliese 832 for additional exoplanets residing between the two currently known alien worlds in this system. Their computations revealed that an additional Earth-like planet with a dynamically stable configuration may be residing at a distance ranging from 0.25 to 2.0 astronomical unit (AU) from the star. "According to our calculations, this hypothetical alien world would probably have a mass between 1 to 15 Earth's masses," said the lead author Suman Satyal, UTA physics researcher, lecturer and laboratory supervisor. The paper is co-authored by John Griffith, UTA undergraduate student and long-time UTA physics professor Zdzislaw Musielak. The astrophysicists published their findings this week as "Dynamics of a probable Earth-Like Planet in the GJ 832 System" in The Astrophysical Journal. UTA Physics Chair Alexander Weiss congratulated the researchers on their work, which underscores the University's commitment to data-driven discovery within its Strategic Plan 2020: Bold Solutions | Global Impact. "This is an important breakthrough demonstrating the possible existence of a potential new planet orbiting a star close to our own," Weiss said. "The fact that Dr. Satyal was able to demonstrate that the planet could maintain a stable orbit in the habitable zone of a red dwarf for more than 1 billion years is extremely impressive and demonstrates the world class capabilities of our department's astrophysics group." Gliese 832 is a red dwarf and has just under half the mass and radius of our sun. The star is orbited by a giant Jupiter-like exoplanet designated Gliese 832b and by a super-Earth planet Gliese 832c. The gas giant with 0.64 Jupiter masses is orbiting the star at a distance of 3.53 AU, while the other planet is potentially a rocky world, around five times more massive than the Earth, residing very close its host star—about 0.16 AU. For this research, the team analyzed the simulated data with an injected Earth-mass planet on this nearby planetary system hoping to find a stable orbital configuration for the planet that may be located in a vast space between the two known planets. Gliese 832b and Gliese 832c were discovered by the radial velocity technique, which detects variations in the velocity of the central star, due to the changing direction of the gravitational pull from an unseen exoplanet as it orbits the star. By regularly looking at the spectrum of a star - and so, measuring its velocity - one can see if it moves periodically due to the influence of a companion. "We also used the integrated data from the time evolution of orbital parameters to generate the synthetic radial velocity curves of the known and the Earth-like planets in the system," said Satyal, who earned his Ph.D. in Astrophysics from UTA in 2014. "We obtained several radial velocity curves for varying masses and distances indicating a possible new middle planet," the astrophysicist noted. For instance, if the new planet is located around 1 AU from the star, it has an upper mass limit of 10 Earth masses and a generated radial velocity signal of 1.4 meters per second. A planet with about the mass of the Earth at the same location would have radial velocity signal of only 0.14 m/s, thus much smaller and hard to detect with the current technology. "The existence of this possible planet is supported by long-term orbital stability of the system, orbital dynamics and the synthetic radial velocity signal analysis", Satyal said. "At the same time, a significantly large number of radial velocity observations, transit method studies, as well as direct imaging are still needed to confirm the presence of possible new planets in the Gliese 832 system." In 2014, Noyola, Satyal and Musielak published findings related to radio emissions indicating that an exomoon could be orbiting an exoplanet in The Astrophysical Journal, where they suggested that interactions between Jupiter's magnetic field and its moon Io may be used to detect exomoons at distant exoplanetary systems. Explore further: Earth-like planet may exist in a nearby star system More information: S. Satyal et al, Dynamics of a Probable Earth-mass Planet in the GJ 832 System, The Astrophysical Journal (2017). DOI: 10.3847/1538-4357/aa80e2Read the source article at Phys.org
Medicine/Health
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Collagen in cartilage tissues behaves like liquid crystals...

The collagen changes its crystallinity in response to physical forces, so the ordered arrangement in collagen molecules of the cartilage in our knees may be flipping from one structural state to another with every step we take. The results, published in the journal ACS Nano, cast new light on how cartilage is able to withstand the demanding mechanical environment of the joint and may eventually help to explain why cartilage breaks down with ageing or arthritis. Dr Himadri Gupta, from QMUL's School of Engineering and Materials Science, said: "Pain and reduced mobility due to joint diseases currently affects over 8 million people in the UK, the majority of these aged over 65. With increasing life expectancy, understanding how to ensure healthy ageing is extremely important." Co-author, Professor Martin Knight, added: "The response of collagen to physical forces is critical to the function of cartilage in our joints and therefore understanding this behaviour may help us develop new strategies to prevent cartilage degradation." Articular cartilage lines the end of our bones and helps our joints move with minimal friction. It also protects the bones by cushioning the forces in our joints when we walk, run or jump. But in painful disorders like osteoarthritis, the cartilage becomes less resilient and breaks down which leads to joint pain and immobility. Using a special, intense X-ray beam from the Small Angle Scattering and Diffraction beamline (I22) at Diamond Light Source, PhD student Sheetal Inamdar measured how the collagen fibrils, which are more than a hundred times narrower than a human hair, deform and change their crystallinity when cartilage is repeatedly squashed and allowed to recover with forces similar to those produced by walking or running. The fibrils are thought to act as a restraining mesh, holding a jelly-like material composed of proteoglycans which help to make cartilage resilient to repeated compression. The researchers found that the fibrils show a sudden reversible change in their crystalline ordering a short while after the cartilage was compressed and that this change is due to an internal rearrangement of molecules inside the fibril. This previously unseen behaviour of the collagen fibres was completely changed when the tissue is degraded as happens in osteoarthritis. The researchers are now seeking to understand the effect of repetitive activity and injury in ageing cartilage, and the implications for cartilage health, supported by new funding from the UK Biotechnology and Biological Research Council. Explore further: Artificial cartilage under tension as strong as natural material More information: Sheetal R. Inamdar et al. The Secret Life of Collagen: Temporal Changes in Nanoscale Fibrillar Pre-Strain and Molecular Organization during Physiological Loading of Cartilage, ACS Nano (2017). DOI: 10.1021/acsnano.7b00563Read the source article at Phys.org
Medicine/Health
NEWS

Israeli study says Zika virus alerts spread too much...

Hebrew University study says information on the epidemic was at too high a reading level.Information about the 2015- 2016 Zika virus epidemic that was released by the World Health Organization caused confusion and even panic in the world because it was written for people with graduate-school educations rather than the common man.Also, press releases issued by the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) were found to be suited for high-school graduates but not people with less education.These are the conclusions reached by researchers at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, who studied health monitoring and communication during the recent Zika epidemic and have proposed ways for health authorities to better contain future epidemics.The researchers studied online trends, incidence and health risk communication during the spread of Zika in South and Central America and East Asia. The epidemic aroused great concern among the public worldwide, especially due to the fear of possible harm to fetuses whose mothers contracted the virus.The study, just published in BMJ Global Health, was led by international master of public health student Dr. Gbenga Adebayo, under the guidance of Dr. Hagai Levine and Prof. Yehuda Neumark and in cooperation with Wiessam Abu Ahmad, at the Hebrew University- Hadassah Braun School of Public Health and Community Medicine, and Dr. Anat Gesser-Edelsburg of the University of Haifa’s School of Public Health.Looking at the period between May 1, 2015 and May 30, 2016, the researchers analyzed Google search trends for Zika disease and related concepts, and correlated them with Zika incidence globally, in the US and in the five countries where the epidemic was most severe. They also examined communications from the WHO’s Pan America Health Organization and the CDC, including the contents of press releases, practical recommendations to the public, and how this corresponded to the public’s search for information online.The authors found press releases from the WHO and the CDC were reactive and hard to read; on average, 17 years of education needed in order to understand WHO press releases but only 12.4 years for CDC statements.In four of the five countries with the highest incidence, the researchers found very strong correlations between online search trends and the number of suspected Zika cases.This suggests that monitoring online trends can complement traditional surveillance efforts during Zika and other pandemics.The researchers also found that health authorities’ press releases were reactive in nature: they followed online search trends for Zika-related info, and their timing was delayed. This communication time lag represents missed opportunities for mitigating risk, controlling infection and alleviating anxiety.The content of press releases was not optimally adapted to the public’s needs and ability to understand.Ideally, materials for the public should have a much lower grade-level score; for example, patient education material should be written at a sixth-grade or lower reading level.Compared to WHO press releases, CDC press releases were shorter, with significantly lower word counts. Not only were they more readable, but also more likely to provide advice regarding risks, to provide contact details and links to other resources, and to include figures or graphs.The research has immediate implications for health organizations and reveals gaps in their preparedness for global epidemics. It indicates deficiencies in using the Internet both as a source of information and as a public outreach channel. The consequences can include missed opportunities to better contain the event, improve infection control and reduce public anxiety.The researchers recommend improving the readability of public health messages, by adding a “layman’s summary” and involving public representatives in assessing readability before releasing documents to the public. Press releases should also reiterate specific steps and behaviors people need to take to mitigate risks, and health communication should make their announcements early. The researchers also conclude that in times of public health emergencies, health authorities such as the WHO could work together with companies like Google to promote reliable sources of health information.“In the age of social media, press releases remain an important tool for communicating information to the public in times of health crises such as the ongoing Zika pandemic,” said Adebayo, a distinguished graduate of the Hebrew University- Hadassah International MPH program. “Press releases are the initial, and often the only, source of news for health and medical science journalists, and many news organizations reprint health-related and science-related press releases verbatim,” Adebayo said.“Creating trust between the public and health authorities is a key factor in the public’s perception of risk and the extent to which they are willing to act on official recommendations,” said Levine, the paper’s senior author and head of the environmental health track at the Hebrew University-Hadassah Braun School of Public Health and Community Medicine.“Mass media tools are continually evolving and public health crises can move with incredible speed. In this fast-paced environment, health authorities need to effectively leverage modern communications platforms in both directions: to communicate effectively with the public, and to monitor epidemiological trends and assess the public’s needs.Read the source article at Jpost
Science/Technology
NEWS

AI draws parallels between fields you never knew were...

Analogies are the comparison of one thing with another, most commonly with the goal of explaining or clarifying a certain concept. Like a well-chosen metaphor, a good analogy can be a great tool for people such as writers. However, it can also be crucial for problem-solving, since comparing separate problems or methods in this way can be used to highlight underlying — often times useful — similarities. For instance, a few years ago a car mechanic was watching a YouTube video showing how to extract a cork from a wine bottle when he struck upon using the same approximate method for helping babies stuck in the birth canal. Unfortunately, analogies are not the most straightforward idea for a computer to understand. As we turn to artificial intelligence to solve more and more of our problems, the need for software that can understand analogies, therefore, becomes more important. That is where a new deep-learning project from Carnegie Mellon University and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem comes into play. AI researchers there have created a means by which smart agents can analyze databases of patents, inventions, and research papers, and identify ideas which could be useful for solving new problems or creating innovative products. “Finding useful analogies automatically is very hard for computers,” Dafna Shahaf, a CMU alumnus and a computer scientist at Hebrew University, told Digital Trends. “Previous work relies heavily on hand-created databases, taking thousands of person-hours to create. Instead, we decided to try the data-driven approach. There are lots of idea repositories online, with millions of problems and solutions. We took advantage of recent advances in deep learning and AI, and found a lightweight way to learn, given a product description, a representation for what the product does, and how it does it. This allows us to ask questions such as ‘find me another product in the dataset that solves a similar problem in a completely different way’ and ‘find me another use for this product.’” This is not necessarily about handing over yet another sphere of human endeavor, though. In a test of the work, Shahaf said that human participants were tasked with problems in need of solving — such as extending the battery of a cell phone. “[The] people who were exposed to inspirations from our algorithm came up with significantly more creative ideas,” she said. “We could even see in some cases how the algorithm helped people explore more diverse parts of the design space — things they would not have thought of on their own.” The researchers will present their work this week at KDD 2017, the Conference on Knowledge Discovery and Data Mining, in Halifax, Nova Scotia.Read the source article at yahoo.com
Medicine/Health
NEWS

Health Scan: How long can bacteria wait out antibiotics?

“A take-home message from this is that it is important to complete a course of antibiotic treatment as prescribed, even after the disappearance of the symptoms,” Balaban explained. “Partial treatment gives tolerance and persistence mutations a selective advantage, and these, in turn, hasten the development of resistance.” In future studies, Balaban and her team will use MDK99 to study the evolution of tolerance in patients. Moreover, the ability to systematically determine the tolerance level of strains in the lab could facilitate research in the field. “If implemented in hospital clinical microbiology labs, MDK99 could enable the efficient classification of bacterial strains as tolerant, resistant, or persistent, helping to guide treatment decisions,” Balaban said. “In the end, understanding tolerance and finding a way to combat it could significantly reduce the ever-growing risk of resistance.” VISUAL ILLUSION COULD HELP YOU READ SMALLER FONTS Exposure to a common visual illusion may enhance your ability to read fine print, according to new research published in Psychological Science, a journal of the American Association for Psychological Science. “We discovered that visual acuity – the ability to see fine detail – can be enhanced by an illusion known as the ‘expanding motion aftereffect.’ While under its spell, viewers can read letters that are too small for them to read normally,” wrote psychological scientist Martin Lages of the University of Glasgow. Visual acuity is normally thought to be dictated by the shape and condition of the eye but these new findings suggest that it may also be influenced by perceptual processes in the brain. Interest in the intersection between perception and reality led Lages and co-authors Stephanie C. Boyle (University of Glasgow) and Rob Jenkins (University of York) to wonder about visual illusions and how they might affect visual acuity. “The expanding motion aftereffect can make objects appear larger than they really are and our question was whether this apparent increase in size could bring about the visual benefits associated with actual increases in size,” Boyle explains. “In particular, could it make small letters easier to read?” To find out, the researchers employed a tool that can be found in any optometrist’s office – the classic logMAR eye chart. On this chart, letters are arranged in rows and the letters become increasingly smaller and more difficult to read as you move down the chart. Optometrists calculate visual acuity based on the size at which a person can no longer reliably identify the letters. In two related experiments, the researchers presented a total of 74 observers with a spiral pattern that rotated either clockwise or counterclockwise for 30 seconds followed by a set of letters, which participants were asked to identify. The font size of the letters became increasingly smaller over subsequent trials. The experiment revealed that participants’ visual acuity differed depending on which spiral they saw. Participants who started with normal visual acuity and saw clockwise spirals – which induce adaptation to contracting motion and cause subsequent static images appear as if they are expanding – showed improved visual acuity. That is, they were able to identify letters at smaller font sizes after exposure to the clockwise spiral. Those who saw counterclockwise spirals – which induce adaptation to expanding motion and cause later images to appear as if they are contracting – actually performed worse after exposure to the spirals. A third experiment in which each participant saw both types of spirals over two sessions showed similar results: seeing clockwise spirals that induced an expanding motion aftereffect enabled participants to read letters at smaller font sizes. “We were pretty impressed by the consistency of the effect. No matter how you break it down – by letter size, by letter position – the performance boost is there,” according to Jenkins. “And there was a correlation with initial ability; the harder people found the task, the more the illusion helped them.” But don’t throw out your eyeglasses just yet: The researchers note that the overall boost to visual acuity is small and fleeting. Nonetheless, this common visual illusion reveals a fundamental aspect of how we see, showing us that our ability to discriminate fine detail isn’t solely governed by the optics of our eyes but can also be shaped by perceptual processes in the brain.Read the source article at Jpost
Science/Technology
NEWS

AI, crowdsourcing combine to close ‘analogy gap’

Specifically, they developed a way for computers to find analogies—comparisons between sometimes disparate methods and problems that highlight underlying similarities. As anyone who enjoyed watching TV's MacGyver disarm a missile with a paperclip or staunch a sulfuric acid leak with a chocolate bar could tell you, analogies can provide critical insights and inspiration for problem solving. Tapping huge databases of inventions could spur innovation, but doing so without the help of analogies is, well, like finding a needle in a haystack. Computer scientists at Carnegie Mellon and Hebrew University cracked the analogy problem by combining crowdsourcing and a type of artificial intelligence known as deep learning. By observing how people found analogies, they obtained insights they used to train computer software to find even more analogies. "After decades of attempts, this is the first time that anyone has gained traction computationally on the analogy problem at scale," said Aniket Kittur, associate professor in CMU's Human-Computer Interaction Institute. "Once you can search for analogies, you can really crank up the speed of innovation," said Dafna Shahaf, a CMU alumnus and a computer scientist at Hebrew University. "If you can accelerate the rate of innovation, that solves a lot of other problems downstream." The research team will present its findings on Thursday, Aug. 17, at KDD 2017, the Conference on Knowledge Discovery and Data Mining, in Halifax, Nova Scotia, where the research paper already has won both Best Paper and Best Student Paper awards. Analogies have played a role in any number of discoveries. Italian microbiologist Salvador Luria conceived an experiment on bacterial mutation—which later earned him a Nobel Prize—while watching a slot machine. The Wright Brothers used insights about balance and weight acquired while building bicycles to help them achieve powered flight. A trick for removing a loose cork from a wine bottle inspired an Argentinian car mechanic to invent a device to ease difficult childbirths. Finding analogies isn't always easy, particularly for computers, which don't understand things on a deep semantic level like humans do. Researchers have tried handcrafting data structures, but this approach is time consuming and expensive—not scalable for databases that can include nine million U.S. patents or 70 million scientific research papers. Others have tried inferring this structure from large amounts of text, but this approach identifies primarily surface similarities, not the deep understanding useful for problem solving. To pursue a new approach, Kittur, who has spent years studying crowdsourcing as a means of finding analogies, joined forces with Shahaf, who has specialized in computational analogies. Along with Shahaf's Ph.D. student Tom Hope, and CMU post-doctoral researcher Joel Chan, they devised a scheme in which crowd workers hired through Amazon Mechanical Turk looked for analogous products in the Quirky.com product innovation website. Based on the product descriptions, they looked for those that had similar purposes or employed similar mechanisms. "We were able to look inside these people's brains because we forced them to show their work," Chan explained. A description for a yogurt maker, for instance, might yield words such as "concentrate," "food," and "reduce," associated with its purpose and words such as "liquid," "pump," and "heating" associated with its mechanism. "In terms of analogies, this isn't about yogurt, but about concentrating things," he noted. Based on these insights, the computer could learn to analyze additional product descriptions and identify its own analogies, many of which reflected similarities between seemingly disparate products, not simply surface similarities. When crowd workers subsequently used the analogies to suggest new products, these "distant" analogies yielded the most innovative ideas, Hope said. The same approach could be used to tailor computer programs to find analogies in patent applications or scientific research papers. The National Science Foundation supported this research, as did Bosch, Google and CMU's Web 2020 initiative. The CMU AI initiative in the School of Computer Science is advancing artificial intelligence research and education by leveraging the school's strengths in computer vision, machine learning, robotics, natural language processing and human-computer interaction. Explore further: Structure-mapping engine enables computers to reason and learn like humans, including solving moral dilemmasRead the source article at Phys.org
Science/Technology
NEWS

Jerusalem start-up unveils next generation of iOS photo...

