Elysa Greisman, Technion Canada’s New National Executive Director

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Technion Canada is proud to welcome our new National Executive Director, Elysa Greisman.
Elysa is a talented and seasoned executive with over 20 years of senior management experience. She brings a wealth of expertise in the areas of fundraising, marketing, strategic planning, budgeting, leadership of operations and staff. She is a respected leader in the community who is passionate about education and has a strong commitment to Israel and Jewish values. She has worked at the Jewish Foundation/UJA Federation and at several Jewish Day Schools in Toronto.
We look forward to many successful years for Technion Canada under Elysa’s leadership.

Does the Organization of DNA During Sperm Development have an Effect on Future Offspring?

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Researchers at Technion’s Rappaport Faculty of Medicine present new findings regarding the organization of DNA during sperm formation and its implications on future organisms. The research which was published in the journal Nature Structural & Molecular Biology was done by Prof. Noam Kaplan and MSc student Haia Khoury from the Technion, together with their colleagues at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. Leading the research at Cincinnati were Prof. Satoshi Namekawa and research student Kris Alvattam.

  The DNA in the living cell is packed, together with the proteins attached to it, in a molecular complex called chromatin. Although it may seem that the chromatin serves only as a packaging of genetic data within the DNA, the way in which the DNA is packed considerably influences cellular systems. For example, DNA that is tightly packed may become inaccessible to biological machinery which reads the DNA, possibly leading to inactivation of genes encoded in that DNA sequence.  

This current research examined the organization of the DNA during spermatogenesis – sperm development. Although spermatogenesis has been long studied, the way in which DNA is packed during this process has not been mapped in detail due to technological challenges. Now, researchers have met this challenge by using a novel technology, called Hi-C, which combines experimental molecular biology with computational analysis to measure the spatial organization of DNA.    

Each day, millions of sperm cells are created in the human male body. One of the critical stages in the formation of sperm cells is meiosis (cell division). Early in meiosis, DNA is drastically reorganized as the chromosomes condense in preparation of the upcoming cell division. Furthermore, these condense chromosomes swap segments of DNA and in this way increase genetic variation.

The Israeli-American research team successfully isolated mouse sperm cells at the start of meiosis when the chromosomes are condensed and then used Hi-C to measure the spatial organization of the DNA. The researchers discovered that the spatial structure of the chromatin gradually strengthens during spermatogenesis, until it reaches its ultimate strength in the mature sperm. They suggest that this organization enables the sperm cells to activate a wide variety of genes during meiosis, enabling the cells to later gain the unique ability of producing all cell types after fertilization. According to Dr. Kaplan, “In the future, we intend to use this approach in order to understand how the genome’s spatial structure may influence fertility.”      

This research was funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Azrieli Foundation and the Henry and Marilyn Taub Scholarship.

Prof. Kaplan joined the Technion Rappaport Faculty of Medicine in 2016 and established an interdisciplinary laboratory for studying the spatial structure and function of genomes in health and disease.

Haia Khoury completed her BSc at the Technion’s Faculty of Biology and is currently pursuing an MSc in Biomedical Sciences at the Technion Rappaport Faculty of Medicine.

Click here  to read the paper in Nature Structural & Molecular Biology


Think Hardware

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Researchers at Technion have developed a platform able to accelerate the learning process of AI systems a 1000 fold

Prof.  Shahar Kvatinsky and doctoral student Tzofnat Greenberg-Toledo, together with students Roee Mazor and Ameer Haj-Ali of Technion’s Andrew and Erna Viterbi Faculty of Electrical Engineering recently published their research in the IEEE Transactions on Circuits and Systems journal, published by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).

