Canadian Jewish News Paul Lungen, Staff Reporter, Monday, November 18, 2013
Among the many calumnies faced by the State of Israel is the claim that it’s an apartheid state. In some quarters, that allegation has prompted calls for an academic boycott of Israeli universities and colleges.
Yet on Jan. 3, 2014, the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, headquartered in Haifa, will launch its first ever “massive online open course,” or MOOC, in the Arabic language.
The course on nano-technology will be led by Hossam Haick, a faculty member in the Technion’s chemical engineering department who is an Arab.
So far, students from Saudi Arabia, Syria, Abu Dhabi, the Gulf Emirates and even Canada have registered to take the course, said Technion president Peretz Lavie.
On Sunday, November 10, 2013, Technion Canada held its Annual General meeting at the Park Hyatt Hotel in Toronto. Elections were held for the Technion Canada Board of Directors and 24 Technion supporters were elected to serve as Directors of Technion Canada. The Officers elected for 2013-2014 are: Chair – Doreen Green; President – Marvin Ostin; Vice President – Edward Nagel; Treasurer – Harold Garfinkle; Secretary – Neil Closner; Officers at Large – Julian Brass and Ben Wygodny. Following completion of the business at hand, the Directors and several other invited guests were treated to an exciting presentation by Technion President, Prof. Peretz Lavie. Prof. Lavie shared some thoughts he had as to what the most memorable moment of his Presidency might be – in Stockholm witnessing the awarding of a Noble Prize to a Technion Professor or in New York at the signing of the Partnership between Technion and Cornell to create the Technion-Cornell Innovation Institute or just recently in Israel, for the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the Technion and Shantou University (STU) to launch TGIT, a new academic facility in Guangdong Province,the most populous of China’s 22 provinces along with a $130,000,000. donation to the Technion by the Li Ka Shing Foundation (LKSF).The gift from LKSF is the largest ever to the Technion and one of the most generous in the history of Israeli higher education. It will be used for strengthening Technion’s Haifa campus, for the benefit of its students and researchers.
Technion – University of Toronto Comprehensive Research Experience for Medical Students (CREMS) Programs is meant to be a unique research program in Canada that allows interested medical students to gain extracurricular research experiences in various structured programs without interrupting their medical studies. As part of the CREMS programs, a longitudinal program (20 months) was established where participants receive formal recognition for successful completion. Also, the opportunity for a shorter summer program of research experience (10-12 weeks) was expanded. Specifically, the objectives of these programs are to meet the needs of medical students to explore research and gain valuable research experience, to prepare medical students for a career as a physician with a good research foundation and understanding of biomedical research, and to engage and encourage students to consider a career as a clinician-scientist.
The goal of this program is to support the paradigm of fostering international scientific research communication and collaboration at a very formative stage of student training between the Ruth & Bruce Rappaport Faculty of Medicine at the Technion‐Israel Institute of Technology and the Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto. These two medical schools have excellent and well recognized medical educational programs producing graduates who are not only top clinicians, but also leading clinician‐scientists in health research. Both schools have faculty members who provide enormous breadth and depth in basic and applied biomedical research.
The 2013 Luncheon at the University of Toronto Faculty Club took place on September 24. Pictured are: Dr. George Fantus, Head of CREMS Program, Professor Mojgan Hodaie, Staff Neurosurgeon at Toronto Western Hospital, Sapir Bar – CREMS Technion Student, Thomas Berk – CREMS UofT Mississauga Medical Student and Inna Genkin – CREMS UofT Medical Student
The gift is the largest ever to the Technion and one of the most generous in the history of Israeli higher education. A new era of research and innovation in science, engineering, and life sciences is opening in China with a joint venture between Israel’s prestigious Technion – Israel Institute of Technology – and Shantou University (STU) to build a new academic facility in Guangdong Province.
Here’s the letter transcript:
September 29, 2013
Dear friends and members of the Technion worldwide family,
I am delighted to announce that the Technion and China’s Shantou University have agreed to establish the Technion–Guangdong Institute of Technology (TGIT).