The company’s first two paid products, Facetune and Enlight, are two of the world’s most successful premium creativity apps, with over 11 million paid units sold. Enlight was Apple’s App of the Year for 2015, the #11 best-selling Paid iOS app in 2016, and was recently awarded the prestigious Apple Design Award at the 2017 WWDC. Facetune, a fun and powerful portrait retouching application, was Apple’s #4 best-selling Paid app in 2016 and was the #1 Paid App in over 130 countries. Before raising money through Carmel Ventures in its first equity financing round in August 2015, Lightricks was 100% bootstrapped, generating $10 million in revenues a year. In addition to leadership in its core imaging technology, the company builds proprietary user acquisition systems through access to controlled APIs, and serves as Facebook’s case study for user acquisition. In November 2016, Lightricks began pioneering subscription business models for mobile tools with Facetune 2 – following recent, major iOS platform policy announcements in which the company participated. Lightricks, whose story began four years ago in a small apartment in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Nachlaot, has grown from four to over 80 employees, complete with a state-of-the-art research team, in-house designers, a marketing team and expert developers at the top of their field, many of whom were handpicked from the reputable 8200 military unit. For those looking to unleash their inner artist, Lightricks’ new app, Photofox, is available for free on the App Store. Robot for any work place Kryon Systems new “digital employees” are a great addition to any department, optimizing work-flow so that their human counterparts can focus on the tasks that require more time and a human touch. After all, who hasn’t dreamed of having a team member whose role is to take care of the less thrilling parts of the job? Everyone these days is talking about robots. Bots of every size, shape and form, are impacting the way that just about every successful business operates. So it’s not surprising that the conversation has turned to the question of whether Robotic Process Automation (RPA), forecast to become a $2.9 billion market by 2021, will replace people in the workplace. Robotic Process Automation harnesses new technologies such as machine learning to create a “virtual workforce” of software robots that execute a wide range of the repetitive, humdrum tasks that office workers know all too well. Why does this matter to the average employee? Because employers hire their staff for their skills and human qualities that often get lost as their workloads are piled high with tedious, soul-crushing tasks that under-utilize their capabilities. Yet by offloading these tasks to a software-based robotic workforce, employees can be free to focus on the more important and creative elements of their jobs while enterprises focus on their core business – a win-win situation. “Success in business can no longer be separated from the use of technology, and businesses are increasingly utilizing a wide array of automation services and other solutions,” said Harel Tayeb, the CEO of Kryon Systems, a global provider of RPA services. “RPA in particular is making companies more efficient and productive while maintaining employee satisfaction, due to its ease of use and flexibility in the tasks and skills that it can handle. These new ‘digital employees’ are a great addition to any department, optimizing work-flow so that their human counterparts can focus on the tasks that require more time and a human touch. After all, who hasn’t dreamed of having a team member whose role is to take care of the less thrilling parts of the job?” App for everyone Israeli AppsVillage developed a new platform that enables small, medium and large businesses to create engaging professional Apps in a snap. It’s a platform that transforms Facebook pages into powerful mobile commerce Apps both for iPhone and Android in seconds. Businesses can now effortlessly transform their Facebook pages into powerful and engaging Apps, with AppsVillage handling all the back-end development both for Android and iPhone mobile devices. Just as businesses need to have a website and Facebook page, it’s also essential today to have an app. Many business owners find that creating an app is an extensive, complex and expensive process, taking weeks or months to complete and costing thousands of dollars. AppsVillage alleviates those concerns by allowing businesses to create easily powerful apps in seconds, while maintaining the branding and messaging they’ve built on social media with their customer base. Apps built on the AppsVillage’s website include powerful features such as push notifications, in-app purchases, coupons, appointment setting, cash back, Facebook ads and live chat to allow businesses to interact with their customers on a more engaged social level that will increase loyalty and revenues. Max Bluvband, cofounder and CEO of AppsVillage, said: “Business owners are experts in their own industries but they might not have the technological expertise to code and build apps. By going to our website, every business can easily turn its Facebook page into a powerful App within fifteen seconds. We want to level the playing field and help businesses of any size create an amazing app within three simple steps.” AppsVillage jump-starts a business’ app with all the necessary content from the business’s Facebook page, so each app has all the right branding and content already built-in. Business owners can easily manage their app without extensive coding, software, technical knowledge, or having to hire consultants and designers.Read the source article at Jpost
Humanities
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Hebrew University Launches World’s Largest Jewish Art...

The online Bezalel Narkiss Index of Jewish Art preserves the rich artistic heritage of the Jewish people throughout time and across the globeAugust 9, 2017 — The Center for Jewish Art at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem launched the world’s largest online database of Jewish art today at the World Congress of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem.The Bezalel Narkiss Index of Jewish Art is a collection of digitized images and information about Jewish artifacts from all over the world. The online collection includes more than 260,000 images of objects and artifacts from 700 museums, synagogues and private collections in 41 different countries, as well as architectural drawings of 1,500 synagogues and Jewish ritual buildings from antiquity to the modern day.The public can access the Bezalel Index of Jewish Art and start exploring the world of Jewish art at http://cja.huji.ac.il/browser.php. Amateur or professional researchers easily access more than a quarter of a million images, with accompanying details and descriptions, either by simple keyword search or according to such categories as Iconographical Subject, Origin, Artist, Object, Community, Collection, or Location.The Center for Jewish Art is the world’s foremost institution dedicated to the preservation of the Jewish artistic heritage. The Center’s activities include documentation, research, education, and publishing. Under the direction of Dr. Vladimir Levin, the Center has in recent years worked steadily toward completing the Index by photographing, measuring and painstakingly describing and categorizing each piece to be made available online to the public.“Jewish culture is largely perceived as a culture of texts and ideas, not of images. As the largest virtual Jewish museum in the world, the Index of Jewish Art is a sophisticated tool for studying visual aspects of Jewish heritage. We hope that making this Index available will lead to further in-depth study of primary sources, and serve as an enduring launching pad for the study of the historical and cultural significance of Jewish art for many years to come,” said Dr. Levin.The extensive collection contains over 100,000 entries in the Jewish Ritual Architecture category alone. “We cannot physically preserve all Jewish buildings everywhere, but we can preserve them visually through documentation and drawings,” said Dr. Levin.The Israeli government recognized The Bezalel Narkiss Index of Jewish Art as a non-tangible national heritage in 2012, and it is today considered the most comprehensive database of Jewish art in the world, existing as a virtual museum available to all.The digitization of the Center for Jewish Art archives became possible in the framework of a joint project with the National Library of Israel and Judaica Division of Harvard University Library. It was generously funded by the Rothschild Foundation (Hanadiv) Europe, “Landmarks” Program of the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office, Judaica Book Fund endowments established by David B. Keidan (Harvard), as well as by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, The Morris and Beverly Baker Foundation, Mrs. Josephine Urban, and Mr. William Gross.Professor Bezalel Narkiss was an Israel Prize laureate who established the Hebrew University’s Department of Art History in 1966 with his colleague Professor Moshe Barasch. In 1979 Narkiss established the Center for Jewish Art with the goal of creating a research center that focuses on investigating and preserving Jewish visual art. Since then, the Center has employed a small but dedicated group of professionals and graduate students who routinely go on documentation expeditions all over the world.On these trips abroad, researchers document six categories of Jewish art: Hebrew Illuminated Manuscripts, Sacred and Ritual Objects, Jewish Cemeteries, Ancient Jewish Art, Modern Jewish Art, and Jewish Ritual Architecture. Some of the pieces documented are no longer in existence but have a permanent place in the vast index that has taken more than 30 years to collect and six years to digitize. In some cases, the researchers were able to document an object just in time, such as right before a crumbling East European synagogue collapsed to its foundation, or a ritual object disappeared into obscurity at an auction.One such expedition that researchers from the Center went on occurred in Siberia in 2015. While researchers give extra attention to areas of Europe where Jewish communities were ravaged during World War Two and have inherited the worst crisis of heritage preservation in the aftermath of the destruction brought on by the Holocaust, the former Soviet Union’s Jewish communities in the far north have also fared poorly.Researchers on the expedition found that many synagogues, long since abandoned, were on the verge of collapse. Many Jewish cemeteries had been destroyed over the years or were in such a state of dilapidation and neglect that they were in danger of disappearing. While the expedition team worked tirelessly at documenting the objects that they could find, they also attempted to raise awareness among the locals of the importance of preserving Jewish heritage sites, not just for Jewish communities, but also as a significant part of their own history and culture.The Center has more exciting projects lined up in the coming months. The monograph Synagogues of Ukraine: Volhynia, by Dr. Sergey Kravtsov and Dr. Vladimir Levin, is due to be published this summer. “Historic Synagogues of Europe,” a joint project with the Foundation for Jewish Heritage, will be opened to the public in November 2017. It will offer, for the first time, an inventory of all of the historic synagogues of Europe, rating them according to their significance and condition, therefore providing a comprehensive and strategic perspective for the preservation of European Jewish heritage. 
Medicine/Health
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Mysterious Pediatric Neurological Disease Traced to a Single...

Scientists find that affected children’s cells are flooded with ribosomal RNA and are poisoned by it; the first time that an excess of ribosomal RNA has been linked to a disease in humansAugust 3, 2017 — In a new study published today in The American Journal of Human Genetics, a multinational team of researchers describes, for the first time, the biological basis of a severe neurological disorder in children.The extremely rare disorder is characterized by developmental regression and neurodegeneration. At first, the children lead normal lives and seem identical to their age-matched peers. However, beginning at around 3 to 6 years of age, the children display neurological deterioration, gradually losing motor, cognitive, and speech functions. Although the condition progresses slowly, most patients are completely dependent on their caretakers by 15-20 years of age.Researchers from the Hadassah Medical Center and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Faculty of Medicine, working with colleagues from the Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine and a multinational  research team, have now identified and studied seven children — from Canada, France, Israel, Russia, and the United States — who suffer from the disorder.The researchers found the same spontaneously occurring, non-inherited genetic change in a gene (named “UBTF”) responsible for ribosomal RNA formation in all the patients. Because of this small change, the patients’ cells are flooded with ribosomal RNA and are poisoned by it. Ribosomes are responsible for the translation and production of cell proteins and are made up of ribosomal proteins and of ribosomal RNA in a precise ratio.

Prof. Orly Elpeleg

The researchers found an identical error in the same gene in all the patients tested, representing a difference of one letter among the roughly 3 billion letters that make up human DNA. By finding the identical change in children who suffer from the identical clinical disease, the researchers determined that the altered gene is indeed the cause of the disease.Professor Orly Elpeleg, head of the Department of Genetics at Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem and a professor of Pediatrics at the Hebrew University’s Faculty of Medicine, led the multinational research. Professor Elpeleg credits the discovery to deep sequencing technology that Hadassah and the Hebrew University were among the first to introduce into clinical practice in the world and the first in Israel.Professor Elpeleg initially encountered the disease in a young girl who came to Hadassah: “Five years ago, I saw a patient who was healthy until the age of three, and then experienced a disturbance in her walking and motor function, speech, and cognition. Around that time, we had introduced the deep-sequencing technology for clinical use at Hadassah, which enabled us to read all the coding genetic material of a person within a couple of days, in order to identify genetic defects.” Since 2010, Hadassah has assembled the largest genetic mapping database in Israel, of about 2,400 patients.“Searching for similar genetic defects in this database, we found a 9-year-old boy who had been treated at Hadassah and now lives in Russia. The boy had been healthy until the age of five and then displayed neurological deterioration just like the girl I had diagnosed. Dr. Simon Edvardson, a pediatric neurologist at Hadassah, flew to Russia, examined the boy, took genetic samples from him and from his parents and confirmed that his illness was identical to that of the Israeli girl. We then knew we had identified a new disease that was not recognized in the medical literature,” said Professor Elpeleg.Comparing their data in a program called Gene Matcher, the researchers found several more children around the world who shared an identical genetic defect and the same course of disease.In order to understand the mechanism of the newly identified disease, the researchers collaborated with Dr. George-Lucian Moldovan at the Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine, in the United States. Dr. Moldovan confirmed the disease mechanism: in the children’s cells, there is an excess RNA of the ribosome, which probably causes brain cells to be flooded and poisoned.“Our study links neuronal degeneration in childhood with altered rDNA chromatin status and rRNA metabolism. It is the first time that an excess of ribosomal RNA has been linked to a genetic disease in humans,” said Professor Elpeleg.While there is currently no cure for genetic diseases of this kind, the identification of the exact mutation may allow for the planning of therapies designed to silence the mutant gene. “Science may not be able to repair the gene, but now that our findings are published, it may be possible to make early identification of the disease and in the future find ways to prevent such a serious deterioration,” said Professor Elpeleg.# # #The research was supported by the NIH.Citation: Edvardson et al., Heterozygous De Novo UBTF Gain-of-Function Variant Is Associated with Neurodegeneration in Childhood, The American Journal of Human Genetics (2017), August 3, 2017, doi: 10.1016/j.ajhg.2017.07.002 
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ajhg.2017.07.002 
Science/Technology
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HU Scientists Make a Splash with 3D Printing in Water

A new type of nano-photoinitiator could lead to advanced biomedical and industrial materials, along with more environmentally friendly printing processesAugust 2, 2017 — Researchers at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Center for Nanoscience and Nanotechnology developed a new type of photoinitiator for three-dimensional (3D) printing in water. These unique nanoparticles could allow for the creation of bio-friendly 3D printed structures, further the development of biomedical accessories, and drive progress in traditional industries such as plastics.

Hybrid nanoparticles as photoinitiators. a. Electron microscope image of hybrid nanocrystal. The inset shows a schematic of semiconductor nanorod with a metal tip. b. Bucky ball structure produced by rapid 3D printing in water using HNPs as photoinitiators. c. Spiral printed with HNPs by two photon printer providing high-resolution features. Adapted with permission from Pawar et al., Nano Lett. DOI: 10.1021/acs.nanolett.7b01870. Copyright (2017) American Chemical Society.

3D printing has become an important tool for fabricating different organic based materials for a variety of industries. However, printing structures in water has always been challenging due to a lack of water soluble molecules known as photoinitiators — the molecules that induce chemical reactions necessary to form solid printed material by light.Now, writing in Nano Letters, Professor Uri Banin and Professor Shlomo Magdassi at the Hebrew University’s Institute of Chemistry describe an efficient means of 3D printing in water using semiconductor-metal hybrid nanoparticles (HNPs) as the photoinitiators.3D printing in water opens exciting opportunities in the biomedical arena for tailored fabrication of medical devices and for printing scaffolds for tissue engineering. For example, the researchers envision personalized fabrication of joint replacements, bone plates, heart valves, artificial tendons and ligaments, and other artificial organ replacements.3D printing in water also offers an environmentally friendly approach to additive manufacturing, which could replace the current technology of printing in organic based inks.Unlike regular photoinitiators, the novel hybrid nanoparticles developed by Professor Banin and Professor Magdassi present tunable properties, wide excitation window in the UV and visible range, high light sensitivity, and function by a unique photocatalytic mechanism that increases printing efficiency while reducing the amount of materials required to create the final product. The whole process can also be used in advanced polymerization modalities, such as two photon printers, which allows it to produce high-resolution features.The research paper was featured in the American Chemical Society (ACS) Editor’s Choice, where ACS offers free public access to new research of importance to the global scientific community, based on recommendations by the scientific editors of ACS journals from around the world. ACS is the leading publisher of peer-reviewed research journals in the chemical and related sciences.Professor Magdassi is the Enrique Berman Chair in Solar Energy at the Hebrew University. Professor Banin is the incumbent of the Alfred & Erica Larisch Memorial Chair at the Institute of Chemistry at the Hebrew University.Researchers involved in this study are affiliated with the Center for Nanoscience and Nanotechnology and The Institute of Chemistry at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, in Israel, and the Institute of Systems Research and Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Maryland, in the United States.# # #FUNDING: The work was financially supported in part by the Israel Science Foundation and in part by the National Research Foundation of Singapore under the CREATE program.REFERENCE: Rapid Three-Dimensional Printing in Water Using Semiconductor-Metal Hybrid Nanoparticles as Photoinitiators. Amol Ashok Pawar, Shira Halivni, Nir Waiskopf, Yuval Ben-Shahar, Michal Soreni-Harari, Sarah Bergbreiter, Uri Banin, and Shlomo Magdassi. Nano Letters, June 15, 2017, doi: 10.1021/acs.nanolett.7b01870. Link: 
http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/acs.nanolett.7b01870
Humanities
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Emory students win Fulbright grants for research, teaching...