Prof.  Shahar Kvatinsky and his research team

In recent years, there has been major progress in the world of artificial intelligence, mainly due to models of deep neural networks (DNNs); sets of algorithms inspired by the human brain and designed to recognize patterns. Inspired by human learning methods, these DNNs have had unprecedented success in dealing with complex tasks such as autonomous driving, natural language processing, image recognition and the development of innovative medical treatments which is achieved through the machine’s self-learning from a vast pool of examples often represented by images. This technology is developing rapidly in academic research groups and leading companies such as Facebook and Google are utilizing it for their specific needs. 

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Uri Sivan – Technion’s New President

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The Technion Council headed by Mr. Gideon Frank, has elected Prof. Uri Sivan, of the Faculty of Physics as the next president of Technion. The Council’s decision was based on the recommendation of the Search Committee for the Technion President and received sweeping support from the Academic Assembly. The appointment is subject to the final approval of the International Board of Governors which is set to convene in June.

Prof. Sivan will commence his term as President of Technion on October 1, 2019, and will replace the outgoing President Prof. Peretz Lavie, who will complete his term after a decade in office.

Prof. Sivan, 64, a resident of Haifa, is married and the father of three. He served as a pilot in the Israeli Air Force. He has a BSc in Physics and Mathematics, an MSc and Ph.D. in Physics, all with honors from Tel Aviv University.

In 1991, after three years at IBM’s T. J. Watson Research Center in New York, Prof. Sivan joined the Faculty of Physics at Technion. His research has covered a wide range of fields including quantum mesoscopic physics and the harnessing of molecular and cellular biology for the self-assembly of miniature electronic devices. In recent years, his research has focused on the way water orders next to molecules and the effect of this ordering on inter-molecular interactions in biologically relevant solutions. Within this framework, Prof. Sivan’s group designs and builds unique, ultra-high-resolution atomic force microscopes.

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Canada’s University of Waterloo and Technion Leaders Explore Collaborative Research

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Professor Charmaine Dean, Vice-President, Research and International and nine Waterloo researchers attended a workshop to explore collaborative research in water, nano science, quantum information processing, artificial intelligence, and cybersecurity. The Waterloo-Technion partnership was established in 2014 following a donation from the Gerald Schwartz and Heather Reisman Foundation and has supported a number of workshops, 11 research projects and has generated an additional $3.4 million in new grants, and a spin-off company.

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CT for Clouds: A Fleet of Micro-Satellites Will See into the Smallest Clouds

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An Israeli-German mission to launch a formation of ten tiny satellites that use medically-inspired CT (computed tomography) algorithms to answer climate questions wins a (US) $15.9 million European Research Council award.

Ten satellites, each around the size of a shoebox, are slated to enter orbit in a few years and begin filling in some gaping holes in our understanding of clouds and their role in climate. Inspired by medical CT (computed tomography), which observes and maps the interior of a patient, the designers are creating a system that will reveal detailed images of clouds’ external and internal 3D structures and properties. By probing small cloud fields that are generally missed by today’s remote sensing technologies, the mission may resolve some major uncertainties that limit current atmospheric modeling and climate prediction.

(L-R) Prof. Ilan Koren, Prof. Yoav Schechner, and Prof. Klaus Schilling

This space mission, called CloudCT, was recently awarded €14 million by the European Research Council (ERC) Synergy program — the maximum sum that can be allotted from this program. Three investigators lead this unique interdisciplinary project: two Israelis and a German. Prof. Yoav Schechner of the Viterbi Faculty of Electrical Engineering at the Technion (Haifa) is an expert in computer vision and computed tomography. Prof. Ilan Koren is an expert in cloud and rain physics in the Earth and Planetary Sciences Department of the Weizmann Institute of Science (Rehovot). Prof. Klaus Schilling of the Center for Telematics (Würzburg) is a leader in the field of small satellite formation technology.

Clouds have a key role in Earth’s energy balance and its water cycle; even small errors in assessing clouds’ properties can lead to major inaccuracies in climate predictions. “Satellites study large cloud structures, but lack the resolution to observe small clouds,” says Koren. “Although they are small, such clouds temper the climate, on the one hand, and on the other, they may be very sensitive to climate change. That is why there is a critical need to measure these small clouds properly — to understand their nature and their interplay with changing environmental conditions. CloudCT can pave the way to this understanding.”

