September 9, 2009 American Chemical Society Prize To Be Awarded To Technion President Prof. Yitzhak Apeloig

news_id95The Frederic Stanley Kipping Award of the American Chemical Society is to be awarded to Technion President Prof. Yitzhak Apeloig. This is the first time that an Israeli chemist has won this prize, which is considered the most important prize in the world in silicon chemistry and is awarded once every two years. The American Chemical Society, with some 200,000 members, is the largest and most important organization in the world in the field of chemistry. The prize is to be awarded to the Technion President in March 2010, during the Society’s semi-annual conference, which will take place in San Francisco.

The prize was awarded to Prof. Apeloig, a member of the Schulich Faculty of Chemistry,   for “his groundbreaking achievements, experimental and theoretical, in researching the chemistry of silicon, and especially for his contribution to preparing and understanding the behavior of multi-bonded silicon materials (double and triple connections).” Many believed that these materials could not exist. Prof. Apeloig was one the first to predict in theory the possibility of their existence and afterwards – to synthesize and research their properties

In addition, Prof. Apeloig made a central contribution towards researching the chemistry of silicon-containing, intermediary materials with high activity. The special integration in his research of experimental and theoretical methodologies based on quantum theory led to a deeper understanding of the tremendous and surprising differences in the properties and behavior of carbon and silicon compounds (elements belonging to the same family in the Periodic Table of elements according to which, it was anticipated they would behave similarly). Prof. Apeloig’s research broke ground for new fields and many groups in the world today are researching areas he pioneered.

Two years ago, Prof. Apeloig won the Wacker Silicone Award, the second most prestigious and important prize in silicon chemistry next to the Kipping Award. He won the prize for “his pioneering and groundbreaking achievements in understanding the structure, properties and behavior of organosilicon compounds.”

Organosilicon compounds are not found in nature and are completely man-made. The first compounds from this family were initially produced in the laboratory some 70 years ago for purely academic reasons, by Frederic Stanley Kipping, the pioneer in this field. But almost from the start, as soon as their interesting properties were discovered, they also aroused great interest in industry. Silicones, one of the most important organosilicon materials, have important and unique properties. They are extremely waterproof and therefore are used in preserving structures and as insulation. They do not evoke reactions when in contact with the human body and therefore are commonly used in cosmetic products and various implantations as well as in materials inserted into the body such as catheters and infusions. They also hold up exceptionally well under severe weather conditions and drastic temperature changes. For example, the boots worn by Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon, were made of silicon rubber, which is the only material known to man that can stand up under the extreme conditions on the moon’s surface.

September 9, 2009 International School of Engineering Opens At Technion

The Technion’s Faculty of Civil and Environmental Engineering has launched an International Program in Infrastructure and Environmental Engineering. The program will be conducted in English and is intended for students from abroad. This year, the first class will begin with 23 students and will be, in the words of Prof. Arnon Bentur, dean of the Faculty of Civil and Environmental Engineering: “the nucleus for attaining a vision of setting up an international school in all engineering fields at the Technion, within whose framework, within a decade, will be studying 1,000 students from all corners of the globe.”

The four women students and 19 males come from 14 countries on five continents – North America (the US and Canada), South America (Uruguay and Peru), Europe (Italy, Denmark, France, Spain and Albania), Africa (South Africa, Ghana and Guinea) and Asia (China and India). 30% of the students are from developing countries.

The goals of the new International School are:

  • Training students from abroad in those fields of engineering in which the Technion and Israel lead and have an international reputation.
  • Training graduates from developed and developing countries that will serve as “ambassadors of goodwill” for Israel and will give a boost to Israeli industry in the global market.
  • The Zionist aspect of attracting talented Jewish youth to a program integrating Zionism and engineering studies on an international academic level.
  • An infrastructure for absorbing students from universities abroad for short-term study periods in the framework of various student exchanges.
  • Creating contact between Israeli students and those from abroad with the aim of exposing Israeli students to how things work in the global world.
  • Attracting outstanding students from all over the world as potential candidates for advanced degree studies.

“The curriculum is identical to the Hebrew one in the Faculty of Civil and Environmental Engineering,” added Prof. Bentur. “The field in which we deal – building and infrastructure – is a global one. Many Israeli companies in this field operate abroad. We believe that upon completion of their studies our students will be ambassadors of goodwill for Israel in their countries and some will even be representatives of Israeli companies abroad.” He stressed the reputation and multidisciplinary character of the Faculty of Civil and Environmental Engineering, which enables training engineers on the cutting edge of science and technology in order to answer to needs of the 21st century in infrastructure and environment.

The School’s administrative director, Prof. Amnon Katz, says that, at first, the students will study in a four-month preparatory program, in which they will also learn Hebrew. “We are talking about a bidirectional process. On one hand, we will export the tremendous amount of knowledge accumulated in the Faculty of Civil and Environmental Engineering and in Israel in infrastructure and water and will turn graduates of a program into leaders in their field and ambassadors of goodwill for Israel. On the other hand, our students will benefit from meeting talented students from all over the world.”