This landmark collaboration was made possible by a $130 million donation to the Technion by the charitable foundation of prominent Hong Kong entrepreneur and philanthropist Mr. Li Ka-shing, combined with a strategic investment of RMB 900 million (approximately $150 million) by the Guangdong Province to develop and operate the new institute – for an overall total of about $280 million. Moreover, a technological park will be built in close proximity to the TGIT campus, that will serve as a bridgehead for Israeli companies interested in the Chinese market.
The $130 million gift by the Li Ka Shing Foundation will be allocated to strengthening the Technion’s home campus in Haifa, for the benefit of our students and researchers. This remarkable donation is the single largest gift ever to the Technion, and one of the most generous ever received by an Israeli institution.
A number of leading universities from the U.S., U.K. and Australia have already launched academic programs in China, but the Technion is the first university whose China campus and operation will be fully funded by Chinese resources.
The Technion project in Guangdong is fully aligned with the policy of recent Israeli governments that have devoted much attention and efforts to broaden and strengthen Israel – China relations at all levels. The Israeli Council of Higher Education has declared the development of academic collaborations with China a strategic goal and has even allocated resources for scholarships to Chinese students coming to study in Israel. Prime Minister Netanyahu visited China in May of this year and has signed a number of commercial cooperation agreements. During and after his visit, both PM Netanyahu and his Chinese hosts have given their enthusiastic blessing to additional collaboration agreements between the two countries.
The idea for the Technion-Shantou collaboration first arose during a meeting I had with Mr. Li Ka-shing about two years ago, and evolved over time through intense negotiations that were carried out successfully by Senior Executive Vice President Prof. Paul Feigin, Executive Vice President & Director General Prof. Arnon Bentur (who founded the Technion International School), and Vice President for External Relations and Resource Development Prof. Boaz Golany. All three worked closely with their colleagues from Shantou University on the detailed planning of the new institute. We are proud that Mr. Li Ka-shing, the wealthiest man in Asia and a visionary entrepreneur who has made a major contribution to Israel’s economy through his successful and diverse investments, has chosen the Technion as his partner for this historic undertaking.
With this agreement the Technion has taken another major step forward in our quest to become one of the top leading science and technology universities in the world. Together with our partnership with Cornell in the Jacobs Technion-Cornell Innovation Institute in New York City, and other strategic international collaborations, the Technion has become a world renowned powerhouse in science, technology and innovation — and this is manifesting itself east and west.
The Technion-Guangdong Institute of Technology will grant undergraduate and graduate Technion degrees, with studies beginning in the fall of 2014 in the field of civil and environmental engineering. TGIT faculty will be recruited partly from Shantou University, and others, from top universities around the world, will be identified by a search committee. All faculty, as well as post-doctoral fellows, will be trained at the Technion in Haifa. The degrees awarded by TGIT will be Technion diplomas, and all academic aspects will be governed by the Technion academic authorities to ensure that the curriculum and standards are equivalent to those at the Technion in Israel. Students will initially study at the Technion International School in Haifa until the campus is completed in Shantou.
The framework agreement for the establishment will soon be brought for the approval of the Technion’s and Chinese statutory authorities.
Yesterday, as I signed this historic memorandum of understanding in the presence of Mr. Li Ka-shing, the Israeli Minister of Science and the Governor of Guangdong Province, I was reminded once again of you, Technion friends around the world, whose decades of generosity, friendship and hard work have built an institution on the slopes of Mt. Carmel in Israel that has become a beacon of knowledge and innovation, and a powerful magnet for visionary leaders and philanthropists the world over.
NEW YORK – Dr. Irwin Mark Jacobs, Founding Chairman and CEO Emeritus of Qualcomm, and his wife Joan Klein Jacobs, today announced a $133-million gift to Cornell University and the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology to create the Joan and Irwin Jacobs Technion-Cornell Innovation Institute (JTCII). The JTCII is a key component of Cornell Tech, whose permanent campus will be located on Roosevelt Island. The funds will help support curriculum initiatives, faculty and graduate students, and industry interactions in a two-year graduate program. The gift was announced at City Hall with Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Cornell President David J. Skorton and Technion President Peretz Lavie.