The idea for probing these clouds from space was motivated by the technology of 3D medical imaging. “We are using human health as guidance for the planet’s health,” Schechner says. In analogy to the better-known medical CT, images in CloudCT will be taken simultaneously from many directions around and above the clouds. This feat will be made possible by the networked self-organizing formation of multiple, affordable, very small and very agile satellites. However, “Contrary to isolated clinic laboratory settings, Earth is irradiated by illumination from the Sun, which cannot be moved around or turned on and off. Our image-analysis algorithms must account for this reality and rely on light scattering, which challenges our task.”

The precision control required of the multi-satellite system (each satellite weighing around three kilograms) so as to conduct this complex imaging raises challenges in miniaturization, as well as in coordination and autonomous reaction capabilities. Schilling professes excitement about the prospects of the CloudCT project: “The distributed networked satellite systems we are developing for CloudCT are an example of the ways that innovative software compensates for the deficits brought about by miniaturization. This enables a self-organizing system to be implemented efficiently by such ultra-small satellites and for novel approaches to observation to help achieve scientific advances.”

The scientists are now building their teams and starting to work out details of the project. They will spend time designing and testing many aspects of CloudCT prior to launch. “This testing is assisted by a precursor mission of three satellites, called TOM – Telematics Earth Observation Mission, as well as our high-performance dynamics simulator in Würzburg,” says Schilling. “This project will give us the opportunity to see and measure clouds as never before,” adds Koren.  “We are very pleased that the ERC selected the CloudCT project,” says Schechner. “We can already say that CloudCT is pioneering new concepts of Earth observation and the development of sophisticated computational imaging algorithms.”

Watch this video explaining this research

Technion Ties With MIT in 8th Place for Producing Nobel Prizewinners

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December 10th marks the anniversary of Alfred Nobel’s death and also gives us the new round of the Nobel Prize winners. https://www.nobelprize.org/nobel-prize-award-ceremonies/

With 4 Technion alumni and faculty taking home Nobel Prizes in the past 15 years, Technion places 8th, in a tie with MIT, for producing the most winners this century! http://int.technion.ac.il/technion-ties-with-mit-in-eighth-place-for-producing-nobel-prizewinners-in-this-century/

Avram Hershko & Aaron Ciechanover, 2004, Chemistry

Technion’s winners have all won for major advancements in Chemistry, starting in 2004 with Technion professor Avram Hershko and Technion graduate/professor Aaron Ciechanover. The pair, along with their American partner, discovered “ubiquitin-mediated protein degradation”.

What is ubiquitin-mediated protein degradation? It’s a bit of a mouthful, but this video will break it down for you. 

They proudly hold a special place in Technion’s history as the first Technion affiliates to win the Nobel Prize.

Dan Shechtman, 2011, Chemistry

7 years later, in 2011, Dan Shechtman brought Technion into the Nobel Prize light again, for the discovery of quasicrystals. A great success story, given his research was rejected and disapproved by his peers for years.  Today Dan Shechtman is currently a Philip Tobias professor of Material Science at Technion! https://www.reuters.com/article/us-nobel-chemistry/corrected-ridiculed-crystal-work-wins-nobel-for-israeli-idUSTRE7941EP20111006

Wondering what quasicrystals are? Look no further! https://www.pbs.org/newshour/science/quasicrystals-win-chemistry-nobel

Arieh Warshel, 2013, Chemistry

The third Nobel Prize for Technion came in 2013 when Technion graduate, Arieh Warshel and his two colleagues were recognized for the development of multiscale models for complex chemical systems. This trio’s discovery made this all possible. https://scientificgems.wordpress.com/2013/10/10/the-chemistry-nobel-gives-hope-to-all-simulation-scientists/