Abigail Holst, an Emory Scholar who won a 2016 Fulbright to teach English in Taiwan, was recently selected as the winner of the Outstanding Fulbright English Teaching Assistant Performance Award. This year, a dozen Emory students will travel across the globe to conduct research or teach English through Fulbright grants. Emory University will send a dozen students and recent graduates across the globe in the coming year as part of the 2017 Fulbright U.S. Student Program. They are among about 8,000 recipients nationwide for the flagship international exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government. Winners for the award, named after the late Sen. J. William Fulbright, are selected on the basis of academic or professional achievement, as well as demonstrated leadership potential in their fields. This year, 29 undergraduate students and recent graduates applied for the prestigious program through Emory College of Arts and Sciences and 12 masters and PhD students applied through Laney Graduate School. Of those applicants, 12 students who applied through Emory College and five who applied through Laney were named semi-finalists. A total of 13 Emory students — eight who applied through Emory College and five through Laney — were selected to receive Fulbright grants, but one Laney student has declined the award after receiving another fellowship. “We were excited to work with several Fulbright applicants from the business school this year, and our finalists represent a really stunning diversity of backgrounds, experiences and academic disciplines,” says Megan Friddle, director of Emory’s National Scholarships and Fellowships Program. “The common quality in each of these finalists is an ability to articulate not only the impact that the Fulbright experience will have on each of them as individuals, but also the impact they hope to have through their work — as researchers, teachers and volunteers — in their host communities,” she adds. James Hughes, director of advanced student fellowships at Laney Graduate School, notes that the school is committed to students' professional development, including emphasis on developing and nurturing grant-writing skills. “We have a robust grant-writing program with specific sessions dedicated to preparing our students to be competitive in the Fulbright application process,” Hughes says. “We continue to see success with this approach, and I am pleased to share that we have five Laney awardees this year. These students represent a range of disciplines, and Fulbright support will take them to destinations across the globe.” All of the Fulbright winners who applied through Laney Graduate School were selected to conduct research projects: Haigh, who also earned a master of theological studies degree from Candler in 2016, will spend her Fulbright year at Hebrew University in Jerusalem studying the War Scroll, one of the first Dead Sea Scroll manuscripts to be discovered in 1947 in caves around Khirbet Qumran, the location of a religious sect that coexisted alongside early Christianity. Haigh’s project, "Desert Drama: The War Scroll as a Performance Text," will draw on the field of performance studies through orality and textual analysis to consider how the scroll’s disparate elements — made up of ritual, descriptive, narrative and liturgical material — might be holistically understood. “My project will hopefully lay the groundwork for further research on the performativity of Dead Sea Scroll texts and expand the ways we might imagine these texts functioning, as well as shaping the community’s sense of identity,” she says. Two of the winners who applied through Emory College – Thomas “Hugh” McGlade and Morika Hensley – will also conduct research abroad through Fulbright Study/Research grants, which required they design a proposal for research or coursework in a specific country. McGlade, a Connecticut native who graduated with highest honors in May with a degree in history and international studies, is headed to Brazil. His Fulbright will allow for further research from his honors thesis investigating the U.S.-Brazilian hunger alleviation program that operated in Brazil during World War II. McGlade, an IDEAS Fellow and undergraduate fellow at the Fox Center for Humanistic Inquiry during his undergraduate tenure, will also enroll as a graduate student in history at the Fundação Getúlio Vargas (FGV) in Rio de Janeiro. He plans to complete two courses and produce a manuscript of a journal article on his work. “My primary goal for my time in Brazil is to meet people. For the last three years, I have researched and written extensively about Brazil from afar,” McGlade says. “While I have been lucky to travel there twice (thanks to Emory funding), I have never spent an extended period of time in the country. After the Fulbright, I plan to return to a management consulting job in the U.S., but I have a hunch that I will return to teaching and research.” Hensley is the first student to graduate from Emory’s new BS/MS program in environmental sciences. She completed her bachelor’s degree in 2016 and earned her master’s degree in May, completing a thesis on the patterns of conflict and coexistence between agro-pastoralists and snow leopards in Ladakh, India. The winner of the 2014 Excellence in Tibetan Award, Hensley will use her Fulbright to examine the relationship between sacred art images (especially in monastic wall paintings) and environmental awareness and engagement in Tibetan Buddhist communities in India. This project also gives the New Mexico native the opportunity to explore intersections of religious philosophy and ecology/conservation biology, disconnects between cultural classification systems, and the place of subjectivity in research. “I first decided to come to Emory in large part because of the Emory-Tibet Partnership and the many learning opportunities it offered. In short, Emory has been absolutely central in this journey, and will continue to be,” says Hensley, who plans to remain involved in the Emory-Tibet Science Initiative and similar programs that emphasize an interdisciplinary approach to science and religious philosophy following her Fulbright. Morika Hensley, shown here on a previous research trip to Ladakh, India, will use her Fulbright to examine the relationship between sacred art images and environmental awareness and engagement in Tibetan Buddhist communities in India. The remaining students who applied for Fulbrights through Emory College will work in the Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship, which places them in schools overseas to supplement local English language instruction and to provide a native speaker in classrooms. Those students and their assigned country are as follows: Hesse, a native of suburban Atlanta who served as co-director of Camp Kesem Emory and won the Sprachpreis for German Language Acquisition, will teach at the elementary level during her Fulbright. She hopes to instill the same passion for acquiring a new language that she gained at Emory, where studying abroad in Vienna gave her a new appreciation for the German language and tutoring in German revealed a talent for teaching. But she also is interested in research. “I look forward to learning more about how Germany handles the influx of immigrants and refugees it has had coming in since 2015 and I look forward to doing my part by working with organizations that deal with the issues of a seamless entrance into a new culture, society and language,” Hesse says. Future plans include applying that knowledge in a public health or anthropology program in Germany or the United States, she adds. “I am honored to be a Fulbright scholar, and I know that the investments my professors, parents and friends put in me have helped me to get where I am,” she says. Meanwhile, an Emory Scholar who won a 2016 Fulbright to teach English in Taiwan was recently selected as the winner of the Outstanding Fulbright English Teaching Assistant Performance Award. Abigail Holst, who graduated in 2016 with high honors in Chinese and a double major in human health, was recognized for her exemplary service outside the classroom as well as her work with more than 500 first-grade through sixth-grade students at two elementary schools in Taichung. The Fulbright Foundation for Scholarly Exchange honored Holst based on classroom observations, biweekly reports, participation in teaching workshops and Fulbright events and community service. Holst, a Dean’s Achievement Scholar who received multiple fellowships and an independent research grant during her undergraduate tenure, completed her Fulbright term at the end of June.Read the source article at Emory News Center
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Astounding drug-testing tech simulates liver, heart, brain

After spending an average of $2.5 billion to develop a single new drug, sometimes pharma companies have to pull it from the market due to a bad outcome that was not detected in clinical studies. That’s what happened in 2000, when a promising Type 2 diabetes drug called troglitazone led to idiosyncratic (unexplained) liver damage in one of every 60,000 users. The troglitazone mystery wasn’t solved until March 2016, when a novel “liver-on-a-chip” platform developed by Hebrew University of Jerusalem Prof. Yaakov Nahmias revealed what no animal or human tests could: even low concentrations of this drug caused liver stress before any damage could be seen. “It was the first time an organ-on-chip device could predict information to help pharmaceutical companies define risk for idiosyncratic toxicity,” Nahmias tells ISRAEL21c. Shortly before that study, Nahmias’ liver-on-a-chip had revealed a new mechanism for acetaminophen (Tylenol) poisoning. Given that about 16 percent of all FDA-approved drugs eventually show unexpected toxicity, Nahmias recognized the potential of his smart human-on-a-chip platform. He licensed the technology from the university and spun off Tissue Dynamics to provide toxicology analysis of drugs and cosmetics. L’Oréal was Tissue Dynamics’ first customer in October 2016. Major brands such as Unilever are expected to follow suit as they seek alternative models to evaluate new products now that European laws prohibit cosmetics makers from animal testing. Tissue Dynamics’ liver-on-a-chip – as well as heart and brain chips coming soon – could greatly reduce the number of animal tests, the amount of time for drug evaluation and the astronomical cost of drug development. Not to mention the billions that pharma companies pay in damages when a drug proves harmful. As a young faculty member at Harvard Medical School in 2009, Nahmias built the technology for one of the first human-on-a-chip companies, HuREL. So he is confident that Tissue Dynamics — the first human-on-a-chip company in Israel and one of few in the world — can do what none of the others can do. “All of the other companies are focused on mimicking animal experiments. They place cells in a device, give it drugs and then open it to look at damage or death, which is what people are used to doing with lab animals,” Nahmias explains. “This is a major disadvantage because those human-on-chip models can only find the type of damage you predict is going to happen. It doesn’t find the unexplained responses, and that’s the biggest problem for the pharmaceutical sector. We are unique in the field because no other model can even start to predict idiosyncratic damage.” He explains that when a drug or protein is introduced to the Tissue Dynamics system, the changes they cause to the simulated cell are monitored in real time. “If the change is fast, we know the drug introduced direct damage. If it happens over several hours we know the damage accumulates like in fatty liver disease,” says Nahmias. Nahmias won a $2.3 million European Research Council grant last September to develop the next generation of his liver-on-chip system, which mimics circadian rhythms –the daily ebb and flow of human metabolism. “If we could generate a model for human metabolism that mimics complex physiology, we could develop drugs for obesity, diabetes or fatty liver disease that are impossible to develop today,” he says. Tracking circadian dynamics will allow Tissue Dynamics to predict time-dependent toxicity — the best and worst times to give a drug based on the fluctuation of the enzymes that break down the drug in the body. Pharma companies currently do not have this information. In 2018, the company expects to offer chips simulating a pumping human heart and a human brain that has functional neurons embedded with vasculature. “Our goal is to have these three major organs, which are the target of a lot of drugs. In 2019 we will complete a large facility for manufacturing the chips,” Nahmias tells ISRAEL21c. “There is a lot of interest.” Since that initial liver-on-a-chip was built in 2015, his lab has increased capacity and added more sensors and optimized controls. A complete metabolic analysis of a drug molecule that used to take about three months now takes about a week. Although human-on-a-chip offers many advantages over animal models, Nahmias does not believe this novel screening technology will replace lab animals completely. “In animals we can look at specific neuronal damage and behavioral changes that we can’t really mimic on a chip. A chip can’t feel pain or behave erratically,” he says. “However, we can probably drastically reduce the number of animal experiments. We could screen half a million different drug molecules through our system, and only those that work at the least concentration and cause the least damage could be taken to animal testing.” Nahmias is chief scientific officer of Tissue Dynamics, whose six-person staff includes CEO Ayelet Dilion Mashiah. He also directs the Alexander Grass Center for Bioengineering at the Hebrew University and won several prizes for his internationally recognized work in tissue engineering and nanotechnology. For more information, click hereRead the source article at ISRAEL21c
Humanities
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An exciting conversation with Rabbi Steinsaltz –...

President Reuven Rivlin called Rabbi Adin Even-Israel Steinsaltz Sunday to congratulate the rabbi and wish him good health on his 80th birthday. Rabbi Steinsaltz is considered one of the great rabbinical commentators and scholars of this generation, and has written numerous world-renowned commentaries on the Bible, the Talmud, and many other religious Jewish texts. Rabbi Steinsaltz suffered a stroke six months ago. The rabbi recently returned to work, to the joy and relief of his students and colleagues. An event was held earlier this month in celebration of the release of Rabbi Steinsaltz's new commentary of the works of the Rambam (Maimonides). President Rivlin called Rabbi Steinsaltz by the title for Torah sages, "our teacher and rabbi." The president noted that he had learned Talmud in his youth, but not as much as he would have liked. "Had there been a Steinsaltz edition of the Talmud when I was young, we would have learnt much more Talmud at the Hebrew Gymnasium school in Jerusalem." The president concluded the conversation with a blessing: "Congratulations, and you should have many more productive and good years, first of all with good health, as well as wisdom and the continued ability to learn, to teach, and to glorify the Torah in Israel. Those in the room during the conversation said that the rabbi was very moved by the president's words and warm wishes. Rabbi Adin Even Yisrael-Steinsaltz was born in Jerusalem in 1937 to a secular family. He studied chemistry and physics at the Hebrew University, worked as a school principal, became observant and chose to focus on the writing of Jewish books on various subjects, the most famous of which was the 'Steinzaltz Talmud,' a commentary on all 2,711 pages of the Babylonian Talmud. Rabbi Steinsaltz received the Israel Prize for Jewish studies in 1988 and the President's Prize for his scholarship in Talmud from former President Shimon Peres in 2012.Read the source article at Israel News
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China, India, and Israel’s Strategic Calculus

Trans-Pacific View author Mercy Kuo regularly engages subject-matter experts, policy practitioners, and strategic thinkers across the globe for their diverse insights into U.S. Asia policy. This conversation with Dr. Yitzhak Shichor – Professor Emeritus and The Michael William Lipson Chair in Chinese Studies at The Hebrew University in Israel – is the 101st in “The Trans-Pacific View Insight Series.”Assess key outcomes of Indian Prime Minister Narenda Modi’s recent visit to Israel.To appreciate the full significance of Modi’s visit, one has to know the history of Israel-India relations. Reluctantly, India recognized Israel on September 18, 1950, the fifth Asian country [to do so], but, because no full diplomatic relations were approved for over 40 years, Israel was unofficially represented by an honorary consul in Calcutta. Yet, the two countries maintained backdoor relations, which included Israeli military shipments following the 1962 Sino-Indian confrontation. Because of its rivalry with Pakistan, substantial Muslim population, and dependence on Arab oil, India preferred to hide these relations.In fact, India, and Asia in general, had not been that important for Israel before the early 1990s. By that time, India could no longer fall behind China, which set up relations with Israel and thereby facilitated its breakthrough to Asia. Since then India’s relations with Israel have prospered, with India becoming Israel’s leading arms market and a substantial economic partner. Yet, no Indian leader had dared set foot in Israel until Modi’s arrival. Needless to say, scores of framework agreements were signed but because military and economic relations have been going on anyway, and because India has hardly changed its political orientation and association with the Arabs and the Palestinians, the main outcome of the visit, and still the most significant, was symbolic.What is the potential impact of closer Israeli-Indian strategic cooperation on China?Little impact, if any, is expected in politics since both China and India still side with the Arabs and the Palestinians and have hardly supported Israel in international organizations. It may affect military relations. Under U.S. pressure, Israel was forced to stop arms sales to China, following which India has become its main client. Fully aware of these military transactions, Beijing has usually and publicly kept quiet about it and failed to criticize Israel. Actually, Israel’s arms sales to India have legitimized China’s arms sales to Iran and other Middle Eastern countries. However, there are indications that Beijing is beginning to take the Indian threat more seriously than before, which means that the Chinese may become more sensitive to the Indo-Israeli military nexus and, therefore, apply pressure on Israel to stop or restrict arms shipments to India. Beyond this, India becomes a significant player in the trilateral economic competition.What factors precipitated the shift toward stronger relations between India and Israel?Initially, it was Beijing’s decision to establish diplomatic relations with Israel, as well as the Soviet collapse, which had driven India to establish official relations with Israel. They have been given a boost over the last few years by India’s realization that politics could be separated from economics; governments could continue supporting the Arabs and the Palestinians and still enjoy good technological and economic relations with Israel. Also, the virtual disintegration of the Arab Middle East; the never-ending conflicts and confrontations; and the emergence of Islamic radicalism and terrorism (that have also affected India), underline Israel as a democratic island of stability and as a source of mutually beneficial cooperation. For Israel, India represents a huge economic and military market that, together with China, offers Israel access to nearly half of the world population, which had been beyond its reach before.As Beijing enhances China’s leadership role in the Middle East, and Israel strengthens ties to India, what is Israel’s strategic calculus?Unlike most observers, I don’t think that “Beijing enhances China’s leadership role in the Middle East,” definitely not in political terms. Beijing is still careful to avoid becoming involved, least of all mediate, in regional conflicts. Its participation in UN peacekeeping forces, special envoy to the Middle East, evacuation of Chinese nationals from conflict zones (Libya, Sudan, Yemen), and cooperation in anti-piracy operations, do not reflect greater involvement, let alone leadership, and still indicate a low profile and limited commitment. In fact, these triangular relations (Israel, China, India) are predicated on the assumption of little external intervention in the conflict. In this respect, Jerusalem’s strategic calculus – implicitly shared by India and China – is to pay lip service to politics (including the absorption of anti-Israel votes in international organizations, which are mostly meaningless anyway) and gain trilateral benefits from economic and military relations.Explain the U.S.-Israel dynamic in the Israel-China-India nexus.Willingly or not, Israel is heavily dependent on the United States, for better or worse. Israel’s military transfers to China began in the late 1970s, with Washington’s knowledge, approval, and perhaps encouragement. Israel served as a convenient proxy to make Beijing stronger against Moscow, which warned the U.S. not to arm China. Yet, following the Soviet collapse China, no longer an unofficial ally, has become a “threat.” Israel was now forced to stop providing China with arms and military technology and this prohibition has affected much of Israel’s civilian (or dual-use) hi-tech exports to China. Today, the U.S. is the main obstacle to expanding Israel’s relations with China. No such U.S. limitations apply to India. Put differently, the future of Israel-China relations depends to a great extent on the future of U.S.-China relations. Beijing is fully aware of Israel’s predicament and of the inconceivable cost Israel would have to pay for resuming military relations with China.Read the source article at The Diplomat Magazine
Science/Technology
NEWS