The Jacobs are both Cornell alumni who have a long history of supporting both Cornell and the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology. They have established the Irwin M. and Joan K. Jacobs Scholars and Fellows Programs and the Irwin and Joan Jacobs Professorship, both in the College of Engineering, as well as the Joan Klein Jacobs Cornell Tradition Fellowship in the College of Human Ecology at Cornell. Dr. Jacobs is a former member of the Cornell University Council and Mrs. Jacobs served on the President’s Council of Cornell Women. In recognition of their distinguished service to Cornell, Dr. and Mrs. Jacobs were both elected Presidential Councillors in 2005. The Jacobs’ visionary support of the Technion includes the Irwin and Joan Jacobs Graduate School and the Irwin and Joan Jacobs Center for Communications and Information Technologies. A member of the Technion International Board of Governors, Dr. Jacobs is a Life Trustee of the American Technion Society (ATS) National Board of Regents, and a member of the ATS San Diego Chapter. Dr. Jacobs, along with Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt, serves as an advisor to Cornell Tech.
Dr. and Mrs. Jacobs are among the world’s most generous philanthropists. Their support has had a significant impact on numerous cultural, medical, educational, and civic organizations. The engineering school at the University of California, San Diego bears Dr. and Mrs. Jacobs’ names, as do the performing arts center of the campus La Jolla Playhouse and the new UCSD Medical Center.
“We are delighted to partner with Cornell and the Technion on this unique educational initiative,” said Joan and Irwin Jacobs. “We believe strongly in the mission of this international collaboration to drive innovation and to foster economic development. We are proud of our long association with both of these distinguished institutions and share their dedication to inspire and train a next generation of entrepreneurs, forming new companies and strengthening existing ones including, of course, Qualcomm.”
“Cornell Tech will bring a sharp increase in science and engineering teaching, attract students from around the world, and spin off new local companies and thousands of new jobs, and inject billions of dollars into our economy,” said Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg. “Irwin and Joan Jacobs have helped pave the way for innovations that improve our world, and the endowment they’re creating at Cornell Tech will do the same. We’re grateful for their investment in the future of New York City.”
“This transformative gift will support the distinctive international partnership between Cornell and the Technion that is already creating a new model of graduate tech education in New York City,” said Cornell President David J. Skorton. “We are overwhelmed by the continuing generosity of Joan and Irwin Jacobs, whose commitment to Cornell and to innovation in engineering and related disciplines is deeply appreciated.”
“Joan and Irwin’s magnificent gift will play a major and decisive role in fulfilling Mayor Bloomberg’s vision of creating a leading global center of innovation in the heart of New York, enabling the city to become the technology capital of the world,” said Technion President Peretz Lavie. “The Joan and Irwin Jacobs Technion-Cornell Innovation Institute will also serve as a bridge between Israel and the USA and Haifa and New York. We are also very grateful to the American Technion Society for their continued support and help in securing this gift.”
Craig Gotsman, the Founding Director of JTCII and the Technion’s Hewlett-Packard Professor of Computer Engineering, said, “I am proud to lead this endeavor that will help bring a global start up culture to New York and encourage the entrepreneurial efforts of our faculty and students. Together with our partners at Cornell Tech, we look forward to nurturing the next generation of applied technology leaders who will meet the needs of New York’s economy.”
“Today marks another important step forward for an initiative that we believe will transform our City for generations to come,” said New York City Economic Development Corporation President Seth W. Pinsky. “Applied Sciences NYC is a key piece of our larger innovation strategy that includes ongoing efforts to foster research and training at all levels of education. I would like to thank Dr. and Mrs. Jacobs for their generosity, as well as Presidents Skorton and Lavie, for their partnership and collaboration. ”
The JTCII plans to offer a two-year interdisciplinary program where students earn dual master degrees concurrently – one from Cornell and one from the Technion. This degree program will allow students to specialize in applied information-based sciences in one of three hubs focused around leading New York City industries – Connective Media, Healthier Living and The Built Environment-while honing their entrepreneurial skills. The first area of specialization will be in Connective Media and is slated to begin in the fall of 2014. Research will also be focused on the hub areas.