The excitement of Nobel Prize awards is a legitimate one. The great effort and lengths scientists have gone through to prove their hypotheses and stand by their results has earned them an award well deserved!  In acknowledgement of their grandeur in the field of chemistry, Technion invites students from other countries to learn from these masters with their study abroad program: http://int.technion.ac.il/studying-abroad-in-israel-with-nobel-prize-winners/

While we await to hear what new discoveries will be announced as winners this year, we leave you with an article on peace and entrepreneurship. A concept Dan Shechtman talks about in an article by Forbes contributor, Ricardo Geromel: https://www.forbes.com/sites/ricardogeromel/2012/04/27/israeli-nobel-prize-winner-entrepreneurship-is-the-only-way-to-maintain-peace/#30c935235328

Israeli Device Lets Wheelchair-Bound Groom Stand Under the Chuppah

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Wheel chair bound Adir wanted to be able to stand under the chuppah with his bride to be Liat. UpnRide made that dream come true.

UPnRIDE was invented by Amit Goffer, whose revolutionary ReWalk robotic exoskeleton allows paraplegics to stand, walk, navigate steps and even run marathons.

Goffer, who is a Technion graduate, could not use ReWalk himself because he is a quadriplegic, paralyzed from the neck down.

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Technion Launches t-hub, a New Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation

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Technion won a NIS 10 million (US $2.7 million) grant from Israel’s Council for Higher Education (CHE) in the “New Campus Vision” competition to set up entrepreneurship hub.

Technion – Israel Institute of Technology won a NIS 10 million grant for the advancement of entrepreneurship and innovation as part of a “New Campus Vision” competition of the Council for Higher Education. Israeli Education Minister Naftali Bennett and Chair of the CHE’s Planning and Budgeting Committee Prof. Yaffa Zilbershats announced the winners.

The grant will be used to establish t-hub – The Technion Entrepreneurship and Innovation Center, based on the strategic plan for entrepreneurship and innovation formulated by the university during the past two years. Technion is the only academic institution to win the competition individually.

“The grant from the Council for Higher Education comes at a perfect time,” said President of the Technion Prof. Peretz Lavie. “Two years ago we initiated a comprehensive initiative aimed at developing and promoting entrepreneurship and innovation activities on the Haifa campus connecting them to the new branches of Technion in New York and China.  The grant will enable the Technion to make a significant change in the scope of its entrepreneurial activities and to realize the establishment of the Technion Entrepreneurship and Innovation Center, t-hub, which will take the entrepreneurial culture on campus to new heights.”

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Cronos Group Partners with Technion in a Research Agreement

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Cronos Group Inc. recently announced that it has entered into a sponsored research agreement with the Technion Research and Development Foundation of the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology. Research will be led by Technion faculty members Dr. David “Dedi” Meiri, Head, Laboratory of Cancer Biology and Cannabinoid Research and Dr. Yaron Fuchs, Laboratory of Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine two of the world’s leading researchers in cannabis and skin stem cell research, respectively.

The preclinical studies will be conducted by Technion over a three-year period to explore the use of cannabinoids and their role in regulating skin health and skin disorders. The three skin conditions they will focus on are acne, psoriasis and skin repair. Development and implementation of the research will be conducted at Technion’s Laboratory of Cancer Biology and Cannabis Research and the Lorry I. Lokey Interdisciplinary Center of Life Sciences and Engineering in Haifa, Israel.

“We believe that the potential applications of cannabinoids to regulate skin health and treat skin disorders are vast, and we are excited to begin exploring these applications through our partnership with Technion,” said Mike Gorenstein, Chief Executive Officer of Cronos Group. Cronos Group Inc. (NASDAQ: CRON) is a globally diversified and vertically integrated cannabis company with a presence across five continents.

“Using rigorous data to develop efficacious topical and transdermal formulations will be key to creating differentiated products that provide quality treatments to our consumers and strengthen our brand portfolio.”