The Startup Nation is switching to AI

While our exposure to technology is often more novel than anything -- like a program that recognizes your friends and tags them in a picture -- small tweaks may turn the mundane into something life-changing. Intel is partnering with Israeli startup MobileODT, a company that created a smartphone app to diagnose cervical cancer. Together, both businesses are searching for (and challenging) developers to arrive at an algorithm that, based on images, accurately identifies women’s cervix types. If successful, the effort could save the lives of millions of women around the world who don’t have access to adequate medical care.The Epicenter Of InnovationSaul Singer’s book Start-up Nation inspired the view of Israel as an enigma in innovation, and around the world, people are looking to learn from Israel in its attempts to construct better tech ecosystems. I went to Israel not only to be inspired, but to also meet with the Israel Innovation Authority and seek out the next opportunities in the sphere of artificial intelligence. Israel is reaping the benefits from all the large global tech companies that are setting up research and development centers there, and corporate technology groups from the U.S. provide a great opportunity for Israeli entrepreneurs.On my trip, I met with renowned USB flash drive inventor Dov Moran, whose $100 million fund, Grove Ventures, backs early-stage Israeli startups pursuing new technologies in the hard sciences of AI and the IoT and aims to find the next set of entrepreneurs and the next Mobileye. He’s in the right place. There are 94 Israeli businesses with an aggregate market cap of $70 billion that appear on the Nasdaq, and Israeli tech companies and startups sold for more than $10 billion in 2016, up 12% from the previous year.
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In a discussion I had with Morgan Stanley’s chief business technology officer, Tsvi Gal, he said, “When it comes to artificial intelligence, the real breakthrough is in the soft AI space and the ability to add or extract meaning from vast quantities of previously ‘noisy’ data. For the first time in history, machines have started to mimic human cognitive behavior.” In other words, it’s the dawn of machine intelligence, comprised of myriad tech advances that represent a new cognitive era. The marriage of machines and man is here, and it's taking hold in Israel.
AI In IsraelIsrael has been a world leader in the billion-dollar global drone industry, primarily in the areas of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. Israelis are improving on drone technology learned through military service, and the area is poised for a major disruption. Likewise, the autonomous vehicle industry, which ARK predicts could be worth $10 trillion by the early 2030s, is an area where Israeli companies are demonstrating leadership. Mobileye is a perfect example. It was founded in 1999 and was recently acquired by Intel for more than $15 billion.Via represents another disruption to traditional transportation and is Uber’s closest competition. The company’s complex ride-sharing software represents the future of public transportation, building on an immense amount of rider data that grows daily. Via's partnership with Keolis has allowed it to bring its service to a broader market, including Paris.Read the source article at Forbes Welcome
Science/Technology
NEWS

Israel’s vital contributions to nanotechnology

Yeshayahu Talmon is a chemical engineer and former director of the Russell Berrie Nanotechnology Institute (RBNI) at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, in Haifa. A frequent spokesman for the industry, he answers even laymen’s questions patiently and lucidly, and offers positive news about Israel as a “nucleus” for nanoscience. “Nanoscience is the science of everything that happens on that very small scale. Now, technology is being developed to take that science and apply it,” says Talmon. “One example of applications we are working with at the Russell Berrie Nanotech Institute is carbon nanotubes. Carbon nanotubes are only one to two nanometers thick, but the single particle is extremely strong. And in some forms, they are very good electrical conductors, and they are lightweight . . . so in principle they could be the material of the future. “However, in most cases, we cannot use them as single nanoparticles, so somehow we have to spin fibers out of them, and this is a challenge. (Sometimes, although it all works very well on a basic scientific level, when you try to make it into a process, things become more complicated.) “Another example of how the technology is applied is graphene sheets. Graphite, of course, is what you have in your pencil. However, when graphite is dispersed into single layers of carbon atoms, it has mechanical and electrical properties that can be used to make interesting coatings, like for touch screens, for instance. “All touch screens now have some kind of conductors in them, and by using graphene, you can potentially make better, cheaper, longer-lasting coatings. “In 2010, the Nobel Prize in Physics was given to Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov, two scientists working on graphene, so this field suddenly became even more exciting than before. “There is also a very important interface between medicine and the nanosciences, starting with intelligent, sophisticated sensors, all the way to drug delivery. “At the Technion, we try to bring people from our faculty of medicine together with people from engineering and the basic sciences, in some cases to advise graduate students jointly, and to work on a medical or biological problem where scientists and engineers can help. Collaborations among the various scientific disciplines are crucial here.” “Israel joined the nano community early on. And the Technion formed the nanotechnology center in 2005, two years before anybody else here. I played a part in its formation, but the effort was primarily led by Professor Uri Sivan of the physics department, who was the first director of the Russell Berrie Nanotechnology Institute. (I took over in 2010.) “In a way, it was a pioneering effort not only for the Technion, but for the entire country, because it formed a model on which all the other institutes were formed, not so much in the structure, but much more in the emphasis and in the way they are supported. “We have recruited many new faculty members at the RBNI; each of them is excellent. Many of them spent a good number of years in the United States or in other places, but most are originally Israeli. “There is a lot of talk about bringing back Israelis from abroad. We’ve had to lure them from places like Boston University, Stanford, UCLA – it’s competitive. And then, when they’ve made the decision to come to Israel, we have to compete with the other Israeli universities: the Weizmann Institute, the Hebrew University, Tel Aviv University, and so on. “Our government is trying to reverse the brain drain that we have experienced most acutely in the sciences, of course, because these are the people who are most sought-after by institutions outside Israel. “But there is a kind of snowball effect – although we scientists prefer to call it a nucleation process! Once you form a nucleus, it grows and attracts more material to form a crystal. Good researchers are attracted to a good nucleus.” Lin Arison & Diana C. Stoll are the creators of The Desert and the Cities Sing: Discovering Today’s Israel, a treasure box that highlights Israel’s creative achievement and innovation.Read the source article at ISRAEL21c
Humanities
NEWS

UAlbany professors’ database tracks terrorist groups

Albany When Australian experts wanted to know which terrorist groups pay pirates to capture ships, steal cargo and ransom the crews to provide new revenue for terrorists, they teamed up with two University of Albany professors to find the answers. Karl Rethemeyer, interim dean of Rockefeller College of Public Affairs & Policy, and political science associate professor Victor Asal are creators of a database named BAAD — Big, Allied and Dangerous. BAAD is packed with in-depth information on hundreds of terrorist groups, their alliances and whether those ties are based on religion, ideology, affection or cold cash. BAAD can also monitor which groups abandon politics to become nothing more than criminal gangs. It can track which terrorists abandon violence to become elected officials. It also assesses which terrorists are likeliest to develop weapons of mass destruction—and hit the button. Rethemeyer and Asal offer BAAD as a tool for journalists and researchers striving to separate political spin and fake news from reality and facts. BAAD's data is harvested from declassified documents, news articles, academic papers and even selected social media threads. Rethemeyer and Asal met in 2003 as the United States prepared to invade Iraq based on what later proved to be erroneous intelligence reports. "We were both looking for a project that would help us get tenure so we went to Sovrana's to brainstorm over pizza," Rethemeyer said. By the time they got to Death in a Cup, the Albany pizzeria and deli's signature chocolate-drizzled custard dessert, they had envisioned a unique project. Rethemeyer has long been fascinated by how networks function. He earned his master's from the London School of Economics before getting his Ph.D. from Harvard. Asal has master's degrees from both Tufts University and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. "We decided to focus on non-state actors who kill civilians intentionally for the purpose of changing a political regime," Asal explained. "The database also includes insurgents who did not kill civilians but have caused at least 25 battle deaths of soldiers or policemen." The pair immediately drafted teams of students to review all English-language reporting they can find on a region or terrorist group. Linguistic software complements their work by translating documents from Arabic, Mandarin, Russian and other key languages. But "robot linguists" have limits; they don't grasp sarcasm and often stumble over idioms. While BAAD calculates a set of 30 to 40 terrorist groups want to strike on the U.S., its data also has contradicted several common beliefs held among U.S. officials about terrorism. Former president George W. Bush's "global war on terrorism", for example, seemed a misnomer since most terrorist groups have no interest in attacking America. And FARC guerrillas devastated Colombia for decades but had no plans to attack America or its embassy. Then in 2007, the Federal Bureau of Investigation described "environmental terrorism" America's "number one threat." Environmental Liberation Front members occupied four of 11 spots on the FBI's Most Wanted domestic terrorists list. BAAD disagreed. "To this day, American environmentalist and animal rights groups have never killed anyone, not one human," Rethemeyer said. Academics, U.S. and foreign government agencies are interested in BAAD's intelligence. Rethemeyer recently spoke to South Korea's National Assembly and Korean intelligence agencies about how North Korea might use terrorists. ("It's a mistake for anyone to dismiss Kim Jong Un as a buffoon or a fool; he is sane and insecure and knows he can trust no one in his government," Rethemeyer said.) The professors have applied for grants to expand BAAD's scope to include American groups who threaten violence against perceived enemies ranging from gun background check advocates to government workers alleged to be part of the "Deep State," a term conspiracy theorists apply to a stealth insurgency they believe plots against the president. The men are interested in how even inaccurate rhetoric about terrorism by elected officials and journalists can be used to justify political goals or government spending. And they believe it is crucial for Americans to know that terrorism is not the prosaic danger here that it is in the Middle East or even in Europe. Statistics indicate Americans should feel more secure. "I tell Americans that statistics show they have a bigger danger of being killed by their toddlers than of being murdered by a terrorist," Rethemeyer said.Read the source article at timesunion.com
Medicine/Health
NEWS

From ‘Startup Nation’ to ‘Cannabis Nation’

Hebrew University and City of Jerusalem to Host International Conference on the Cannabinoids in 2021July 26, 2017 — The 
International Cannabinoid Research Society (ICRS) has chosen the Hebrew University of Jerusalem to host the International Symposium on the Cannabinoids in 2021 in Jerusalem.The ICRS is the oldest scientific society dedicated to the research in the cannabis plant, cannabinoids, and their physiological and biochemical targets.  The ICRS has nearly 400 members from all over the world. The members and guests of the ICRS gather yearly to present the ICRS Symposium.Hundreds of participants from Israel and around the world will participate in the conference, at the International Convention Center (ICC) in Jerusalem, in cooperation with the Jerusalem Conventions & Visitors Bureau (JCVB), which operates under the Jerusalem Development Authority (JDA).The event will be hosted by the Hebrew University’s Multidisciplinary Center on Cannabinoid Research (MCCR), which is the leading center in Israel for conducting and coordinating research on cannabinoids, endocannabinoids and medical Cannabis.Over the last 50 years, Hebrew University research has spearheaded a new scientific era of Cannabis research. Professor Raphael Mechoulam, a Hebrew University researcher widely regarded as “the father of cannabinoid research,” and his colleagues isolated the active constituent of the Cannabis plant, tetrahydrocannabinol, elucidated its structure, and synthesized it. Later Professor Mechoulam identified the endogenous cannabinoids (formed in the mammalian body) and thus pioneered the field of cannabinoid research.

Professor Raphael Mechoulam

The International Symposium will mark Professor Mechoulam’s 90th birthday.The Symposium will feature oral and poster presentations covering a wide range of topics germane to cannabinoid science and medicine. Past conferences have covered such topics as autoimmunity, epilepsy, pain, PTSD, drug development and medicinal chemistry, neuroprotection, metabolism, endocrine and obesity, cancer, and much more.Professor Cecilia Hillard, Executive Director of the ICRS, said: “The board of directors of the International Cannabinoid Research Society is very pleased that our 31st annual meeting will be held in Jerusalem in 2021. Jerusalem holds a special place in the history of the science of cannabis and the endocannabinoids. Professor Raphael Mechoulam of Hebrew University was the first to publish the structure of the active principal of cannabis, THC, and was also the first to identify an endogenous cannabinoid, anandamide.  Just as impressive is the current state of cannabinoid research in Jerusalem and Israel at large, including the Multidisciplinary Center on Cannabinoid Research led by Dr. Tam.  We are looking forward to visiting Jerusalem and to an exciting and informative conference.”Dr. Joseph (Yossi) Tam, Director of the Hebrew University’s Multidisciplinary Center on Cannabinoid Research, said: “I’m excited that the International Cannabinoid Research Society has decided to hold its 31st conference in Jerusalem under the auspices of the Multidisciplinary Center on Cannabinoid Research. One of our first goals after establishing the Center was to host the ICRS conference in Jerusalem so that the international community of researchers can learn about the highly advanced work in the field of cannabinoids carried out in the Center and in Israel. I am certain that hosting this high-level conference will constitute another turning point in Israel’s position as a global leader in cannabinoid research and development.”“Modulating endocannabinoid activity has therapeutic potential in a large number of human diseases, and research on cannabinoids may lead to very significant advances in basic science and therapeutics. We look forward to hosting the world’s top scientists working to discover new therapies based on cannabinoids,” said Professor Raphael Mechoulam, Head of the Academic Committee of the Multidisciplinary Center, and the Lionel Jacobson Professor Emeritus of Medicinal Chemistry in the Hebrew University’s Faculty of Medicine.“Bringing this global symposium to Jerusalem emphasizes the ongoing collaboration between multiple institutions including the JCVB, ICC, and MCCR. This partnership was only possible with the shared vision in highlighting the city’s potential as a leading scientific conference destination. Jerusalem offers an ideal setting to host the over 400 global researchers to learn and promote the exchange of scientific information and gain new perspectives about Cannabis,” said Ilanit Melchior, Director of Tourism in Jerusalem.“As the largest and leading conference center in Israel, the Jerusalem ICC looks forward to hosting this important conference aimed at bringing international researchers together to improve human health and well-being,” said Mira Altman, CEO of the International Convention Center (ICC) in Jerusalem.The ICRS is a scientific association with hundreds of international members, all active researchers in the field of endogenous, plant-derived and synthetic cannabinoids and related bioactive lipids. The ICRS Symposium is considered the most important conference in the field of cannabinoids research. The conference brings together the leading researchers from the international scientific community and presents the latest and most up-to-date research in the field.The Multidisciplinary Center on Cannabinoid Research, staffed by leading scientists and medical doctors from the Hebrew University and its affiliated Hadassah Medical Center, conducts and coordinates exciting new research about cannabinoids, endocannabinoids, and medical Cannabis, while promoting collaboration and disseminating information. More info at http://cannabinoids.huji.ac.il/.
Medicine/Health
NEWS

Sperm Counts Are Declining Among Western Men

Comprehensive study shows a significant ongoing decline in sperm counts of Western men, pointing to impaired male health and decreasing fertilitySUMMARY: A rigorous and comprehensive meta-analysis of data collected between 1973 and 2011 finds that among men from Western countries who were not selected on the basis of their fertility status, sperm concentration declined by more than 50%, with no evidence of a “leveling off” in recent years. These findings strongly suggest a significant decline in male reproductive health that has serious implications beyond fertility and reproduction, given recent evidence linking poor semen quality with a higher risk of hospitalization and death. Research on causes of this ongoing decline and their prevention is urgently needed.Jerusalem, July 25, 2017 — In the first systematic review and meta-analysis of trends in sperm count, researchers from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Faculty of Medicine and the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai report a significant decline in sperm concentration and total sperm count among men from Western countries. The study is published in Human Reproduction Update, the leading journal in the fields of Reproductive Biology and Obstetrics & Gynecology.By screening 7,500 studies and conducting a meta-regression analysis on 185 studies between 1973 and 2011, the researchers found a 52.4 percent decline in sperm concentration, and a 59.3 percent decline in total sperm count, among men from North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand who were not selected based on their fertility status. In contrast, no significant decline was seen in South America, Asia, and Africa, where far fewer studies have been conducted.The study also indicates the rate of decline among Western men is not decreasing: the slope was steep and significant even when the analysis was restricted to studies with sample collection between 1996 and 2011.The research was led by Dr. Hagai Levine, Head of the Environmental Health Track at the Hebrew University-Hadassah Braun School of Public Health and Community Medicine, Jerusalemwith Dr. Shanna H. Swan, Professor in the Department of Environmental Medicine and Public Health at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, and an international team of researchers from Brazil, Denmark, Israel, Spain, and the United States.While declines in sperm count have been reported since 1992, the question has remained controversial because of limitations in past studies. However, the current study uses a broader scope and rigorous meta-regression methods, conservatively addresses the reliability of study estimates, and controls for factors that might help explain the decline such as age, abstinence time, and selection of the study population.“Given the importance of sperm counts for male fertility and human health, this study is an urgent wake-up call for researchers and health authorities around the world to investigate the causes of the sharp ongoing drop in sperm count, with the goal of prevention,” said Dr. Hagai Levine, also an adjunct assistant professor at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York.The findings have important public health implications. First, these data demonstrate that the proportion of men with sperm counts below the threshold for subfertility or infertility is increasing. Moreover, given the findings from recent studies that reduced sperm count is related to increased morbidity and mortality, the ongoing decline points to serious risks to male fertility and health.“Decreasing sperm count has been of great concern since it was first reported 25 years ago. This definitive study shows, for the first time, that this decline is strong and continuing. The fact that the decline is seen in Western countries strongly suggests that chemicals in commerce are playing a causal role in this trend,” Dr. Shanna H. Swan.While the current study did not examine causes of the observed declines, sperm count has previously been plausibly associated with environmental and lifestyle influences, including prenatal chemical exposure, adult pesticide exposure, smoking, stress, and obesity.  Therefore, sperm count may sensitively reflect the impact of the modern environment on male health across the lifespan and serve as a “canary in the coal mine” signaling broader risks to male health.The Hebrew University-Hadassah Braun School of Public Health and Community Medicine is the first school of public health in Israel and one of five schools within the Hebrew University’s Faculty of Medicine. Since 1961, both in Israel and internationally, the Braun School, which is APHEA accredited, has improved the physical, mental and social well-being of populations, trained a public health workforce for the challenges of today and the future, conducted public health research, and made an impact on health services and policy. The School’s renowned International Master’s in Public Health (IMPH) program prepares graduates to take up key positions as leaders and teachers of public health in their home countries.# # #Researchers who participated in this study are affiliated with Hebrew University-Hadassah Braun School of Public Health and Community Medicine, and the Hebrew University Center of Excellence in Agriculture and Environmental Health, Jerusalem, Israel; Department of Environmental Medicine and Public Health, and Gustave L. and Janet W. Levy Library, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, NY, USA; University Department of Growth and Reproduction,  University of Copenhagen, Rigshospitalet, Copenhagen, Denmark; Department of Physiology, Federal University of Parana, Curitiba, Brazil; Division of Preventive Medicine and Public Health, University of Murcia School of Medicine and Biomedical Research Institute of Murcia, Murcia, Spain; Faculty of Health Sciences, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Beer Sheva, Israel. CITATION: Temporal trends in sperm count: A systematic review and meta-regression analysis. Hagai Levine, Niels Jørgensen, Anderson Martino‐Andrade, Jaime Mendiola, Dan Weksler-Derri, Irina Mindlis, Rachel Pinotti, Shanna H Swan. Human Reproduction Update, July 25, 2017, doi:10.1093/humupd/dmx022. Link: 
https://academic.oup.com/humupd/article-lookup/doi/10.1093/humupd/dmx022.FUNDING: Researchers received support from the Environment and Health Fund (EHF), Jerusalem, Israel; American Healthcare Professionals and Friends for Medicine in Israel (APF); Israel Medical Association (IMA) [Levine]; Research Fund of Rigshospitalet (grant no. R42-A1326) [Jørgensen); The Brazilian National Council for Scientific and Technological Development [Martino-Andrade]; The Mount Sinai Transdisciplinary Center on Early Environmental Exposures (NIH P30ES023515) [Swan].
Leadership
NEWS

American Friends of the Hebrew University Opens Philadelphia...