A novel program for Postdoctoral Innovation Fellows will launch in Fall 2013. The aim is to support individuals who seek to commercialize their research ideas in the stimulating environment at the JTCII while taking full advantage of the entrepreneurial network of Cornell Tech and the proximity to New York City-based markets.
Cornell Tech offers a distinctive model of graduate tech education that fuses scientific excellence with real-world applications and entrepreneurship, rooted in the latest academic research. Students, faculty and industry experts learn and work together to develop ideas and create new ventures that have global impact. The campus is attracting the best and brightest in technology, immersing them in an entrepreneurial culture with deep ties to the local business community, aiming to spawn new companies and tech ventures in New York City.
This gift marks another major milestone for the campus. Cornell Tech launched its first degree program in January – a Cornell University Master of Engineering in Computer Science and is rapidly rolling out new academic programs, recruiting star faculty, developing a distinctive new model of tech entrepreneurship, and designing its permanent campus on Roosevelt Island, which will break ground early next year.
The City’s Applied Sciences NYC initiative was designed to capitalize on the considerable growth presently occurring within the science, technology and research fields in New York, and builds on the Bloomberg Administration’s dedication to creating a more diversified and competitive economy for the future. In December 2011, the Cornell and Technion partnership was selected by the City as the first winner of the Applied Sciences competition. When completed, the Roosevelt Island campus will house approximately 2,000 full-time graduate students.
Technion M.Sc. student Saeed Kharouf has been a bright light in the visit of US President Barack Obama to Israel this month. There is no secret around the impressive science and technology arising from Technion ingenuity – resulting in three Nobel Prizes and life-saving innovations such as the Iron Dome that protects cities from missile attack; the ReWalk, that enables paraplegics to walk, climb stairs and even drive; or the revolutionary drug Azilect (TM) that has brought relief to millions of sufferers of Parkinson’s Disease. But Saeed tells a different story: one of educational cooperation and openness between two people the world has deemed at war, one of the opportunities of peace and the power of educated humanism.
Saeed Kharouf grew up in Beit Hanina, in East Jerusalem. He studied at the American University of Beirut, interned at Intel in the United States and is now working as a Digital Circuit Designer at Intel Israel’s Haifa plant while completing his master’s degree in computer science at the Technion.
Saeed met with President Obama on March 21st to share the vision of shared progress and enlightenment as a way to generate solutions to many of the region’s difficulties. “I said that hopefully one day, maybe in 20 years, I’ll be president or CEO of Intel and try to help my people to have better job opportunities and give them the same opportunities I had,” Kharouf told the Israeli national paper Ha’aretz. “Obama laughed and said, ‘Why not?'” Indeed, it is not unrealistic: Intel’s current CEO Mouli Eden is also a Technion graduate.
Saeed met the president of the United States at the Israel Museum, where the President was presented just some of the success stories to come out of bi-national high-tech cooperation. One of these is a project called Ma’antek; an initiative of President Shimon Peres’s office that aims to recruit qualified Israeli-Arabs into Israel’s flourishing high-tech industry. Ma’antek provides a bridge for Arab students into the workforce. Aside from Intel, it has connections with another 30-odd multinational companies operating in Israel. “They help students with resumes, holding workshops, preparing for interviews, everything you need to be successful,” said Saeed.
“The work Maantek is doing really is important for people like me. I honestly faced some difficulties myself, with the language and the culture, when I was looking for a job here,” he added. Although he might easily have found work in the United States or Lebanon, he wanted to return home to be close with this family – and now spends his time between Haifa and Jerusalem. “I think we can be examples to young people, so they can find the motivation to work hard. I hope my success is paving the way for them. This is extremely important for the development of the country and for Arab people. Still there’s a lot to do, but it will take time. We need to keep motivating youngsters to study, and to be in a position to effect change that might one day change the world.”
The meeting took place during an intense visit of the President of the Unites States to Israel in which Prime Minister of Israel Netanyahu presented the President with a unique gift created by Technion scientists from the Russell Berrie Institute for Nanotechnology (RBNI): a nano-sized grain of dust on which is inscribed the original Declarations of Independence of the State of Israel and the United States of America. The gift is positioned on a 200 year old Jerusalem Stone, dating back to the era of the 2nd temple.
