Architect Moshe Safdie Honoured

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Architect Moshe Safdie, citizen of Canada, Israel and the USA, is one of the world’s most celebrated architects and has created well over 200 awe-inspiring architectural projects that span the globe.

Mr. Safdie was presented with an Honorary Doctorate at Technion-Israel Institute of Technology on June 17, 2019 in the presence of Canadian Ambassador H.E. Deborah Lyons.

“I was born in Hadar Hacarmel in a Bauhaus modernist building, across the street was the Technion”, he said. “With my parents coming from Aleppo and my architecture education being in the west in Canada, I think I merged within me Western European and Eastern traditions. While I’ve received many Honorary Doctorates and other awards, I’m very moved by being honored by the Technion. For me the Technion is home territory, it is literally where I was born and where I grew up. When I decided to be an architect far away in cold Montreal the Technion was always for me the memory of which school of architecture I should have been at.”

Leesa Steinberg Dedication Ceremony

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Canadian philanthropist Leesa Steinberg was recently honoured at a dedication ceremony at the Technion’s Faculty of Aerospace Engineering. The dedication was held in recognition of Ms. Steinberg’s generous gift to modernize the control room of the Wind Tunnel Complex.

The Wind Tunnel Complex is used for aerodynamic experimental research and the Technion is one of few universities in the world with such facilities. Research and knowledge acquired at the Wind Tunnel Complex enable aerospace engineers to assist the State of Israel in maintaining superior capabilities in air defense.

We are so grateful to Leesa for her generous gift and ongoing support of the Technion and the State of Israel!

Protecting Children in Cars

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Student developers Adam Barhak-right-and Assaf Yitzhak

 Students from Technion’s Viterbi Faculty of Electrical Engineering have developed an inexpensive and simple system to prevent leaving children alone in vehicles

 The advanced system based on machine learning technology was created by Technion undergraduate students Adam Barhak and Assaf Yitzhak under the guidance of doctoral student Ayal Taitler and master’s degree student Dotan Shambi. The system has a number of advantages that are hard to find in existing systems – ease of use, simple installation, highly reliable and the low cost.

Leaving babies and toddlers in cars can have tragic consequences, however the various solutions offered to date, such as continuous monitoring of the weight placed on the car seat are unsatisfactory.

Barhak recalls, “We asked ourselves how was it possible that no effective technological solution has been devised for this problem. We decided that we needed to change direction and embark on a new concept – an advanced and cheap thermal sensor that transfers the data to a system that is able to learn, analyze and rapidly make correct decisions.”

The system developed by the two is based on a relatively simple and inexpensive thermal sensor installed opposite the baby seat in the back of the vehicle. The thermal sensor produces an image of the child and transfers the data to a tiny, inexpensive computer (Raspberry Pi), which processes the information and issues an alert. Additional variables are also assessed to prevent false alarms.

The system activates a sequence of alarms in a closed loop that expands according to time passed and the temperature of the vehicle. First a warning light is turned on, followed by a warning beep and if necessary, notification by text messages to an expanding loop of contacts. The contacts will include rescuers who can remotely open the car doors and windows.

The system is easy to install, the sensor placed on the back of the front seat facing backwards plugs into the cigarette lighter socket and can easily be transferred from one vehicle to another. The entire rear seat is monitored and an additional safety seat is not required.

The students hope that the system can lead to a drastic reduction in the number of small children abandoned in vehicles.

Personalized Antibiotic Treatment

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Custom-tailored Antibiotics improve Treatment

Prof. Roy Kishony

Innovative technology is expected to improve the efficacy of antibiotic treatments as well as hinder the development of resistant bacteria. The technology, which was presented in a study published in Nature Medicine, was made possible by a unique collaboration between the Kahn-Sagol-Maccabi Research and Innovation Institute at Maccabi Healthcare Services (KSM), headed by Professor Varda Shalev, and Technion researchers Professor Roy Kishony and Dr. Idan Yelin.

The use of antibiotics globally is extensive and leads to bacteria developing antibiotic resistance. As a result, antibiotics lose their effectiveness, leading to concerns that in the future, bacterial Infections that are now considered mild and not dangerous will become treatment resistant and deadly.

One of the factors that speeds up the evolution of antibiotic resistance is the widespread use of broad-range antibiotics, drugs designed to kill a wide spectrum of bacteria. Reducing this dangerous trend can potentially be achieved by custom tailored antibiotic treatment.

Prof. Roy Kishony, one of the leading experts in the field of antibiotic resistance, developed methods for genetic mapping of bacterial resistance to antibiotics. These techniques make it possible to predict the resistance of a given bacterium to various antibiotics in the present and even to the level of resistance that bacteria may develop in the future.

In the joint study conducted by the Technion and researchers at the KSM Institute of Maccabi, a system was developed to help the doctor choose the optimal antibiotic for treating urinary tract infections. The study analyzed more than five million cases of antibiotic purchases made over 10 years and measurements of antibiotic resistance in more than 700,000 urine cultures. A sophisticated algorithm was able to find a clear link among the various data and thus predict the level of antibiotic resistance for each infection and provide a recommendation for the best type of antibiotics.

The researchers found that the use of the technology could reduce the likelihood of choosing the wrong medication by about 40%. Therefore, they estimate that this system will contribute greatly to the global effort to delay the “resistance epidemic.” The study is a significant step in the innovative field of medical studies based on machine learning and Big Data.

“It is now possible to computationally predict the level of bacterial resistance for infection causing bacteria,” said Dr. Yelin. “This is done by weighting of demographic data, including age, gender, pregnancy or retirement home residence, together with levels of resistance measured in the patient’s previous urine cultures as well as their drug purchase history.”