Seth M. Bloom, experienced Jewish communal leader, to spearhead Philadelphia outreach in support of the Hebrew University of JerusalemPHILADELPHIA—July 24, 2017 American Friends of the Hebrew University (AFHU), a national nonprofit organization dedicated to raising support for, and awareness of, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, announced the launch of a new Center City Philadelphia office to serve the greater Philadelphia community. This office will complement AFHU’s six current offices in regions throughout the United States, as well as the operations of its national headquarters in New York. AFHU’s Philadelphia office will be headed by Mr. Seth M. Bloom, an experienced development professional with close ties to Israel and the American Jewish community.Herb Sachs, AFHU national board member, remarked: “We respect and appreciate the steadfast commitment of Philadelphians, including philanthropic leaders and the academic community, to Israel and the nation’s foundational institutions. In opening the Philadelphia office, AFHU is signaling its intention of making our community pivotal to the university’s future growth. Hebrew University is an outstanding research university. By extending our roots and relationships, we will improve lives the world over.”The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, in independent surveys of the top institutions in academia, ranks first in Israel and among the top 100 universities worldwide. Founded in 1918 by visionaries such as Albert Einstein and Chaim Weizmann, the Hebrew University is a multicultural and pluralistic institution devoted to innovation and achievement across seven academic Faculties. Among its many accomplishments, Hebrew University faculty and alumni received eight Nobel Prizes.Over the years, Hebrew University has developed productive collaborations and partnerships with leading U.S. universities, including the University of Pennsylvania. The Hebrew University-Hadassah School of Dental Medicine was founded by the Alpha Omega Fraternity, with support from U. Penn alumni and faculty. The D. Walter Cohen Middle East Center for Dental Education at Hebrew University was established in tribute to Dr. D. Walter Cohen, former Dean of the U. Penn School of Dental Medicine.  The Koret School of Veterinary Medicine at Hebrew University has maintained an ongoing relationship with U. Penn’s School of Veterinary Medicine, and other exchanges exist between these two leading universities. The Hebrew University and Thomas Jefferson University also initiate academic partnerships.Seth Bloom began his career as Assistant Director of the Jewish Federation of Delaware in 1989, subsequently becoming a Planned Giving and Major Gifts Officer of the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia. In 2000, he expanded his professional portfolio as Vice President of WPO & Associates Consulting and later as the Founder and President of Bloom Metz Consulting. He has spent the past several years with the American Associates of Ben-Gurion of the Negev. As a professional consultant, he has provided hands-on service and supplementary leadership to more than 150 non-profit organizations.“Seth Bloom will play an important role in our efforts to advance higher education and research in Israel. AFHU will ensure that our already strong community of supporters in the greater Philadelphia area can become actively engaged in the transformative work of the university,” stated Beth Asnien McCoy, National Executive Director of AFHU.“Recognizing the special relationship that people who live in the U.S. Mid-Atlantic Region have with Israel, I’m thrilled to be representing Hebrew University in this new position,” said Bloom.Seth Bloom can be reached at the AFHU office located at 2100 Arch Street, Suite 455, Philadelphia, PA 19103; telephone 215.330.6722 or email [email protected]
Medicine/Health
NEWS

New Tool Could Lead to Earlier Diagnosis, Better Treatment...

Suaad Abd-Elhadi wins a Kaye Innovation Award for a new diagnostic tool that could pave the way for early diagnosis and improved treatment of one of the most common and debilitating neurodegenerative disordersJuly 5, 2017 — Parkinson’s disease is the second most common neurodegenerative disorder in humans, after Alzheimer’s disease. It is typically characterized by changes in motor control such as tremors and shaking, but can also include non-motor symptoms, from the cognitive to the behavioral. An estimated seven to 10 million people worldwide are living with Parkinson’s disease, with medication costing approximately $2,500 a year, and therapeutic surgery costing up to $100,000 dollars, per patient.Making an accurate diagnosis of Parkinson’s, particularly in early stages and mild cases, is difficult, and there are currently no standard diagnostic tests other than clinical information provided by the patient and the findings of a neurological exam. One of the best hopes for improving diagnosis is to develop a reliable test for identifying a biomarker, i.e. a substance whose presence would indicate the presence of the disease.Now, Suaad Abd-Elhadi, a Ph.D. student in the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Faculty of Medicine, developed the lipid ELISA. This unique diagnostic tool could lead to earlier detection of Parkinson’s, along with better tracking of the disease’s progression and a patient’s response to therapy.How the diagnostic ELISA works ELISA stands for “enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay.” An assay is a procedure used in laboratory settings to assess the presence, amount, and activity of a target entity, such as a drug, cell or biochemical substance. ELISA is a common assay technique that involves targeting cellular secretions.In the case of the lipid ELISA, the cellular secretion of interest is a specific protein called the alpha-Synuclin protein. This protein serves as a convenient biomarker that is closely associated with the tissues where Parkinson’s disease can be detected, along with the neurological pathways the disease travels along, causing its characteristic symptoms.As a simple and highly sensitive diagnostic tool that can detect Parkinson’s biomarkers, the lipid ELISA could lead to a minimally invasive and cost-effective way to improve the lives of Parkinson’s patients. Recently, Abd-Elhadi has demonstrated a proof of concept to the high potential of this lipid-ELISA assay in differentiating healthy and Parkinson’s affected subjects. She is now in the process of analyzing a large cohort of samples, including moderate and severe Parkinson’s, and control cases, as part of a clinical study.Through Yissum, its technology transfer company, the Hebrew University holds granted patents on the technology and signed an agreement with Integra Holdings for further development and commercialization.2017 Kaye Innovation Award In recognition of her work, Suaad Abd-Elhadi was awarded the Kaye Innovation Award for 2017.The Kaye Innovation Awards at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem have been awarded annually since 1994. Isaac Kaye of England, a prominent industrialist in the pharmaceutical industry, established the awards to encourage faculty, staff and students of the Hebrew University to develop innovative methods and inventions with good commercial potential, which will benefit the university and society. For more information about the 2017 Kaye Innovations Awards, visit http://bit.ly/kaye2017.Suaad Abd-Elhadi is a direct-track Ph.D. student at the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in the Hebrew University’s Faculty of Medicine. She completed her B.S. in medical laboratory science at Hadassah Academic College. She was awarded a scholarship from the Liba and Manek Teich Endowment Fund for Doctoral Students and an Adrian Sucari Scholarship for Academic Excellence. She conducts her research under the supervision of Dr. Ronit Sharon and has published papers in Science Reports and Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry describing her research.
Leadership
NEWS

Prof. Asher Cohen Elected Next President of the Hebrew...

July 3, 2017 — The Hebrew University of Jerusalem is pleased to announce that its Board of Governors, headed by its Chairman Mr. Michael Federmann, has elected Professor Asher Cohen as the next President of the Hebrew University.Professor Cohen will succeed Professor Menahem Ben-Sasson, who led the University for the last eight years. He will begin serving as President on September 1, 2017.Professor Cohen was elected President after serving for five years as Rector of the University. As Rector, Professor Cohen led many important initiatives. Among these are recruiting top researchers from Israel and abroad, opening new and innovative academic programs, refreshing the university’s curricula, and developing in-depth processes for continually improving the education of university students, in cooperation with the Student Union.After graduating from the Hebrew University with a B.A. in Economics and an M.A. in Psychology, Professor Cohen completed his doctoral and post-doctoral studies at the University of Oregon in the United States. He served as a senior lecturer at Indiana University before returning in the early 1990s to the Hebrew University’s Department of Psychology, in the Faculty of Social Sciences. From 2008 to 2012, he served as the head of the Department of Psychology, after which he was appointed Rector, a position he currently holds.Professor Cohen’s research in the cognitive sciences focuses on the relationship between the human perception system and human response mechanisms in situations that require very fast motor responses. In the framework of his research, Professor Cohen developed a theoretical model that successfully predicts the situations in which performing two tasks simultaneously will lead to a decline in abilities.At the request of incoming President Professor Asher Cohen and Chairman of the Board of Governors Mr. Michael Federmann, the Board of Governors appointed outgoing President Professor Ben-Sasson as Chancellor of the Hebrew University. As Chancellor, he will undertake a variety of tasks which will be assigned to him from time to time by the President, particularly in the area of relations with donors, key supporters, and government officials in Israel and around the world, to advance the University’s development plans.Chairman of the Board of Governors Mr. Michael Federmann congratulated the Board of Governors, wished Prof. Asher Cohen success, and thanked Professor Menahem Ben-Sasson for his service. Said Federmann: “In the coming years, Professor Asher Cohen will lead the university to even greater academic heights. At the end of his two terms in office, I thank Professor Menahem Ben-Sasson for his great contributions to establishing the Hebrew University’s leading position in Israel and around the world, to which he will continue to contribute as Chancellor.”
Medicine/Health
NEWS

Mrs. Lily Safra Dedicates New Home of Hebrew University’s...

Mayor of Jerusalem Nir Barkat, British Architect Lord Norman Foster, and more than 400 friends and supporters joined the gala celebration and naming ceremony of Israel’s largest neuroscience centerJuly 2, 2017— More than 400 friends and supporters joined Mrs. Lily Safra as she dedicated the new home of the Edmond and Lily Safra Center for Brain Sciences (ELSC) at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Edmond J. Safra Campus.

(L-R) ELSC scientist Prof. Idan Segev, Member of the Council for Higher Education and Chairman of the Planning and Budgeting Committee Prof. Yaffa Zilbershats, Hebrew University Rector and President-elect Prof. Asher Cohen, and ELSC researcher Prof. Eilon Vaadia. (Credit: Bruno Charbit)

The Mayor of Jerusalem, Nir Barkat, and Lord Norman Foster, Founder and Executive Chairman of the British architectural firm Foster + Partners, which designed the new Center, were among the dignitaries attending the gala event.“I am thrilled to join in celebrating this defining moment for ELSC when such an extraordinary new building becomes home to a remarkable community of researchers and students,” said Mrs. Lily Safra. “Their multi-disciplinary study of the brain’s secrets will surely make a profound impact on how we treat disease and care for patients. I know that my husband Edmond would share my deep sense of pride that our names are associated with such pioneering work, and with such dedicated and inspiring people.”Mrs. Safra is a leading supporter of neuroscience research projects around the world, and Chairwoman of the Edmond J. Safra Foundation, which pledged a lead donation of $50 Million of the Center’s $150 Million initial budget.

(Credit: Michael Zekri)

“The Hebrew University is grateful to Mrs. Lily Safra and the Edmond J. Safra Foundation for their leadership in this historic initiative to unlock the mysteries of the brain,” said Professor Menahem Ben-Sasson, President of the Hebrew University.  “ELSC is unique in the way it brings together theoretical and experimental researchers to develop pioneering approaches to brain science.”The 14,500 square meter Center is a premier setting that will encourage effective collaboration through interdisciplinary collaboration and interaction. Specialists in disciplines such as physics, computer science, psychology, neurobiology, and medicine will all work under one roof to achieve breakthroughs that improve the lives of patients suffering from illnesses of the brain.Directed by Professor Israel Nelken and Professor Adi Mizrahi, the Center will include state-of-the-art labs, classrooms, an innovative imaging center, and areas for biological and pre-clinical research. Significant emphasis was placed on constructing an environmentally friendly building with a focus on conserving energy and reducing carbon dioxide emissions.
Medicine/Health
NEWS

First ‘Haploid’ Human Stem Cells Could Revolutionize...

Potential for regenerative medicine and cancer research earns doctoral student Ido Sagi a Kaye Innovation AwardJune 28, 2017 — Stem cell research holds huge potential for medicine and human health. In particular, human embryonic stem cells (ESCs), with their ability to turn into any cell in the human body, are essential to the future prevention and treatment of disease.One set or two? Diploid versus haploid cells Most of the cells in our body are diploid, which means they carry two sets of chromosomes — one from each parent. Until now, scientists have only succeeded in creating haploid embryonic stem cells — which contain a single set of chromosomes. However, scientists have long sought to isolate and replicate these haploid ESCs in humans, which would allow them to work with one set of human chromosomes as opposed to a mixture from both parents.

This milestone was finally reached when Ido Sagi, working as a Ph.D. student at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s 
Azrieli Center for Stem Cells and Genetic Research, led research that yielded the first successful isolation and maintenance of haploid embryonic stem cells in humans. Unlike in mice, these haploid stem cells were able to differentiate into many other cell types, such as brain, heart, and pancreas cells, while retaining a single set of chromosomes.With Professor Nissim Benvenisty, Director of the Azrieli Center, Sagi showed that this new human stem cell type will play an important role in human genetic and medical research. It will aid our understanding of human development – for example, why we reproduce sexually instead of from a single parent. It will make genetic screening easier and more precise, by allowing the examination of single sets of chromosomes. Additionally, it is already enabling the study of resistance to chemotherapy drugs, with implications for cancer therapy.Diagnostic kits for personalized medicine
Based on this research, Yissum, the Technology Transfer arm of the Hebrew University, launched the company New Stem, which is developing a diagnostic kit for predicting resistance to chemotherapy treatments. By amassing a broad library of human pluripotent stem cells with different mutations and genetic makeups, NewStem plans to develop diagnostic kits for personalized medication and future therapeutic and reproductive products.
2017 Kaye Innovation Award In recognition of his work, Ido Sagi was awarded the Kaye Innovation Award for 2017.The Kaye Innovation Awards at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem have been awarded annually since 1994. Isaac Kaye of England, a prominent industrialist in the pharmaceutical industry, established the awards to encourage faculty, staff, and students of the Hebrew University to develop innovative methods and inventions with good commercial potential, which will benefit the university and society.Ido Sagi received B.S summa cum laude in Life Sciences from the Hebrew University and currently pursuing a Ph.D. at the laboratory of Professor Nissim Benvenisty at the university’s Department of Genetics in the Alexander Silberman Institute of Life Sciences. He is a fellow of the Adams Fellowship of the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities and has recently received the Rappaport Prize for Excellence in Biomedical Research. Sagi’s research focuses on studying genetic and epigenetic phenomena in human pluripotent stem cells, and his work has been published in leading scientific journals, including NatureNature Genetics, and Cell Stem Cell.
Medicine/Health
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HU Scientists Develop Potentially Life-Saving Test to Detect...

Professor Yuval Dor and Dr. Ruth Shemer received Kaye Innovation Award for developing a way to detect specific tissue damage from a blood sampleJune 25, 2017 — One of the holy grails of medical research is the development of a simple non-invasive test that can detect a variety of diseases with high accuracy. However, to date, there is no single diagnostic test that fulfills this function.To solve this problem, Professor Yuval Dor and Dr. Ruth Shemer at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (together with Professor Ben Glaser, Head of the Endocrinology Department at the Hadassah Medical Center) developed a new blood test that looks for the remnants of dying cells cast off by specific tissue types throughout the body.

Professor Yuval Dor

When cells die, they release DNA fragments into the circulatory system. The DNA of each type of dying cell carries a unique chemical modification called methylation. By detecting the unique methylation signatures of DNA from the fragments of dying cells, Professor Dor and Dr. Shemer established a way to detect multiple disease processes —including diabetes, cancer, traumatic injury, and neurodegeneration — in a highly sensitive and specific manner.Professor Dor and Dr. Shemer are researchers in the Hebrew University’s Faculty of Medicine. Both earned their Ph.D.s at the Hebrew University.Goal: a rapid blood test to assess multiple diseases simultaneouslyA test that accurately pinpoints tissue damage from dying cells’ DNA fragments could hold the key to a variety of medical advances — from a deeper understanding of human tissue dynamics to earlier detection of life-threatening illnesses, to more efficient monitoring of responses to medical therapies.Professor Dor and Dr. Shemer envision a future where the continued research and refinement of their new technology will lead to a universal, rapid, sensitive and quantitative blood test for tissue-specific cell death. This blood test could be used to assess multiple pathologic conditions simultaneously, equivalent to standard blood chemistry panels in use today.