Technion Professor Alon Wolf gives President Obama and PM Netanyahu a first-hand look at Technion innovation: a robotic snake that can assist with search and rescue missions. Prof. Wolf is also developing a medical robot that can perform sophisticated surgical procedures. Amazing!
U.S. President Barack Obama met with Theresa Hannigan from New York, who is sporting a ReWalk bionic suit, at the Israeli technologies exhibition in Jerusalem, Israel. ReWalk exoskeleton was among the cutting-edge Israeli innovations shown to President Barack Obama in the course of his visit to a session hosted by Technion-Israel Institute of Technology.
ReWalk creator Dr. Amit Goffer, an alumni of the Technion, is actually a quadriplegic who was prompted to develop the exoskeleton system as a result of his own personal account and experience. “It is an honor to have been chosen among many Israeli innovators to present the ReWalk technology to President Obama,” stated Dr. Goffer. “This device is already improving the quality of life for many people and we look forward to seeing its continued expansion around the world including in the US where we are awaiting FDA clearance for daily personal use.”
A “robot waiter” developed by junior high school students from Haifa, under the guidance of researchers from the Technion’s Department of Education in Technology and Science, won “Best Humanoid Robot” title in an international competition which took place in Connecticut, USA, in 2012.
The robot waiter was designed and programmed as a model of an autonomous robot that will serve a disabled person in his or her home – for example, will go to the refrigerator, take food and carry it to that person. The robot, with a height of about 35 cm (about 13.8 inches) uses sensors to overcome obstacles in its way, is a capable of performing a variety of movements.
A line of products trusted by neurosurgeons and neuroscience researchers on six continents was developed by a Christian-Arab couple in Nazareth, Israel.
January 7, 2013 – Israel21C – By Abigail Klein Leichman
Arab Christians Reem and Imad Younis met at the Technion and started their own neurosurgery products business in Nazareth.
Two Arab Nazarenes meet at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa, fall in love, get married and move back home to start a high-tech business financed only by the sale of their car.
Doesn’t sound like a recipe for success? Well, it worked out fine for Imad and Reem Younis, whose company Alpha Omega is a world leader in producing pioneering products for neurosurgery and neuroscience research.
Last June, Alpha Omega was named the 2012 American Israeli Company of the Year by the American Israeli Chamber of Commerce in Atlanta, Georgia. One of its international sales and support offices in based in Alpharetta, near Atlanta.
Reem Younis, a civil engineer (her husband’s degree is in electrical engineering), explains: “Alpha Omega’s knowhow is ‘driving’ safely inside the brain with an electrode, recording neural activity, stimulating neural tissue, processing and analyzing the data.
“In simple terms, you can look at it as a GPS inside the brain that guides the neurosurgeon to the required location, where a permanent electrode is implanted. This treatment is supposed to eliminate disease symptoms, and the patient can go back to his or her normal life.”
The company’s recording and stimulation tools, which have both FDA (US) and CE (Europe) approvals, are helpful in two realms. Neuroscientists use them in the lab to understand more about the human brain, and neurosurgeons use them for treating patients with a variety of neural disorders such as Parkinson’s disease and dystonia, a nervous system disorder that causes involuntary muscles contractions and spasms. “In Europe this method is used also for treating people with [clinical] depression,” says Younis.
Meeting future needs Alpha Omega was established in 1993 in Nazareth, a Christian Arab city that recently hosted its first Startup Weekend event. The company’s sophisticated machinery is manufactured locally and sold through offices in the United States, Israel and Germany, as well as by sales representatives in China, Japan and South America.
The mainly Christian and Muslim Arab staff of 35 in Alpha Omega’s Nazareth headquarters are graduates of the Technion or Tel Aviv University. During Global Entrepreneurship Week in November, Reem and Imad Younis went from one northern Arab municipality to another, explaining their company’s technology and entrepreneurship model to high school students with the goal of encouraging other innovators like themselves.
