October 21, 2010 Medical Students Take Part in Exchange Program

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news_id105Medical Students Take Part in Exchange Program

By Laura Strickler, Staff Reporter
Thursday, 21 October 2010

TORONTO  – The first two medical students to participate in an exchange between University of Toronto and the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology recently shared their experiences at a dinner celebrating the inauguration of the program.

Rana Halloumee of Israel and Daniel Pincus, a Toronto student, were the first participants in the CREMS (Comprehensive Research Experience for Medical Students) Program between Toronto and Israel. Halloumee spent her two months on exchange researching heart rate-dependent electrical remodelling. This was her first time in North America, and one of the first things she noticed about Toronto was its multiculturalism.

“I was very impressed to see how people [in Toronto] respect each other and treat each other well no matter what their nationality or homeland is,” the third-year medical student (equivalent to first year in Canada) said.

Pincus spent his three months in Israel researching hip fractures and bone imaging at Carmel Medical Center in Haifa. When asked about his experience on exchange, he said he would definitely recommend that others should participate.

“It’s good to get some really productive research done, and on the other hand, have an experience that is usually not offered to medical students in first and second year.

“I am humbled and privileged that I was able to participate,” he added.

The CREMS Program, established in 2005, allows first- and second-year medical students from the University of Toronto to participate in research-based exchanges at medical schools all over the world.

The idea to start a Toronto-Israel exchange came from Dr. George Fantus, associate dean of research in the faculty of medicine at U of T. He was familiar with schools in Israel – his daughter went to medical school there, a nephew attended the Technion and his son spent some time at the Weizmann Institute of Science.

One of the largest hurdles, Fantus said, was getting money to fund the students. After approximately a year of negotiating, the Canadian Technion Society approached with a proposal to support the exchange program. Gary Goldberg, national president of the society, has been very supportive, he said. In all, it took about 2-1/2 years to get this exchange off the ground.

At the dinner, Judith Wolfson, vice-president of university relations, discussed the importance of students appreciating and being aware of the world beyond where they live.

“[There is a] huge interest in all students at all levels to ‘internationalize’ their experience and ensure a broader understanding of their field in the world,” Wolfson said.

Catharine Whiteside, dean of the U of T faculty of medicine, was excited by both the potential of the Israel branch of CREMS and that of the program in general.

“We’re very keen to partner with the best in the world, and this opportunity with Technion exemplifies that for us,” she said.

“It’s a great opportunity for our students to experience another institution in another country and learn about health and about medical sciences from a different perspective, but still have an experience that’s beyond just learning about science.

“These types of experiences have a lifetime impact on the students. I think we’ll probably see this program grow.”

For Fantus, the importance of the exchange program is threefold: it furthers medical research, creates global citizens and promotes peace in the world.

“It’s important for people everywhere to have different experiences and be exposed to different cultures,” he said.

“Only with common goals and understanding can we create a better life for everybody.”

October 21, 2010 Israeli Nanotech Experts Exploring Canadian Collaborations

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news_id106Israeli Nanotech Experts Exploring Canadian Collaborations

By Andy Levy-Ajzenkopf, Staff Reporter
Thursday, 21 October 2010

TORONTO – Three Israeli nanotechnology experts recently made visits to Ottawa and Toronto on a mission to make contact with Canadian counterparts and lay the groundwork for possible future collaborations between both countries.

Scientists Baruch Fischer, and Dov Sherman – a professor and associate professor respectively at the Israel Institute of Technology (Technion) – and Eylon Yavin, a researcher with the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s faculty of medicine, met with peers at a two-day Carleton University nanotechnology workshop on Oct. 4 and 5.

They then made their way to Toronto to make the acquaintance of other researchers at the Ontario Centre of Excellence before heading back to Israel.

Israeli ambassador to Canada, Miriam Ziv, lauded the meetings.

“Israeli research and innovation is world renowned, and the potential benefits of an exchange of knowledge between Canada and Israel will be extremely valuable,” she said in a statement prior to the workshop.

Carleton University vice-president Kim Matheson said her researchers looked forward to “sharing our work with top scientists from Israel and [to] co-operative ventures and initiatives that could result from these discussions.”

Though no official agreements or projects resulted from the meetings, the Israeli researchers said they were excited at the opportunity to meet new colleagues and work with Canadians in the future and hoped both countries would find ways to free up grant money for collaborations in the future.

“It’s difficult for us [to secure financing]. We need the help of industry to do this,” Fischer said. “Universities in Canada are problem-solvers, and we want to collaborate on basic science and research. We are here to open windows and do more collaborating” with Canada.

Sherman expressed enthusiasm for his field and said that nanotechnology, while impressive for the layman, is still only in its infancy.

“This is an enthusiastic field. Things you could only imagine [before] are now possible,” he said. But he cautioned that nanotechnology also has its limits in terms of applications in semiconductor technology.

“We can only shrink so much. We’re getting to the limits of the semi-conductor,” he said, adding that in his opinion, in about 15 or 20 years scientists will have to “find other ways” to go smaller in scale.

For his part, Yavin, the lone nanobiologist of the three, said his research is currently focusing on improving ways of drug delivery in the body as well as “finding ways to get molecules to where you want them in the body.”

All three experts expressed their eagerness to reciprocate Israeli hospitality to sector representatives at the NanoIsrael 2010 Conference in Tel Aviv on Nov. 8 and 9.