Dr. Ruth Shemer

Their paper describing the method and its applications was published the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, in 2016, drawing considerable interest from the scientific and popular media.Aurum Ventures MKI Ltd., the technology investment arm of Morris Kahn, provided 
Yissum, the Technology Transfer arm of the Hebrew University, with $1.2 million of funding for research and development of this new diagnostic approach. Earlier this year, OnTimeBio was founded to make Professor Dor’s and Dr. Shemer’s vision become a reality.2017 Kaye Innovation Award In recognition of their work, Prof. Dor and Dr. Shemer were awarded the Kaye Innovation Award for 2017.The Kaye Innovation Awards at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem have been awarded annually since 1994. Isaac Kaye of England, a prominent industrialist in the pharmaceutical industry, established the awards to encourage faculty, staff and students of the Hebrew University to develop innovative methods and inventions with good commercial potential, which will benefit the university and society. For more information about the 2017 Kaye Innovations Awards, visit http://bit.ly/kaye2017.
Agriculture
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Aquaculture Innovation Helps Increase World Food Supply

A new way to grow larger fish and feed the expanding world population earns Professor Berta Levavi-Sivan a 2017 Kaye Innovation Award June 27, 2017 — As the world faces a projected population increase from today’s 7.5 billion people to 9 billion people by 2050, the demand for sustainable food sources is on the rise. The answer to this looming dilemma may well reside within the booming field of aquaculture. While wild fisheries have been on the decline for the last 20 years, aquaculture, or fish farming, is the fastest growing food-producing sector in the world and will play an increasingly vital role in our planet’s food resources in the years to come.One of the challenges to aquaculture is that reproduction, as an energy intensive endeavor, makes fish grow more slowly. To solve this problem, Professor Berta Levavi-Sivan at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem identified tiny molecules named Neurokinin B (NKB) and Neurokinin F (NKF) that are secreted by the fish’s brains and play a crucial role in their reproduction. Professor Levavi-Sivan, a specialist in aquaculture at the Hebrew University’s Robert H. Smith Faculty of Agriculture, Food and Environment, then developed molecules that neutralize the effect of NKB and NKF.  The molecules inhibited fish reproduction and consequently led to increased growth rates.Better Fish Growth, More Aquaculture Jobs These inhibitors can now be included in fish feed to ensure better growth rates.  For example, young tilapia fed the inhibitors in their food supply for two months gained 25% more weight versus fish that did not receive the supplement. So far, NKB has been found in 20 different species of fish, indicating that this discovery could be effective in a wide variety of species.The technology developed by Professor Levavi-Sivan and her team was licensed by Yissum, the Technology Transfer company of the Hebrew University, to start-up AquiNovo Ltd., established and operating within the framework of The Trendlines Group. AquiNovo is further developing the technology to generate growth enhancers for farmed fish. As the aquaculture industry obtains the tools to flourish, an increase in jobs is likely to follow. In Europe, aquaculture accounts for about 20% of fish production and directly employs some 85,000 people. The sector mainly benefits those living in coastal and rural areas, where jobs are most needed.2017 Kaye innovation Award In recognition of her work, Professor Berta Levavi-Sivan was awarded the Kaye Innovation Award for 2017.The Kaye Innovation Awards at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem have been awarded annually since 1994. Isaac Kaye of England, a prominent industrialist in the pharmaceutical industry, established the awards to encourage faculty, staff and students of the Hebrew University to develop innovative methods and inventions with good commercial potential, which will benefit the university and society. For more information about the 2017 Kaye Innovations Awards, visit http://bit.ly/kaye2017.Professor Berta Levavi-Sivan earned her B.S. degree in life science and her M.S. and Ph.D. in zoology from Tel Aviv University.  At the Hebrew University’s Robert H. Smith Faculty of Agriculture, Food and Environment, where her work focuses on fish reproduction and growth, she has published over 100 articles in referred journals and has won several prizes for her findings. As a specialist in aquaculture, she has worked extensively in Uganda to combat depleted fish supplies in Lake Victoria.
Medicine/Health
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Algorithm Leads to Dramatic Improvement in Drug Discovery...

An algorithm developed at the Hebrew University cuts through the immense number of possible solutions to shorten drug discovery times from years to monthsDiscovery earns Prof. Amiram Goldblum a 2017 Kaye Innovation AwardJune 22, 2017 — Antibiotics for treating particularly resistant diseases, molecules that block immune system overreactions, molecules that inhibit the growth of cancer cells by removing excess iron, molecules that may increase the digestion of fats: all these and more have been discovered in recent years using a unique computerized approach to solving particularly complex problems.Over the past five years, an Iterative Stochastic Elimination (ISE) algorithm developed in the laboratory of Professor Amiram Goldblum, at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Institute for Drug Research, has been applied to the discovery of potential drugs. The Institute is part of the School of Pharmacy in the Faculty Of Medicine. First tested to solve problems in the structure and function of proteins, the algorithm has since been used to reduce drug discovery times — from years to months and even to weeks.Goldblum’s solution is different from other algorithms called “heuristics,” which are based on deriving solutions using logic and intuition, and suggests better solutions. In this instance, the algorithm produces a model for the activity of small molecules on one or more proteins known to cause the disease. A model is a set of filters of physico-chemical properties that distinguish between active and non-active molecules, or between more and less active ones. Millions of molecules can then be screened by the model, which enables the scoring of each molecule by a number that reflects its ability to pass through the filters based on its own physico-chemical properties.A model of this type is usually built in a few hours and is capable of screening millions of molecules in less than a day. Therefore, within a few days or more, it is possible to make initial predictions about the candidate molecules for a specific activity to combat a disease. Most of those candidates have never been known before to have any biological activity.

Professor Amiram Goldblum

For the development of this algorithm, Professor Goldblum won an American Chemical Society Prize in 2000. Since then, the algorithm has solved many problems related to understanding various biological systems such as protein flexibility, proteins-small molecules interactions, and more. These and other discoveries stem from collaborations between Goldblum’s laboratory, where his students employ the algorithm to solve various problems and laboratories and pharmaceutical companies in the world that test Goldblum’s predictions in Germany, Japan, the United States, and Israel.On the strength of Goldblum’s technology, the company 
Pepticom was founded in 2011 by Yissum, the Technology Transfer arm of the Hebrew University, to revolutionize the discovery of novel peptide drug candidates. Pepticom’s key asset is an exceptional artificial intelligence platform aimed at designing peptide ligands based upon solved crystal structures of proteins.Wide ApplicationsThe algorithm can be applied to other types of problems, in which the number of possibilities is immense and are not solvable even if the world’s most powerful computers would work on it together. These include problems in which the number of possible outcomes are 10 to the power of 100 (10100) and more, such as problems of land transport, aviation, communications and biological systems.In the field of transportation, this could involve finding alternative ways to get from one point to another using traffic data on each of the alternative roads leading between the two points. In aviation, an optimal arrangement of landings and takeoffs at busy airports. In telecommunications, finding the least expensive routes within a complex array of communication cables. And in biology, a model that is constructed on the basis of a few dozen or hundreds of molecules serves to screen millions of molecules and to discover new drug candidates. These are then sent to experimental labs to be developed further, and in some cases have been crucial in furthering the development of treatment for Alzheimer’s disease and different forms of cancer.Kaye Innovation AwardIn recognition of his work, Professor Amiram Goldblum was awarded the Kaye Innovation Award for 2017.The Kaye Innovation Awards at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem have been awarded annually since 1994. Isaac Kaye of England, a prominent industrialist in the pharmaceutical industry, established the awards to encourage faculty, staff, and students of the Hebrew University to develop innovative methods and inventions with good commercial potential, which will benefit the university and society. For more information about the 2017 Kaye Innovations Awards, visit http://bit.ly/kaye2017
Medicine/Health
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Simple Method Measures How Long Bacteria Can Wait Out...

The efficient classification of bacterial strains as tolerant, resistant, or persistent could help to guide treatment decisions, and could ultimately reduce the ever-growing risk of resistanceJune 21, 2017 — A growing number of pathogens are developing resistance to one or more antibiotics, threatening our ability to treat infectious diseases. Now, according to a study published in Biophysical Journal, a simple new method for measuring the time it takes to kill a bacterial population could improve the ability of clinicians to effectively treat antimicrobial-tolerant strains that are on the path to becoming resistant.“These findings allow measurement of tolerance, which has previously been largely overlooked in the clinical setting,” says senior study author Professor Nathalie Balaban, the Joseph and Sadie Danciger Professor of Physics at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. “Routinely measuring tolerance could supply valuable information about the duration of antibiotic treatments, reducing the chance of both under- and over-treatment. Furthermore, data compiled from such measurements could give an estimate of how widespread the phenomenon of tolerance really is, which is currently a complete unknown.”According to the World Health Organization, antibiotic resistance is one of the biggest threats to global health and is putting the achievements of modern medicine at risk. Due to selective pressure, pathogens acquire resistance through mutations that make the antibiotic less effective, for example, by interfering with the ability of a drug to bind to its target. Currently, clinicians determine which antibiotic and dose to prescribe by assessing resistance levels using a routine metric called minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC)—the minimal drug concentration required to prevent bacterial growth.Although resistant strains continue to grow despite exposure to high drug concentrations, tolerant strains can survive lethal concentrations of an antibiotic for a long period of time before succumbing to its effects. Tolerance is often associated with treatment failure and relapse, and it is considered a stepping stone toward the evolution of antibiotic resistance. But unlike resistance, tolerance is poorly understood and is currently not evaluated in healthcare settings.“The lack of a quantitative measure means that this aspect of the treatment relies largely on the experience of the individual physician or the community,” says first author Asher Brauner, a Ph.D. student in Balaban’s lab at the Hebrew University’s Racah Institute of Physics. “This can lead to treatment being either too short, increasing the risk of relapse and evolution of resistance, or much too long, unnecessarily causing side effects, a release of antibiotic waste into the environment, and additional costs.”To address this problem, Balaban and her team developed a tolerance metric called the minimum duration for killing 99% of the population (MDK99). The protocol, which can be performed manually or using an automated robotic system, involves exposing populations of approximately 100 bacteria in separate microwell plates to different concentrations of antibiotics for varied time periods while determining the presence or lack of survivors.

View inside biofilm of antibiotic resistant bacteria.

The researchers applied MDK99 to six Escherichia coli strains, which showed tolerance levels ranging from 2 to 23 hr under ampicillin treatment. MDK99 also facilitates measurements of a special case of tolerance known as time-dependent persistence—the presence of transiently dormant subpopulations of bacteria that are killed more slowly than the majority of the fast-growing population. Like other forms of tolerance, time-dependent persistence can lead to recurrent infections because the few surviving bacteria can quickly grow to replenish the entire population once antibiotic treatment stops. “A take-home message from this is that it is important to complete a course of antibiotic treatment as prescribed, even after the disappearance of the symptoms,” Balaban says. “Partial treatment gives tolerance and persistence mutations a selective advantage, and these, in turn, hasten the development of resistance.”In future studies, Balaban and her team will use MDK99 to study the evolution of tolerance in patients. Moreover, the ability to systematically determine the tolerance level of strains in the lab could facilitate research in the field. “If implemented in hospital clinical microbiology labs, MDK99 could enable the efficient classification of bacterial strains as tolerant, resistant, or persistent, helping to guide treatment decisions,” Balaban says. “In the end, understanding tolerance and finding a way to combat it could significantly reduce the ever-growing risk of resistance.”###Scientists involved with this research are affiliated with The Racah Institute of Physics and The Center for NanoScience and NanoTechnology at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and The Broad Institute of Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).FUNDING: This work was supported by the European Research Council (ERC) (grant 681819) and the Israel Science Foundation (ISF) (grant 492/15).CITATION: Biophysical Journal, Brauner et al.: “An Experimental Framework for Quantifying Bacterial Tolerance” 
http://www.cell.com/biophysj/fulltext/S0006-3495(17)30551-9 / doi: 10.1016/j.bpj.2017.05.014 
Science/Technology
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Hebrew University Wins Government Quantum Communications...

Research at Israel’s leading quantum science center paves the way for massive improvements in computation speed and secure communicationJune 11, 2017 — The Quantum Information Science Center at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem won a NIS 7.5 million tender from the Government of Israel to lead the construction of a national demonstrator for quantum communications technologies.

A system from Dr. Yaron Bromberg’s lab to control light in optical fibers, shaping the wavefront of photons using a fiber piano, at the Hebrew University’s Quantum Information Science Center. (Credit: Yitz Woolf for Hebrew University)

The goal of this project is to develop homegrown Israeli expertise and technology for a national quantum communications system that will prevent eavesdropping, protect data privacy and secure national infrastructure.Professor Nadav Katz, director of the Quantum Information Science Center, and a researcher at the Hebrew University’s Racah Institute of Physics, said: “This project to build a national quantum communications system will position Israel in the leading edge of research toward ultimately secured communication systems. With support from the Government of Israel and in cooperation with our research partners, this is the first Israeli national project in the emerging field of quantum information technologies.”Quantum information research is one of the hottest areas in 21st century science, promising dramatic improvements in computation speed and secure communication. Based on the inherent wave-like nature of matter and light, it will lead to massive leaps forward in our ability to fabricate, control, measure and understand advanced structures.To help drive this field forward, in 2013 the Hebrew University founded the 
Quantum Information Science Center (QISC) and recruited an interdisciplinary team of over 20 researchers from physics, computer science, mathematics, chemistry, philosophy, and engineering. Representing the vanguard of Israel’s quantum researchers, this group is advancing our understanding of quantum information science and the development of quantum technologies. 

Graduate student Yifat Baruchi in Prof. Ronen Rapaport’s lab, testing a photon measurement setup, at the Hebrew University’s Quantum Information Science Center. (Credit: Yitz Woolf for Hebrew University)

As part of this project, researchers will build a communication system at the Hebrew University’s laboratories based on single photons representing quantum bits. Quantum bits make it possible to perform calculations in new ways that are not possible in current communications systems or even supercomputers. Current methods of encrypting data are increasingly vulnerable to attack as the increased power of quantum computing comes online. Quantum communication systems use the laws of physics to secure data and are therefore resistant to attack.Commercial quantum communication systems are not subject to peer review by Israeli experts and are therefore not suitable to the needs at hand. An Israeli implementation, subject to peer review and hack testing by Israeli scientists, is an essential national resource.The NIS 7.5 million contract was awarded by the Ministry of Defense, which is tasked with developing a secure communications infrastructure to improve privacy and secure national infrastructure. Also participating in the project are Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd. and Opsys technologies, and an additional researcher from Tel Aviv University.About the Quantum Information Science Center:

Prof. Hagai Eisenberg and graduate student Daniel Istrati study a single photon experiment at the Hebrew University’s Quantum Information Science Center. (Credit: Yitz Woolf for Hebrew University)

The Quantum Information Science Center (QISC) of the Hebrew University is a unique center for investigating both fundamental and applied science of quantum information. Its mission is to understand how quantum systems can be controlled and isolated to reach goals of communication, sensing, simulation and computation beyond the state of the art of any classical system. Bringing together diverse disciplines and methodologies, the Center has revolutionized many aspects of the field, including quantum computing threshold and security theorems, quantum control and thermodynamics, and many exciting experimental implementations such as optical, diamond vacancies, superconducting and more. For more information, please visit http://qcent.huji.ac.il/
Science/Technology
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Israeli, Indian partners team up with Motorola to launch...

Other partners in running the venture, which will be housed at OurCrowd’s Jerusalem headquarters, will include the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Yissum Technology Transfer Company and Indian conglomerate Reliance Industries. “This represents a unique team with a global reach, incredible scale, and with deep technological, commercial and academic roots,” said Jon Medved, CEO of OurCrowd. “We expect to invest in close to 50 companies over the next 10 years and further grow the formidable cadre of Jerusalem start-ups.” OurCrowd will be replacing Jerusalem Venture Partners, which previously led the incubator, launching operations and accepting applications in the second half of 2017. The venture will be part of the larger incubator program overseen by the Israel Innovation Authority. “In today’s technology environment, strong partnerships and strategic investments help accelerate innovation,” said Eduardo Conrado, executive vice president for strategy and innovation at Motorola Solutions. “The Jerusalem incubator is one element of our Israel innovation hub, which is focused on developing advanced solutions in artificial intelligence, cybersecurity and other fields.” A representative of Reliance Industries, meanwhile, expressed confidence in the promise of Israeli start-ups and the “unique value proposition” they offer “by delivering next-gen digital services. “We believe the incredible technological innovation from Israel will gain immensely by addressing the huge Indian market riding on the nationwide 4G LTE [high-speed wireless communication] digital infrastructure set up in India by Jio,” the representative said, referring to a mobile network operator owned by Reliance. “This will be a significant win-win for both India and Israel.”Read the source article at Jpost
Medicine/Health
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Hebrew University to Dedicate New Home of the Edmond and...

Philanthropist Mrs. Lily Safra, Architect Lord Norman Foster, and more than 400 people from Israel and abroad to attend the gala celebration and naming ceremony of Israel’s largest neuroscience centerJune 6, 2017 — The Hebrew University of Jerusalem will dedicate the new home of The Edmond and Lily Safra Center for Brain Sciences (ELSC) in Jerusalem on June 13, 2017. More than 400 people from Israel and abroad will attend the gala celebration and naming ceremony of the largest neuroscience center in Israel and one of the most ambitious in the world.Participating in the event will be Mrs. Lily Safra, a leading supporter of neuroscience research projects around the world, and Chairwoman of the Edmond J. Safra Foundation, which pledged a lead donation of $50 million of the Center’s $150 million initial budget.“I am truly thrilled to join in celebrating this defining moment for ELSC when such an extraordinary new building becomes home to a remarkable community of researchers and students,” said Mrs. Lily Safra. “Their multi-disciplinary study of the brain’s secrets will surely make a profound impact on how we treat disease and care for patients. I know that my husband Edmond would share my deep sense of pride that our names are associated with such pioneering work, and with such dedicated and inspiring people.”The Edmond and Lily Safra Center for Brain Sciences is at the forefront of the revolution in neuroscience research. Harnessing the extraordinary opportunities created by advances in technology and medicine, ELSC is shaping the next generation of researchers to advance the brain sciences and transform the treatment of neurological and psychiatric disorders.“ELSC is unique in the way it brings together theoretical and experimental researchers to develop pioneering approaches to brain science,” said Professor Menahem Ben-Sasson, President of the Hebrew University. “The Hebrew University is grateful to Mrs. Lily Safra and the Edmond J. Safra Philanthropic Foundation for their leadership in this historic initiative to unlock the mysteries of the brain.”Lord Norman Foster, the award-winning Founder and Executive Chairman of the British architectural firm Foster + Partners, which designed the new center, will participate in the gala event.“The project for the Edmond and Lily Safra Center for Brain Sciences is much like a city in microcosm, with some of the same challenges: how do we best create a sense of community, share knowledge, bring people together, and support collective endeavors towards common goals? The building works flexibly, accommodating a diverse range of requirements from customizable, individual workstations to a central courtyard that is the social heart, breaking the traditional mold of learning and making the process more collaborative. It is a celebration of the brain, and of the vital work that is carried out by the researchers here,” said Lord Foster.The 14,500 square meter center will include state-of-the-art labs, classrooms, an innovative imaging center, and areas for biological and pre-clinical research. Significant emphasis was placed on constructing an environmentally-friendly building with a focus on conserving energy and reducing carbon dioxide emissions.Professor Israel Nelken, Co-Director of the Edmond and Lily Safra Center for Brain Sciences, and the Milton z”l and Brindell Gottlieb Professor of Brain Science, said: “At the Edmond and Lily Safra Center for Brain Sciences, scientists follow an interdisciplinary agenda to uncover the causal links between genes, neurons, and circuits from which cognition and behavior emerge, paving the way to a wide spectrum of future applications, from clever gadgets that improve quality of life to better health care.”ELSC scientists have already paved a way towards a fundamental understanding of brain processes in health and disease. At the Lab for Understanding Neurons, Professor Idan Segev, the David & Inez Myers Professor in Computational Neuroscience, uses mathematical tools to digitally reconstruct a whole piece of cortical circuits using powerful computers. Using these models his team recently discovered rich structures or connectivity previously unknown. These “hidden” circuit structures pose constraints on how sensory information is processed in the neocortex. Professor Merav Ahissar, the Joseph H. and Belle Braun Professor of Psychology, with a longstanding interest in studying dyslexia, recently found that a central problem for dyslexics is forming prediction, a fundamental aspect of brain computing that governs our behaviors.ELSC’s young generation of researchers is also studying the brain at unprecedented resolutions. Dr. Ami Citri, for example, received the prestigious $100,000 Adelis Brain Research Award for his outstanding work in the field of experience-dependent plasticity and its impact on diagnosis and treatment of psychiatric disorders. Most projects are led by ELSC’s Ph.D. students, an elite group of young scholars.About the Edmond and Lily Safra Center for Brain Sciences  ELSC’s mission is to achieve a comprehensive understanding of brain mechanisms by developing a thriving interface between theoretical and experimental neuroscience. By building bridges across disciplines—combining high-resolution studies of local neuronal circuits (from genes to neurons and synapses) with a global theory of the brain’s computational principles—ELSC aims to be at the forefront of neuroscience research worldwide. ELSC was founded with the generous support of the Edmond J. Safra Philanthropic Foundation, which supports hundreds of organizations in more than 40 countries around the world. For more information, please visit http://elsc.huji.ac.il.
Medicine/Health
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Researchers Get Head Start on Gene That Protects the Brain...

