Campaign Priorities

Leadership for Tomorrow

Leadership for Tomorrow

 

 


The future of the Hebrew University is only as bright as the talent and faculty it can attract in the coming years. Therefore, we are committed to attracting the very best students and scholars. With the continued support of our generous community, we can drive the innovative breakthroughs needed to solve the world’s complex problems, and together make the Hebrew University of tomorrow a reality.

Global Collaboration

Global Collaboration

 

 

In an increasingly connected world, technology is reducing and eliminating traditional borders and boundaries. Information and knowledge are being shared faster than ever before and real-time communication is bringing people and ideas together, often without even meeting face-to-face.    

Better World

Better World

 

 

Driven by its mission to develop science and knowledge for the benefit of humankind, the Hebrew University embraces initiatives that aspire to a better world by:

  • Training future researchers, professionals, and leaders to pursue in-depth scholarship, ask big questions, and develop new approaches to solving local and world challenges.

  • Creating knowledge with far-reaching potential and sharing it with students and colleagues from around the world.

Building Capacity

Building Capacity

 

 

Allowing the next generation of scholars to solve society’s most pressing challenges requires places and spaces. Hebrew University is committed to building the necessary laboratories,  libraries, classrooms, and more, so that our students and faculty can meet, share ideas, engage in pioneering research, and ultimately change the world.

Human Impact

Celebrating 100 Years of Knowledge, 2018 Board of Governors

BOG 2018 Logo

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This year, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem is gearing up to celebrate the centennial anniversary of the laying of the cornerstones, with the theme: 100 Years of Knowledge.

 

BOG 2018 Highlights:

1) Cinema, Cocktails and Celebration The BOG will kick off with an evening celebrating cinema and the Hebrew University at the Jerusalem Cinematheque.

2) 100 Years of Knowledge and Vision At the Dan Jerusalem Hotel we will hold HUJI Talks, with spectacular speakers, where we will celebrate the past 100 years and look forward to the next 100.

3) Presidents Reception: Honoring Israeli Excellence  For the first time in history, Hebrew University award recipients (Nobel, Israel Prize, EMET, and more) will be honored by President Rivlin at an exclusive reception.

4) Gala dinner celebrating 100 Years of Knowledge Enjoy a magical evening at the Tower of David Museum, featuring a spectacular interactive multimedia show broadcast on the Old City walls.

5) Open Day on Campus Gain fascinating knowledge from our visionaries, with lectures by our best and brightest Honorary Doctorate recipients and Nobel laureates.

6) Ceremony Rededicating the Cornerstone Friends from around the world will bring a symbolic gift to rededicate the cornerstones, in tribute to our success and growth of the last 100 years.

7) An Evening of Dance under the Stars At the Rothberg Amphitheatre, guests will enjoy a captivating performance by the Batsheva Dance Company: “Decca Dance," choreographed by 2008 Honorary Doctorate recipient, Ohad Naharin with audience participation.

8) Celebrating 75 Years of the Robert H. Smith Faculty of Agriculture, Food and Environment The closing event held in Rehovot will boast a festival-type atmosphere with live music, dancing, and food. The event will bring together alumni, faculty and BOG participants for an unforgettable event culminating the BOG.

Please register early at hubog-2018.com to guarantee reservation of your preferred accommodations.

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AFHU's Bubby Goes Viral

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The American Friends of Hebrew University launched a new marketing campaign, and their bubby films have gone viral.

Meet Judith Cohen, once you meet her, you won't forget her! Watch the clip below.

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Applying Machine Learning to Medical Image Processing

Avigail Suna

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Avigail Suna holds an undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering. After graduating she began working for Largix, a local robotics startup company, where she first discovered the allure of computer science.  

Working alongside a Hebrew University alumna who taught her to program robots in different languages, Avigail’s eyes were opened to the beauty and elegance of well-written code, and its potential to optimize teamwork. Today, Avigail is a MSc student at the Rachel and Selim Benin School of Computer Science and Engineering.

"I’m really enjoying my studies. I’ve taken a few image processing classes, where my 3D background has been an advantage. The coursework is challenging and gratifying. I’m also amazed by my peers. We work together to succeed, offering a helping hand at any hour of the day (or night!). It is a creative and stimulating environment."