“The collaboration between Maccabi and the Technion – one of the most innovative research institutes in the world – and the combination of deep understanding of medicine, Big Data and innovative research methods has enabled a real breakthrough in the field of antibiotic resistance,” said Prof. Shalev. “We look forward to continued fruitful cooperation with the Technion.”

New Strategy Could Help Eliminate Cancer Cells

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Dr. Ganga B. Vamisetti, Prof. Ashraf Brik, Mickal Nawatha and Dr. Hao Sun.

New Strategy Could Lead to New Anticancer Treatments

Researchers from the Technion, in collaboration with Japanese and American scientists, have developed an innovative strategy for eliminating cancer cells. The research was recently published in Nature Chemistry by Prof. Ashraf Brik of the Schulich Faculty of Chemistry at the Technion, Prof. Hiro Suga of the University of Tokyo, Nobel Laureate in Chemistry and Distinguished Prof. Aaron Ciechanover of the Technion’s Rappaport Faculty of Medicine, and Prof. David Fushman of the University of Maryland’s Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry.

The study is a dramatic milestone in the application of the discovery of the ubiquitin system that led to the 2004 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for Distinguished Professors Avram Hershko and Aaron Ciechanover, and Dr. Irwin Rose. The trio of researchers discovered how unique proteins, which they called the “ubiquitin proteins,” label defective proteins with a “death tag” that leads to their breakdown in protease, also known as the “cellular garbage can.”

Proper functioning of the ubiquitin system is essential for the healthy functioning of the organism, not only in the context of the breakdown of used proteins, but also in many other functions. Disruptions in this system cause serious diseases, including various cancers, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s disease), cystic fibrosis, Parkinson’s disease, and other neurodegenerative disorders.

The discovery of ubiquitin paved the way for a new field of research, and many research groups around the world have been working on the ubiquitin system and harnessing it for developing innovative medical treatments. To date, four such drugs have been approved for the treatment of cancer in general and multiple myeloma in particular. These drugs have already saved the lives of many people around the world, but according to Prof. Brik, “the progress in the study of the ubiquitin system and the development of drugs based on its understanding are very slow relative to its potential.”

The first stage in the normal natural activity of the ubiquitin system is the creation of chains of ubiquitin (polyUB chains) that later label the proteins to be broken down. The problem is that when cancer develops in the body, cancer cells know how to carry out manipulation in the ubiquitin system and exploit it for survival and proliferation.

The strategy developed by the group headed by Prof. Brik was designed to neutralize the ability of the malignancy to perform the same manipulation. This strategy is based on an unprecedented combination of Prof. Brik’s skill in producing ubiquitin chains using advanced chemical methods and Prof. Suga’s method of creating very large libraries of molecules called cyclic peptides. As part of the collaboration, the researchers discovered how these cyclic peptides bind to the ubiquitin chains and thus inhibit the breakdown of proteins that help the cancer to grow and thrive. They believe the strategy they have developed will pave the way for new types of anticancer treatment based on cyclic peptides.

Prof. Ashraf Brik holds Jordan and Irene Tark Chair in the Schulich Faculty of Chemistry. The current study is supported by the US National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Miriam and Sheldon Adelson Foundation, the Israel Science Foundation (ISF), the Germany-Israel Foundation for Research and Development (GIF), and the Israel Cancer Research Foundation (ICRF).

International Self Care Day

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July 24th is International Self-Care Day. Since 2011, this day is a chance to raise awareness about the importance of self-care as a vital foundation of health. Enhancing self-care through exercise, balanced nutrition, and caring for our mental and physical health has life-long benefit.

Technion researchers and alumni are constantly delivering breakthroughs helping improve the health of our bodies and minds. A healthy lifestyle comes from a conscious effort to change our habits, and what better time to start than today!

TAKING PERSONAL NUTRITION TO NEW HEIGHTS

Technion Alumnus Yaron Hadad launched start-up, Nutrino Health, a digital health and data analytics platform that gets to know your personal biochemistry in an effort to help you eat healthier.

The company is building the world’s largest and most adaptable nutrition insights platform to uncover connections between people and food which will empower nutritional decisions for better health outcomes.

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I FEEL YOU

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle as you age can be difficult. Technion is participating in the Empathic Research & Innovation Project – an initiative to develop personalized virtual coaches to assist the elderly in their self-care at home.

Virtual coaches will engage healthy seniors and provide advice to promote healthy habits and behaviour, with an aim to transform  goals and needs into actions.

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THE MIND BODY CONNECTION

Scientists continue to explore new ways to optimize brain health. The Fourth International BrainTech Conference in Tel Aviv brought together leading scientists, clinicians and entrepreneurs who work at the intersection of brain health and technology.

Technion scientists are amongst those exploring the mind-body connection and uncovering how technology can promote neuro well-being.

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CARING FOR THE COMMUNITY

Ensuring access to medical care for all individuals keeps communities healthy. The Technion’s Rappaport Faculty of Medicine has established “Ruach Tova” (Hebrew for “Good Spirit”), a free, interprofessional student-run community health center in the City of Haifa.

Students gain valuable clinical experience as they serve their community, and empower others to practice self-care.

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IT’S NOT HOW YOUNG YOU LOOK 

Technion researchers have found that the state of an individual’s immune system is a better predictor of health than outward appearance or chronological age.

This finding will assist in investigating the possible lifestyle factors, habits and medications that affect longevity to help us optimize our health.

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MENTAL HEALTH MATTERS

As an international partner of Meeting for Minds, Technion professors serve as scientific and research advisors for this important initiative to partner brain research into complex mental health disorders with patients’ lived experience.

Professors Asya Rolls and Itamar Kahn are amongst those researching new psychiatric treatments.

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