Increased levels of a micro-RNA could have a protective effect explaining why identical stressors trigger seizures in some people but not in others.June 5, 2017 — On December 16, 1997, hundreds of Japanese children were brought to a hospital suffering from epilepsy-like seizures. They all had one thing in common: they had been watching an episode of the Pokémon TV show when their symptoms began. Doctors determined that their symptoms were triggered by five seconds of intensely bright flashing lights on the popular TV program. But why did the lights affect a few hundred children while thousands of other viewers were unharmed?In new research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a team of researchers headed by Professor Hermona Soreq at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem sought to answer this question. Drawing on her previous research, Professor Soreq, the Charlotte Slesinger Professor of Molecular Neuroscience at the Edmond and Lily Safra Center for Brain Sciences and the Alexander Silberman Institute of Life Sciences, hypothesized that healthy brains may be protected from epileptic seizures by rapidly produced molecules called short RNAs, or microRNAs (miRs). MicroRNAs are a recently discovered class of non-coding RNAs that can prevent genes from expressing particular proteins.To test this idea, Soreq and her colleagues at the Hebrew University developed a transgenic model producing unusually high amounts of one micro-RNA called miR-211, which the researchers predicted was involved. The levels of this molecule could be gradually lowered by administering the antibiotic Doxycycline, enabling tests of its potency to avoid epilepsy.Working with colleagues at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel and Dalhousie University in Canada, they suppressed excess miR-211 production in the engineered models to the levels found in normal brains. Within four days, this caused the models to display electrically-recorded epilepsy and hypersensitivity to epilepsy-inducing compounds. “Dynamic changes in the amount of miR-211 in the forebrains of these models shifted the threshold for spontaneous and pharmacologically induced seizures, alongside changes in the cholinergic pathway genes,” said Professor Soreq.These findings indicated that mir-211 plays a beneficial role in protecting the brain from epileptic seizures in the engineered models.Noting that miR-211 is known to be elevated in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients who are at high risk for epilepsy, the researchers suspect that in human brains as well, elevated miR-211 may act as a protective mechanism to reduce the risk of epileptic seizures.“It is important to discover how only some people’s brains present a susceptibility to seizures, while others do not, even when subjected to these same stressors,” said Professor Soreq. In searching for the physiological mechanisms that allow some people’s brains to avoid epilepsy, we found that increased levels of micro-RNA 211 could have a protective effect.”According to the researchers, recognizing the importance of miR-211 could open new avenues for diagnosing and interfering with epilepsy. By understanding how miR-211 affects seizure thresholds, scientists could potentially develop therapeutics that lead to greater miR-211–production.Participating researchers are affiliated with the following institutions: The Alexander Silberman Institute of Life Sciences and The Edmond and Lily Safra Center for Brain Sciences at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel; Department of Physiology and Cell Biology and Department of Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Zlotowski Center for Neuroscience, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev; and Department of Medical Neuroscience, Dalhousie University, Canada. The authors thank the Netherlands Brain Bank for human-derived samples.
Humanities
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Youth Summit for Peace Takes Place in Jerusalem

July 2, 2017 — 75 Christian, Jewish and Muslim youth from around the world gathered at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem for a unique summit, in answer to Pope Francis’ call to create a culture of encounter for peace. Students ages 15 and 16 from Argentina, Brazil, Burundi, Congo, Kenya, Mexico, Spain, and other countries joined their Palestinian and Israeli counterparts for four days of learning through arts, sports, technology, and living together.

Students from Burundi and Congo perform a song in Swahili at the opening ceremony of the Interreligious Citizenship Encounter. The female singer from Burundi’s name is “Shalom.” (Credit: Scholas Occurentes)

At the opening ceremony, young people expressed their hopes for peace through a variety of artistic presentations. Students from Burundi and Congo performed a song in Swahili; Palestinian students from Beit Hanina performed “Imagine” by John Lennon, and Israeli students from the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance sang of peace in Hebrew.Three senior religious leaders, representing the three Abrahamic faiths, gave opening benedictions as part of an interreligious prayer for peace: Kadi Iyad Zahalka, The Kadi of Jerusalem and the Head of the Sharia Courts of Israel; His Eminence Mons. Giuseppe Lazzarotto, Apostolic Nuncio to Israel; and Rabbi Dr. Shlomo Dov Rosen, the Rabbi of Yakar Congregation in Jerusalem.

Palestinian students perform at the opening ceremony (Credit: Scholas Occurentes)

The summit, from July 2-5, 2017, is co-organized by the Pontifical Scholas Occurrentes (“Scholas”) and the Harry S. Truman Research Institute for the Advancement of Peace (“Truman Institute”) at the Hebrew University. Within the framework of this gathering, two major events are taking place: “
Scholas Chairs International Congress 2017: Between University and School – Peacebuilding through Culture of Encounter” and “Interreligious Citizenship Encounter.”The closing ceremony on Wednesday, July 5 is expected to include greetings from Pope Francis, together with the planting of a traditional olive tree for peace in his name, as students describe their experiences and present their works of art and their social projects.Among the dignitaries present representing Scholas Occurentes were José María del Corral, President of the Pontifical Foundation Scholas Occurrentes; and for the Holy See, His Eminence Mons. Angelo Zani, General Secretary of the Congregation For Catholic Education and His Eminence Mons. Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo, Vice President of Pontifical Foundation Scholas Occurrentes and Great Chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences.

Religious leaders pose with organizers of the Interreligious Citizenship Encounter (Credit: Scholas Occurentes)

Attending from the Hebrew University were Professor Menahem Ben-Sasson, President; Professor Asher Cohen, Rector and President-elect; Amb. Yossi Gal, Vice President for Advancement and External Relations; and Ms. Naama Shpeter, Executive Director of the Truman Institute and Conference Chair.Speaking at a meeting with leaders of Scholas and the Hebrew University at his residence on February 7, Pope Francis said: “Religion can bring us together and teach us to create the bonds of friendship. With the intuition of Scholas and the intelligence and history of the Hebrew University, I am sure that this will produce great changes in the world.”Scholas (http://web.scholasoccurrentes.org/en) is an international educational organization created by Pope Francis when he was Archbishop of Buenos Aires, which was adopted as a global youth project of the Vatican, to educate young people in the commitment for the common good.The Truman Institute (http://truman.huji.ac.il) is the first and largest research institute in the Middle East to examine conflict resolution and propose peaceful solutions for the region, and fostering discussion and understanding on the challenges facing Israelis and Palestinians and the citizens of the developing world. 
Leadership
NEWS

Marc O. Mayer, AFHU Board President 2017

Marc O. Mayer was elected President of the Board of Directors of American Friends of the Hebrew University during a meeting of the AFHU National Board in New York City on Sunday, May 21, 2017. Daniel I. Schlessinger, who served as President of AFHU for two terms, was appointed Board Chairman.Marc Mayer heads North American Distribution at Schroders plc, a company that manages $520 billion in global assets. An active lay leader who champions varied causes related to education and the arts, Mayer has been involved with AFHU for more than two decades. He has served on the National Board and Northeast Region Board, previously chaired the Audit Committee, and until May 2017, served as Campaign Chair. He is a member of the Executive, Audit, and Investment Committees. Dedicated to the Hebrew University’s academic and research community of 1,000 faculty and 23,000 students, Mr. Mayer is a Governor of the Hebrew University’s International Board of Governors and serves on the University’s Executive Committee.Marc and his wife Meera Mayer are Benefactors of the university and received the Maimonides Award in 2007 in recognition of their humanitarianism and leadership. In 2016, Marc Mayer and Patricia L. Glaser, Vice Chairman of AFHU’s Western Region, co-chaired an AFHU National Mission to Israel. He recently served on the Advisory Committee for Nexus:Israel, Hybrid Solutions to Global Challenges, an innovation conference showcasing technologies developed at Hebrew University in fields such as cybersecurity, food safety, and neuroscience.Prior to joining Schroders plc, Mr. Mayer was a partner and CEO of GMO LLC, a privately owned global investment management firm. He joined GMO in 2009 after 20 years at AllianceBernsteinLP and its predecessor firm, the privately owned Sanford C. Bernstein & Co., Inc. Mr. Mayer was a partner and member of the Bernstein Board of Directors. Before joining Sanford Bernstein, he worked at the Squibb Corporation for six years in strategic planning, business development, marketing and marketing research. Marc Mayer earned his B.A. in Philosophy from Yale University and received an M.B.A. from Columbia Business School.Stated AFHU Chairman, Daniel I. Schlessinger: “We are privileged to have Marc’s exemplary leadership in support of Hebrew University and Israel. In addition to being a consummate professional and expert in his field, Marc has a profound commitment to advancing higher education. We are honored to have his service.” Engaged in numerous civic, educational and cultural activities, Marc Mayer serves on the Board of Overseers of Columbia Business School. He serves on the Board and Executive Committee of the Berklee College of Music in Boston, where he chairs the Finance and Budget Committee. He is on the Board and Executive Committee of Saint Ann’s School in Brooklyn Heights, where he serves as Treasurer. He is a trustee emeritus of the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, whose board he previously chaired.Meera Mayer, an Executive Director at Morgan Stanley, is similarly dedicated to lay leadership, serving on the Advisory Board of the Chazen Institute for Global Business at Columbia Business School. She plays an active role in Women in Science at Rockefeller University. The Mayers have three children and a tortoise and reside in New York City.
Science/Technology
NEWS

How Glowing Soil Can Help Find Land Mines

In a time when there is much talk of a “Mother of All Bombs” and the possibility of a conflict involving nuclear weapons, a landmine can seem an artifact of conflicts past, a weapon that has little to do with mass destruction.And yet, the prosaic device continues to induce its own form of terror around the world, sometimes long after wars have ended. In 2015, the number of people killed or maimed by land mines and other explosive remnants of war rose to 6,461, an increase of 75 percent, according to the 2016 Landmine Monitor. The big jump was largely related to conflicts in Afghanistan, Syria, Libya, Ukraine and Yemen.Almost 80 percent of the victims were civilians, and nearly 40 percent were children.Since an international Mine Ban Treaty went into effect in 1999,  tens of millions of anti-personnel mines have been destroyed. But almost 110 million remain buried in fields and forests, reports the Landmine Monitor, which also estimates the expense of removing a mine—one that might have cost as little as $3 to make—could be as high as $1,000.When mines moveAs costly and methodical a process as it is to extract mines, it’s even more challenging to find them. Reliable technology has been slow to evolve beyond the conventional metal detector, and in some places, giant rats are still the detection method of choice.Engineers at the German Ruhr-Universität Bochum and Technical University Ilmenau are making progress in developing a ground-penetrating radar technology, with the goal of one day implementing it through a handheld device. Building a prototype could take several years, however.In Israel, scientists at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem have taken a very different approach—they’re relying on genetically-engineered bacteria to do the job. In a study recently published in Nature Biotechnology, the team of researchers reported that they were able to create microbes that produce fluorescent molecules when they come into contact with vapors that leak from the explosive component in mines.Along with nutrients and water, the engineered E. coli bacteria were encased in polymer beads only three millimeters in diameter. The beads were scattered over a test field where explosives were buried. Then 24 hours later, using a laser scanning system, the scientists were able to locate the mines based on where the soil was glowing.“Once you know where a mine is, it’s not that difficult to neutralize it,” says Aharon Agranat, who oversaw the design and construction of the remote scanning system. “The problem is to know where it is. Things like weather conditions and mudslides can cause mines to move over the years. They’re not always in the same place as where they were first buried.”
These luminous microbial beads demonstrate the fluorescent signal produced by the bacteria.
In what he describes as “quintessential multidisciplinary research,” Agranat, an applied physicist, worked closely with Shimshon Belkin, a microbiologist who created the bacterial sensors, and Amos Nussinovitch, a biochemist who encapsulated the microbes in the polymer beads. They loaded about 100,000 vapor-detecting cells inside each bead. The laser in Agranat’s detection system was able to locate the explosives while mounted on a cart about 70 feet away.“The advantage of fluorescence is that we can have the laser detect only that light,” he explains, “and not any light reflected from the ground, or from the moon, or from lights nearby. That light doesn’t respond to our laser beam. So, we can work outdoors. This proved to be very effective.”Taking on challengesTheir research at this point, Agranat acknowledges, is at the proof-of-concept stage. They’ve shown that their process can work, but both acknowledge there are challenges they still need to overcome before it could be used widely.Belkin says they have to make the sensor bacteria even more sensitive and stable, and need to increase the scanning speed to deal with large areas that contain land mines.“There are many assumptions that are involved in the success of this methodology,” Agranat notes. “For starters, is it a given that the vapors released by the mine will reach the surface, or that enough will reach the surface that it can be detected?”There are other questions. “We need to know what happens in different minefields,” says Agranat. “The way they’re in the ground varies from place to place, the climate conditions are different, the type of soil is different, the type of mines is different.“What needs to be done now is to see how effective this is going to be in all those different situations.”
This is the laser-based scanning system used to locate buried land mines.
One more challenge is to be able to shrink the size of the scanning equipment so that it can be carried by a light unmanned aircraft or a drone, allowing larger areas to be surveyed.But they continue to make progress. Now, they say they can detect explosives only three hours after the bacteria-filled beads are spread across a field. They’re also programming the bacteria to have a limited life span to ease any concerns about introducing genetically engineered microbes into the environment.More research certainly needs to be done, but Agranat is encouraged by the results so far.“As far as I know, this is the first case of remote sensing of buried land mines,” he says. “Most of the questions relate to things like cost effectiveness. But there is no showstopper we can point to.”Read the source article at Smithsonian.com
Medicine/Health
NEWS

Hebrew University Looks for High Impact with New Cannabinoid...

The Hebrew University announced the launch of a Multidisciplinary Center on Cannabinoid Research. The new Center will serve as one of the world’s leading institutes for conducting and coordinating research about cannabinoids, endocannabinoids, and medical Cannabis. In addition, it will promote collaboration and disseminate information. Staffed by some of the world’s leading scientists and medical doctors from the Hebrew University and its affiliated Hadassah Medical Center, the Multidisciplinary Center is already supporting exciting new research. In February 2017, the Center awarded funding to three research projects:—The effects of CBD on traumatic brain injury (Professor Rami Yaka & Professor Oren Ostresetzer)—The anti-angiogenic and anti-cancer activity of cannabinoid receptor 2 (CB2) agonists (Dr. Ofra Benny)—Effect of a Cannabis extract on acute radicular pain and on analgesics (Professor Elyad Davidson)“The establishment in Israel of the Multidisciplinary Center on Cannabinoid Research is of great relevance at this time since both academic institutions and pharmaceutical companies worldwide are channeling enormous efforts to basic and clinical research in this field,” said Dr. Joseph (Yossi) Tam, Director of the Hebrew University’s Multidisciplinary Center on Cannabinoid Research, and Head of the Obesity and Metabolism Laboratory at the Hebrew University’s Institute for Drug Research in the Faculty of Medicine.The Center’s research will focus on the following areas: CancerPainInflammation & Stress ManagementImmunityMetabolismDrug Delivery & NanotechnologyPharmaceutical ChemistryNeuroscience; and Plant Science & Genetics.

Dr. Yossi Tam

Along with integrating the research activities of multiple Hebrew University research laboratories into interdisciplinary networks, the Center, which relies on the infrastructure of the Institute for Drug Research at the School of Pharmacy in the Faculty of Medicine, will also foster collaborations between its participating laboratories and other well-established research groups around the globe.“We feel incredibly fortunate to team up with a vast number of scientists working together on this expanding field of medicine with the significant potential to discover new therapies based on cannabinoids,” said Dr. Tam.Until very recently, the Cannabis plant and its extracts (popularly called marijuana, hashish, weed, and grass) were mostly frowned upon as purely recreational drugs. However, over the last 50 years, Professor Raphael Mechoulam at the Hebrew University has spearheaded a new scientific era of Cannabis research. Professor Mechoulam, along with his colleagues, isolated the active constituent of the Cannabis plant, tetrahydrocannabinol, elucidated its structure and synthesized it. Later he identified the endogenous cannabinoids (formed in the mammalian body) and thus pioneered the field of cannabinoid research.“It has been shown that modulating endocannabinoid activity has therapeutic potential in a large number of human diseases, hence research on cannabinoids may lead to very significant advances, not only in basic science but also in therapeutics. Our Multidisciplinary Center addresses many aspects in this promising area, such as cancer, head injury, addiction, bone formation, obesity and others,” said Professor Raphael Mechoulam, Head of the Academic Committee of the Multidisciplinary Center, and the Lionel Jacobson Professor Emeritus of Medicinal Chemistry in the Hebrew University’s Faculty of Medicine.The Center’s teams of highly qualified researchers comprise Heads of Labs and Research Groups ranging through Nano-Medicine & Nano Delivery Systems, Tumor Micro-environment, Neurobiology, Pain Relief & Plasticity, Molecular Modeling & Drug Design, Immuno-pharmacology, Free Radicals, Stress, and Plant Pathogen Interactions.The Center’s informational resources include a World Calendar of Cannabinoids, featuring information about major upcoming events in the field of cannabinoid research.
Humanities
NEWS

Hebrew University Archaeologists Find 12th Dead Sea Scrolls...

