January 7, 2013 GPS for Brain Surgeons

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Arab Christians Reem and Imad Younis met at the Technion and started their own neurosurgery products business in Nazareth.
Arab Christians Reem and Imad Younis met at the Technion and started their own neurosurgery products business in Nazareth.

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.”

January 3, 2013 Sleep Apnea May Offer Unusual Protection for Heart Attack Patients

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Dr. Lena Lavie
Dr. Lena Lavie

January 3, 2013

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 Farr√© 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.

January 1, 2013 Where do companies like Rafael Advanced Defense Systems go to recruit the next generation of top Israeli engineers? The Techninon!

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January 1, 2013 – Globes – By Yuval Azulai

Israel’s defense industry may be in the midst of major cutbacks and layoffs but Rafael  Advanced Defense Systems Ltd. is bucking the trend. With the impressive performance  of its Iron Dome short range missile defense system to its credit and the development of  the new Wind Jacket tank protection system, Rafael wants to recruit the next generation  of the country’s top engineers to lead a breakthrough in defense developments at the  government-owned company.

Rafael is striving to hire 150 students at the Technion, Israel Institute of Technology in  Haifa. Rafael recruitment manager Nirit Etzion said, “In fact we don’t have to try very  hard. The name Rafael speaks for itself and the students want to work and integrate  into the service of the company because they understand they have an opportunity for  a thrilling career.” On the basis of the previous recruitment drive at the Technion six  months ago, Etzion expects about 1,000 applications.

The Technion students learning the various engineering disciplines will be exposed to  the development programs that Rafael leads including the David’s Sling (Magic Wand)  missile defense system, to intercept medium range threats and fill in the gap between  Iron Dome (short range) and the Arrow (long range).

Etzion said, “All the students that will be hired to work at Rafael will be integrated into  future development ventures. The main activities are in the north of the country so the  jobs we are offering at the Technion are perceived by many students as being very  convenient. The jobs are close to the studies and Rafael provides transport to the plants  and the work is two days a week during vacations and when they complete their studies  at the Technion they have a desirable job waiting for them at Rafael.”

January 1, 2013 Technion to launch one-year English-language MBA program

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As part of their studies, students will be exposed to the start-up scene in Israel through regular meetings with professionals from various hi-tech companies.
As part of their studies, students will be exposed to the start-up scene in Israel through regular meetings with professionals from various hi-tech companies.

JPost – January 1, 2013 – By Danielle Ziri

As part of their studies, students will be exposed to the start-up scene in Israel through  regular meetings with professionals from various hi-tech companies. The Technion-Israel Institute of Technology is set to launch a new MBA program, which will focus on start-ups and entrepreneurship and be taught entirely in English, for the next academic year starting in  October 2013.

The full-time one-year program, which will run at the Technion’s new Sarona campus  near Tel Aviv’s Azrieli Center, aims to provide “essential training in management  functions, underscoring the skills needed for entrepreneurs who are interested in  launching their start-up company or promoting entrepreneurship and innovation in their  organizations,” as the mission statement states on the programs’ website.

As part of their studies, students will be exposed to the start-up scene in Israel through  regular meetings with professionals from various hi-tech companies. The program will incorporate hands-on projects, including an internship that students will undertake toward the end of their studies.  “Theory is good, but it’s also very different from what happens in the field itself,” the  managing director of the Technion’s MBA programs, Dr. Avital Regev Siman-Tov, told  The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday. Siman-Tov explained that while she deals with all MBA programs, this new one is her “baby.”

“It’s very different from the other comparable programs you can find in Israel, and it’s  different from what the rest of the world offers too,” she said. “We come from the country people call the ‘Start-Up Nation,’ we think we can take  international and Israeli students and teach them to build a start-up from the beginning,”  she continued.

“The Technion is renowned for its strong link to the industry and for all the big hi-tech  companies that its graduates founded.” Siman-Tov noted that the track is “quite exclusive” and that with only 40 spots available in the class, students will be carefully picked and only “very high quality candidates” will be chosen.

Among the admission criteria are letters of recommendation; a personal interview; an  undergraduate GPA of at least 3.0 from an accredited university; a GMAT score of at  least 550; as well as a minimum of two years of professional  postgraduate experience.

The curriculum, which Siman-Tov and her team have been constructing for the past six  months, is divided between core theoretical courses, industry seminars and weekly  corporate visits to start-up firms and technological incubators, where students will  attend presentations by entrepreneurs and senior managers. Each visit will also feature  a guided tour of nearby sites in Israel.

Siman-Tov said the Technion targets international students, both Jewish and non-  Jewish, from all over the world. “A lot of them go study these things in the US, for example, but we can give them something else that the US can’t. We may not be Wharton or Kellogg business schools, but we are the ‘Start-Up Nation,’ and we are even cheaper that these top schools.”

Tuition for the program is set at $35,000. In addition, international students receive full  assistance from the school’s social coordinators in everything else surrounding their  move to the country, such as help in opening a bank account or obtaining medical  insurance Siman-Tov also sees the new program as a way to advocate for Israel, in that  students “can be great ambassadors of Israel if they go back home and say they  learned how to create a start-up from the best in Israel.”

“If these students can take the great education that we offer them and do something  with it back in their homelands, we are doing a service to this country,” she added.