“We are 20 percent of the [Israeli] population and also need to be 20% of the Israeli high-tech scene, but we are not,” says Younis. “It’s closer to 1%. Alpha Omega is about bringing high-tech to Nazareth and giving employment to very highly qualified engineers.”
She says the company’s equipment is well known around the world for accuracy and stability. “We are in more than 100 hospitals and more than 500 labs on six continents. Our main market is, of course, the USA.”
Younis says one reason for the company’s success is its close relationship with the research community, particularly at the Hadassah University Medical Center in Jerusalem and other top researchers in Israel and beyond.
“Because Alpha Omega is involved in both the medical and research fields, we hear about new needs and trends,” says Younis. “We know where the market is leading in five or 10 years, so that our excellent teams will develop the appropriate systems for serving humanity and fulfilling the company’s mission.”
People who suffer from breathing disorders such as sleep apnea are usually at higher risk for cardiovascular disease. But an intriguing new study from Technion-Israel Institute of Technology scientists suggests that some heart attack patients with these conditions may actually benefit from mild to moderate sleep-disordered breathing.
Apnea and other types of sleep-disordered breathing can boost the numbers and functions of rare cells that help to repair and build new blood vessels, according to the Technion’s Dr. Lena Lavie and her colleagues. They say the findings could help predict which patients are at a greater health risk after a heart attack, and may even suggest ways to rebuild damaged heart tissue.
Sleep-disordered breathing is characterized by cycles of apnea-induced hypoxia, where the sleeper experiences a temporary drop in oxygen levels. It occurs in about 5 to 10% of the general adult population, but is extremely common in patients with cardiovascular diseases- somewhere between 40-60%. Many studies have shown that sleep apnea is a risk factor for everything from high blood pressure to chronic heart failure, Lavie noted. Earlier studies by the Technion scientists suggest apnea increases oxygen-related stress and inflammation in the heart and blood vessels.
The scientists’ study in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine could help resolve a puzzling medical issue. If sleep disordered breathing is associated with cardiovascular disease, why is it that people who suffer from breathing disorders in sleep seem to do as well as healthy sleepers after a heart attack?
Lavie, along with researchers Dr. Slava Berger, Prof. Doron Aronson and Prof. Peretz Lavie, looked for clues to this puzzle in 40 male patients-a mix of healthy sleepers and those with sleep disordered breathing-who had had a heart attack just a few days earlier.
Blood samples drawn from these patients revealed that the sleep disordered breathing patients had markedly higher levels of endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs), which give rise to new blood vessels and repair the injured heart, than the healthy sleepers. They also had higher levels of other growth-promoting proteins and immune cells that stimulate blood vessel production. The Technion researchers were able to trigger a similar increase in vessel-building activity in vascular cells taken from a second set of twelve healthy men and women, by withholding oxygen from the cells for short periods. “Indeed, our results point at the possibility that inducing mild-moderate intermittent hypoxia may have beneficial effects,” Lena Lavie said.
In an accompanying editorial in the journal, Dr. Leila Kheirandish-Gozal of the University of Chicago and Prof. Ramon Farré of the Universidad de Barcelona said the Technion study moves toward reconciling the ideas that apnea can stress the heart but also “pre-condition” it for repair.
Patients with sleep-disordered breathing, they noted “are essentially better prepared to harness the recruitment of EPCs when [a heart attack] comes knock at the door.”
“Heart attack is a potent stimulus for EPC mobilization,” said Aronson, who is also affiliated with RAMBAM Medical Center. He also explained that the cells move from bone marrow to the heart to repair damaged tissue after a heart attack. “The field of cell-based cardiac repair has struggled to find the best approach to enhance recruitment of EPCs to the heart following myocardial infarction,” said Aronson. The Technion findings, he said, suggest that intermittent periods of oxygen deprivation in heart attack patients “provides a simple and powerful means to boost EPC mobilization.”
“It should be further investigated if inducing intermittent hypoxia immediately after a heart attack, in patients without sleep disordered breathing, will also have such an effect,” Lena Lavie said.
The researchers would like to test this possibility in animal studies, as well as expand their studies of the underlying mechanisms that activate EPCs and other vessel-building factors.