The School’s operative manager, Ariel Geva, cited the success in recruiting students, which is a result of the Technion’s international reputation and extensive marketing efforts that included, among other things, visiting leading high schools in the US and Europe, visiting international study fairs and exposure on the Internet. “To all these, we have to add the commitment of the Technion administration to leading this strategic process,” he added. “The students in the International School will receive special attention that will include individualized mentoring in academic and social areas and a social/experience program that will include getting to know Israeli society and the country.”

July 9, 2009 A Tiny Robot Invented to Crawl Through Your Veins

news_id92Scientists at  Israel’s Technion Institute of Technology have created a tiny robot able to crawl through a person’s veins in order to diagnose and potentially treat artery blockage and cancer. The world’s smallest robot, with a diameter of one millimetre, it is powered by an external magnetic field allowing it to be controlled for an unlimited amount of time during medical procedures.

Oded Salomon, a research engineer in the Technion Faculty of Mechanical Engineering’s Kahn Medical Robotics Laboratory, conceived the tiny robot together with Prof. Moshe Shoham and Dr Nir Schwalb, Technion alum of the lab and now a lecturer at the  Ariel  University  Center. Their miniature “submarine” can negotiate the inner walls of blood vessels using tiny arms which will allow it to withstand blood pressure. The robot is powered by an external magnetic field allowing it to be controlled for an unlimited amount of time during medical procedures.

Known as the ViRob, it is an autonomous crawling micro-robot with possible medical applications in:

Neurosurgery – possible treatment of post-hemorrhagic hydrocephalus in preterm infants.

Brachytherapy – a relatively new approach of providing anti-cancer therapy directly to the afflicted region. ViRob may help administer radiotherapy or chemotherapy, directly to the lung or to the prostate.

Imaging – a camera attached to ViRob can travel inside the spinal canal, ureters or bronchi to a given point, and may produce video images for diagnosis.

However, Prof.Shoham explains that a final product will not be ready for several years. A small enough camera needs to be developed, and an actuation device that will steer the robot once inside the body needs to be perfected. Animal trials are being performed, but human trials are about two years away.

July 5, 2009 A Drug to Treat Heart Disease is Developed at CardiAmit, the first company established by the Alfred Mann Institute at Technion

The Alfred Mann Institute for Biomedical Development at the Technion (AMIT) has established its first company – CardiAmit, which is developing a new drug to protect the heart muscle.

The drug is based on a new cardioprotective molecule that has the ability to protect heart cells against damage and death resulting from ischemia – for example, damage caused by heart attacks. The potential world market for this drug is estimated to be billions of dollars annually.

The development of the molecule as a drug protecting heart muscle started in 2004 and was carried out by Prof. Ofer Binah, Prof. Moussa Youdim (who together with Prof. John Finberg developed Teva’s drug Azilect for treating Parkinson’s disease), Prof. Zaid Abassi and Dr. Yaron Barac, all of whom are from the Technion’s Rappaport Faculty of Medicine. Two years ago, the project joined the Alfred Mann Institute at the Technion and since then, has progressed significantly.

The drug’s efficacy was demonstrated in a number of animal models, among them models that simulate heart attacks with or without catheterization, cardiac congestion heart failure and cardiac damage caused by chemotherapy. In all the models that were tested, the molecule demonstrated impressive results and decreased the cardiac damage by tens of percentages. In safety tests carried out in the Technion’s Faculty of Medicine and in other labs and institutes in Israel and abroad, specializing in such tests, no side effects or damages were observed.

June 17, 2009 Prestigious Frontiers of Knowledge Prize Awarded To Prof. Jacob Ziv of the Technion

Professor Jacob Ziv
Professor Jacob Ziv

Prof. Jacob Ziv won the Frontiers of Knowledge Award in Information and Communication Technologies for 2008. “Prof. Jacob Ziv’s groundbreaking innovations in data compression have had a deep and lasting impact on both the theory and practice of communications and information technology,” said the Foundation’s judges in their decision. “Ubiquitous in everyday life, Prof. Ziv’s contributions enable efficient storage and transmission of text, data, images, and video. Data compression technologies in computer memories, modems, software distribution and file compression techniques all rely on Prof. Ziv’s ideas and inventions. His seminal contributions to information theory have inspired generations of researchers and practitioners alike… This award recognizes the fundamental role of his work in creating technologies that widely and deeply impact on the information age.”

Lossless compression (compression without losing information), which was developed by Prof. Jacob Ziv and Prof. Abraham Lempel of the Technion, enables reproducing in its entirety information that has been transmitted or saved, thus ensuring that its quality is identical to that of the original. The Lempel-Ziv technique is the most widespread method of this kind of compression and is found in popular compression formats such as GZIP, GIF and TIFF.

Prof. Ziv, a Distinguished Research Professor Emeritus in the Technion’s Faculty of Electrical Engineering, is a former President of the Israel Academy of Sciences, a member of the leading American and European scientific societies, the most important of which are the US National Academy of Sciences, the US National Academy of Engineering and the US Society of Philosophy. He is also a recipient of the International Marconi Award, named after the inventor of the radio.

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