February 8, 2017 – Excavations in a cave on the cliffs west of Qumran, near the northwestern shore of the Dead Sea, prove that Dead Sea scrolls from the Second Temple period were hidden in the cave, and were looted by Bedouins in the middle of the last century. With the discovery of this cave, scholars now suggest that it should be numbered as Cave 12.
Ziad Abu Ganem and student filter material from cave
The surprising discovery, representing a milestone in Dead Sea Scroll research, was made by Dr. Oren Gutfeld and Ahiad Ovadia from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Institute of Archaeology, with the help of Dr. Randall Price and students from Liberty University in Virginia.The excavators are the first in over 60 years to discover a new scroll cave and to properly excavate it.The excavation was supported by the Civil Administration of Judea and Samaria, by the Israel Nature and Parks Authority, and the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA), and is a part of the new “Operation Scroll” launched at the IAA by its Director-General, Mr. Israel Hasson, to undertake systematic surveys and to excavate the caves in the Judean Desert.
 

Excavation of the cave revealed that at one time it contained Dead Sea scrolls. Numerous storage jars and lids from the Second Temple period were found hidden in niches along the walls of the cave and deep inside a long tunnel at its rear. The jars were all broken and their contents removed, and the discovery towards the end of the excavation of a pair of iron pickaxe heads from the 1950s (stored within the tunnel for later use) proves the cave was looted.
Cloth that was used for wrapping the scrolls
Until now, it was believed that only 11 caves had contained scrolls. With the discovery of this cave, scholars have now suggested that it would be numbered as Cave 12. Like Cave 8, in which scroll jars but no scrolls were found, this cave will receive the designation Q12 (the Q=Qumran standing in front of the number to indicate no scrolls were found).“This exciting excavation is the closest we’ve come to discovering new Dead Sea scrolls in 60 years. Until now, it was accepted that Dead Sea scrolls were found only in 11 caves at Qumran, but now there is no doubt that this is the 12th cave,” said Dr. Oren Gutfeld, an archaeologist at the Hebrew University’s Institute of Archaeology and director of the excavation. “Finding this additional scroll cave means we can no longer be certain that the original locations (Caves 1 through 11) attributed to the Dead Sea scrolls that reached the market via the Bedouins are accurate.”Dr. Gutfeld added: “Although at the end of the day no scroll was found, and instead we ‘only’ found a piece of parchment rolled up in a jug that was being processed for writing, the findings indicate beyond any doubt that the cave contained scrolls that were stolen. The findings include the jars in which the scrolls and their covering were hidden, a leather strap for binding the scroll, a cloth that wrapped the scrolls, tendons, and pieces of skin connecting fragments, and more.”The finds from the excavation include not only the storage jars, which held the scrolls, but also fragments of scroll wrappings, a string that tied the scrolls, and a piece of worked leather that was a part of a scroll. The finding of pottery and of numerous flint blades, arrowheads, and a decorated stamp seal made of carnelian, a semi-precious stone, also revealed that this cave was used in the Chalcolithic and the Neolithic periods.This first excavation to take place in the northern part of the Judean Desert as part of “Operation Scroll” will open the door to further understanding the function of the caves with respect to the scrolls, with the potential of finding new scroll material. The material, when published, will provide important new evidence for scholars of the archaeology of Qumran and the Dead Sea caves.

“The important discovery of another scroll cave attests to the fact that a lot of work remains to be done in the Judean Desert and finds of huge importance are still waiting to be discovered,” said Israel Hasson, Director-General of the Israel Antiquities Authority. “We are in a race against time as antiquities thieves steal heritage assets worldwide for financial gain. The State of Israel needs to mobilize and allocate the necessary resources in order to launch a historic operation, together with the public, to carry out a systematic excavation of all the caves of the Judean Desert.”Photo credits: Casey L. Olson and Oren Gutfeld 
Agriculture
NEWS

Int’l team including Hebrew U scientists restore flavor to...

Remember the good old days when tomatoes used to taste like... tomatoes, with a lot of flavor? In pursuit of longer shelf life, enhanced firmness and disease resistance, modern commercial tomatoes have gradually lost it.After a decade of research, Hebrew University of Jerusalem researchers, as part of an international team that included US, Chinese and Spanish scientists, have identified the chemical compounds and the functional genes that give a tomato – Israelis’ favorite salad component – its great taste.The study, published in the journal Science, has made it possible to produce tomatoes with their good old flavor, alongside other traits that make them attractive to consumers and longer-lasting for shipment around the world.To launch the research, HU’s agriculture faculty contributed 398 tomato varieties from the laboratory of Prof. Dani Zamir at the Institute of Plant Sciences and Genetics in Agriculture. “The varieties, including modern, heirloom and wild relatives of the cultivated tomatoes, were chosen from a collection of some 8,000 tomato that we keep in a seed bank at the lab,” said doctoral student Itay Zemach from Zamir’s lab.Tomato fruit samples the HU team grew in Israel were sent to all participating research groups, each identifying different components. Doctoral student Josef Fisher of the Israeli team measured and analyzed the sugar content, the weight and other morphological characteristics of the tomatoes, such as size and color; in Spain, researchers checked for volatile compounds responsible for tomato aroma; in the US, researchers conducted a taste test to rate the tomato varieties according to their flavor and other traits; and in China researchers sequenced and analyzed the genomes of the various varieties.Through analysis of the chemistry of the tomatoes, researchers identified 13 compounds associated with good flavor. They realized that modern tomatoes lack sufficient sugars and volatile chemicals critical to better flavor. Those factors have been lost during the past 50 years because breeders preferred to put their focus on other traits, most of which negatively correlated to flavor, researchers said.“The research showed a positive correlation between sugar level and taste in the tomato varieties we’ve examined,” Zemach said. “Tasters ranked varieties with high sugar levels as more delicious, and the gene screening showed that the main gene that differs in flavor-enhanced tomatoes is the one that increase the sugar level.”To study how to enhance the flavor in modern tomatoes, they studied “alleles” – the versions of DNA that give a tomato gene its specific traits. Through a genome-wide association study, researchers identified the locations of the good alleles that allow the production of compounds that contribute to tastier tomatoes. After mapping genes that control synthesis of all the important chemicals, they used genetic analysis to replace bad alleles in modern tomato varieties with the good alleles.“We identified the important factors that have been lost and showed how to move them back into the modern types of tomatoes,” said Prof. Harry Klee from the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, who led the international study. This technique involves classical genetics, not genetic modification, he stressed, adding: “We’re just fixing what has been damaged over the last half-century to push them back to where they were a century ago, taste-wise. We can make the supermarket tomato taste noticeably better.”Some of these research results were already implemented in the breeding programs of Zamir’s lab. “After testing the varieties at Zamir’s lab, it appears possible to breed for tastier tomatoes with other excellent quality characteristics,” Zemach said.Read the source article at Jpost
Science/Technology
NEWS

New Method for Converting Solar Energy into Electrical Power

A new paradigm for the development of photo-bioelectrochemical cells has been reported in the journal Nature Energy by researchers from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, in Israel, and the University of Bochum, in Germany.The design of photo-bioelectrochemical cells based on native photosynthetic reaction is attracting substantial recent interest as a means for the conversion of solar light energy into electrical power.In the natural photosynthetic apparatus, photosynthetic reaction is coupled to biocatalytic transformations leading to CO2 fixation and O2 evolution. Although significant progress has been achieved in the integration of native photosystems with electrodes for light-to-electrical energy conversion, the conjugation of the photosystems to enzymes to yield photo-bioelectrocatalytic solar cells remains a challenge.Now, researchers report on the construction of photo-bioelectrochemical cells using the native photosynthetic reaction and the enzymes glucose oxidase or glucose dehydrogenase.  The system consists of modified integrated electrodes that include the natural photosynthetic reaction center, known as photosystem I, conjugated to the enzymes glucose oxidase or glucose dehydrogenase.  The native proteins are electrically wired by means of chemical electron transfer mediators.  Photoirradiation of the electrodes leads to the generation of electrical power while oxidizing the glucose substrate acting as a fuel.The system provides a model to harness the native photosynthetic apparatus for the conversion of solar light energy into electrical power, using biomass substrates as fuels.  In contrast to numerous bioelectrochemical systems using electrical power to oxidize glucose, the present study introduces the implementation of the native photosystem to produce electrical power using light as the energy source.The novel photo-bioelectrochemical cells point to a new method to photonically drive biocatalytic fuel cells while generating electrical power from solar energy.Professor Itamar Willner, at the Hebrew University’s Institute of Chemistry, said: “The study results provide a general approach to assemble photo-bioelectrochemical solar cells with wide implications for solar energy conversion, bioelectrocatalysis, and sensing.”The research was headed at the Hebrew University by Professor Itamar Willner, Institute of Chemistry and Minerva Center for Biohybrid Complex Systems, in collaboration with Professor Rachel Nechushtai, Alexander Silberman Institute of Life Sciences and Minerva Center for Biohybrid Complex Systems; and at Ruhr-Universität Bochum, by Professor Wolfgang Schuhmann, Analytical Chemistry, Center for Electrochemical Sciences (CES).CITATION: Assembly of photo-bioelectrochemical cells using photosystem I-functionalized electrodes. Ariel Efrati, Chun-Hua Lu, Dorit Michaeli, Rachel Nechushtai, Sabine Alsoub, Wolfgang Schuhmann & Itamar Willner. Nature Energy Article number: 15021 (2016).  doi:10.1038/nenergy.2015.21.
Science/Technology
NEWS

Mobileye at the Vanguard of the Revolution in Autonomous...

Mobileye, the Israeli automotive technology company, like other makers of breakthrough products, is reverential about its mission, using terms such as “revolutionary” and “saving lives.”

The company’s core product is a chip that uses painstakingly puzzled-out algorithms to interpret data fed via a camera mounted inside a car, to help it make split-second decisions on braking, its position in a lane or how to respond to traffic signs.“Autonomous driving is a revolution, and we are changing the way people will drive in the future,” says Ziv Aviram, Mobileye’s chief executive, who runs the company from its headquarters in a Jerusalem business park.
Mobileye’s description of itself is not hype: the company has built an $8bn-plus company in a decade and a half by developing advanced driver assistance systems that, one by one, are taking human error — the main reason for most road accidents — out of cars.“We are part of a success story — a common goal of saving lives,” says Ofer Maharshak, chief financial officer, describing what he says is a strong esprit de corps among Mobileye’s more than 450 employees.The company’s products have been built into some 5.2m vehicles, introducing features such as autonomous braking to prevent a crash, or alerts when a driver is getting too close to a pedestrian or other vehicle.These types of features were premiered in top-end cars but are quickly filtering down to the mass market and will soon become as standard a feature in new vehicles as anti-lock brakes.Euro NCAP, the European safety standards assessment body, has made autonomous emergency braking part of the system for cars seeking its top five-star rating. The US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is adopting similar standards, which should bring in ample business for Mobileye in years to come.These braking systems are just one of many autonomous driving features that will allow cars to detect traffic lights, animals and pedestrians, and — very soon — to drive for long stretches on their own, giving drivers the chance to take their hands off the wheel and immerse themselves in email or other tasks.

Tesla Motors, the California-based electric car maker, has announced it will introduce an autonomous vehicle incorporating Mobileye technology this year. The Israeli company says it will supply its system to another two unnamed carmakers with self-driving cars in the production phase and another five that have cars under development.

“We are at an exciting time in the life of Mobileye,” Amnon Shashua, the company’s professorial, somewhat geeky chairman said in a recent corporate film teaser in which he previewed Mobileye’s coming technology. The film showed him in the driving seat of a car zipping down a motorway, with his hands off the wheel as he gazed sideways away from the road.To continue reading the article, visit the Financial Times here.
Medicine/Health
NEWS

Scientists Map Brains of the Blind to Solve Mysteries of...

Studying the brain activity of blind people, scientists at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem are challenging the standard view of how the human brain specializes to perform different kinds of tasks and shedding new light on how our brains can adapt to the rapid cultural and technological changes of the 21st century.Research Highlights:(1) Understanding the brain activity of the blind can help solve one of the oddest phenomena in the human brain: how can tasks such as reading and recognizing numerical symbols have their own brain regions if these concepts were only developed several thousand years ago (which is negligible on an evolutionary timescale)? What was the job of these regions before their invention?(2) New research published in Nature Communications demonstrates that vision is not a prerequisite for “visual” cortical regions to develop these preferences.(3) This stands in contrast to the current main theory explaining this specialization, which suggests these regions were adapted from other visual tasks such as the angles of lines and their intersections.(4) These results show that the required condition is not sensory-based (vision) but rather connectivity- and processing-based. For example, blind people reading Braille using their fingers will still use the “visual” areas.(5) This research uses shows unique connectivity patterns between the visual-number-form-area (VNFA) to quantity-processing areas in the right hemisphere, and between the visual-word-form-area (VWFA) to language-processing areas in the left hemisphere.amira(6) This type of mechanism can help explain how our brain adapts quickly to the changes of our era of constant cultural and technological innovations.The accepted view in previous decades was that the brain is divided into distinct regions mainly by the sensory input that activates them, such as the visual cortex for sight and the auditory cortex for sound. Within these large regions, sub-regions have been defined which are specialized for specific tasks such as the “visual word form area,” a functional brain region believed to identify words and letters from shape images even before they are associated with sounds or meanings. Similarly there is another area that specializes in number symbols.The Amedi Lab is headed by Prof. Amir Amedi in the Department of Medical Neurobiology at The Hebrew University’s Faculty of Medicine. The Lab is also a founding member of The Hebrew University’s Edmond & Lily Safra Center for Brain Science.) Now, a series of studies at Hebrew University’s Amedi Lab for Brain and Multisensory Research challenges this view using unique tools known as Sensory Substitution Devices (SSDs).Sensory Substitution Devices take information from one sense and present it in another, for example enabling blind people to “see” by using other senses such as touching or hearing. By using a smartphone or webcam to translate a visual image into a distinct soundscape, SSDs enable blind users to create a mental image of objects, such as their physical dimensions and color. With intense training (now available online at www.amedilab.com), blind users can even “read” letters by identifying their distinct soundscape.“These devices can help the blind in their everyday life,” explains Prof. Amir Amedi, “but they also open unique research opportunities by letting us see what happens in brain regions normally associated with one sense, when the relevant information comes from another.”Amedi’s team was interested in whether blind subjects using sensory substitution would, like sighted people, use the visual-word-form-area sub-region of the brain to identify shape images, or whether this area is specialized exclusively to visual reading with the eyes.As “A number-form area in the blind,” Sami Abboud and colleagues in the Amedi Lab show that these same “visual” brain regions are used by blind subjects who are actually “seeing” through sound. According to lead researcher Sami Abboud, “These regions are preserved and functional even among the congenitally blind who have never experienced vision.”The researchers used functional MRI imaging (fMRI) to study the brains of blind subjects in real-time while they used an SSD to identify objects by their sound. They found that when it comes to recognizing letters, body postures and more, specialized brain areas are activated by the task at hand, rather than by the sense (vision or hearing) being used.The Amedi team examined a recently-identified area in the brain’s right hemisphere known as the ‘Visual Number Form Area.’ The very existence of such an area, as distinct from the visual-word-form-area, is surprising since symbols such as ‘O’ can be used either as the letter O or as the number Zero, despite being visually identical.Previous attempts to explain why both the word and number areas exist, such as the ‘Neural recycling theory’ by Dehaene and Cohen (2007), suggest that in the far distant past these areas were specialized for other visual tasks such as recognizing small lines, their angles and intersections, and thus were best suited for them. However, this new work shows that congenitally blind users using the sensory substitution devices still have these exact same areas, suggesting that vision is not the key to their development.
Photo by Chen Galili

Photo by Chen Galili

“Beyond the implications for neuroscience theory, these results also offer us hope for visual rehabilitation,” says Amedi. “They suggest that by using the right technology, even non-invasively, we can re-awaken the visually deprived brain to process tasks considered visual, even after many years of blindness.”But if the specific sensory input channel is not the key to developing these brain regions, why do these functions develop in their specific anatomical locations? The new research points to unique connectivity patterns between the visual-word-form-area and language-processing areas, and between the visual-number-form-area and quantity-processing areas.Amedi suggests, “This means that the main criteria for a reading area to develop is not the letters’ visual symbols, but rather the area’s connectivity to the brain’s language-processing centers. Similarly a number area will develop in a region which already has connections to quantity-processing regions.”“If we take this one step further,” adds Amedi, “this connectivity-based mechanism might explain how brain areas could have developed so quickly on an evolutionary timescale. We’ve only been reading and writing for several thousand years, but the connectivity between relevant areas allowed us to create unique new centers for these specialized tasks. This same ‘cultural recycling’ of brain circuits could also be true for how we will adapt to new technological and cultural innovations in the current era of rapid innovation, even approaching the potential of the Singularity.”The research was supported by a European Research Council grant; the Charitable Gatsby Foundation; the James S. McDonnell Foundation scholar award; the Israel Science Foundation; and the Edmond and Lily Safra Center for Brain Sciences (ELSC) Vision center grant. Featured image by Eyal Toueg.