Before beginning her graduate studies, Avigail had met Hebrew University Prof. Leo Joskowicz at a conference. His background is also in robotics, and today he focuses on medical image processing. Avigail joined his lab and conducts research in this field, integrating traditional techniques with machine learning. Specifically, she’s working with Hadassah doctors on an algorithm that can assist in determining, based on an x-ray alone, whether patients with a fractured distal radius will need to undergo surgery.

"I greatly enjoy working alongside people with different professional backgrounds and feel that I am learning a lot. I’m enjoying the challenges and am satisfied knowing that I’m working on a real-world project that will help doctors and patients alike."

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Yakov Shapiro, Communications and International Relations

Yakov Shapiro

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Jacob (Yakov) Shapiro is a third-year student in the departments of Communications and International Relations. He was born to parents who immigrated to Israel in the early 1990s from Minsk (now Belarus). When Jacob was four years old, his parents separated. His mother raised him, while also caring for her aging mother. Jacob’s father cut off all contact.

A few years after his parents separated, Jacob’s grandmother suffered a stroke. She was moved to a geriatric nursing home, where she remained, uncommunicative, until her death twelve years later. All the while, Jacob’s mother cared for both her mother and son. To help with the finances, Jacob began working at an early age.

Jacob excelled at school and was placed in a class for gifted children. He also volunteered at the nursing home where his grandma had lived and at the sports center, assisting coaching children in tennis.

After completing his military service, Jacob volunteered for a Jewish Agency delegation to Cherkasy, Ukraine. It was there recognized his sense of mission and representing Israel to the world. Throughout his studies, Jacob continued to travel to Ukraine twice a year and the dream of becoming a diplomat began to take shape. He is fully committed to strengthening ties between Diaspora Jewry, Judaism, and Israel, and hopes to enroll as a cadet in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ training course after graduation.

"I am very proud of overcoming so many challenges, and know that I couldn’t have done it myself. The fact that I, a second-generation immigrant, will soon graduate with a degree from Israel’s best university shouldn’t be taken for granted. I am thankful for the scholarship and support and look forward to my future. I can’t wait to see where life will take me!

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Discovery of Promising Cure for Day Blindness by Gene Therapy

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Prof. Ron Ofri of Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Koret School of Veterinary Medicine has developed a gene therapy that may cure hereditary day blindness, called achromatopsia. People affected by this vision disorder cannot see in bright daylight, can only see in low-light conditions, and have low visual acuity and colorblindness as well. Incidence of the disease varies according to population, genetic background, and rate of marriages between close relatives, with its prevalence in Jerusalem affecting one out of 5,000 individuals.

Prof. Ofri and his colleagues, Professor Eyal Banin of Hadassah Medical Center, Professor Elisha Gootwine of the Volcani Agricultural Research Organization and Professor W. W. Hauswirth of the University of Florida derived successful results from gene therapy trials administered to a herd of Awassi sheep with the same disorder. When sheep with day blindness were injected with a virus containing a normal copy of the missing gene that is responsible for the disorder, this successfully restored the sheep’s daytime vision. What is remarkable is that from this single gene-therapy treatment, the oldest surviving sheep from the original trials has retained its eyesight.

These promising findings, occurring less than ten years after the herd with day blindness was identified by the scientists, has launched FDA-approved clinical trials in several US medical centers. Israel’s Ministry of Health has also approved clinical trials to begin during 2019 at Hadassah Medical Center. “This marks a wonderful feat in ovine-to-human and research-to-cure efforts," shared Professor Ofri.

To view the sheep in the trial, see more.

 

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Sara Abeba, Social Work and Law Student

Sara Abeba

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Sara Abeba, 28, is doing a dual degree in social work and law. Born and raised in Netanya, her parents immigrated to Israel in the 1991 Operation Solomon airlift of Ethiopian Jews. Her mother has worked as a cleaner since her father’s death several years ago. Sara served as an officer in the Education Corps for her compulsory IDF service.

She was the first among the six siblings in her family to pursue a university degree which, she says, “pushes me to succeed and to be an example and a role model”. Her scholarship has been of significance for two reasons: “First is the understanding that there are people who feel it is important to give of themselves and contribute to society. This makes me aspire to reach a situation where I can help and give as much as possible. The second is the economic side: my family does not have the ability to support me financially and undoubtedly, the scholarship has filled this void.”

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SESAME: Scientific Progress and Diplomacy

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Eliezer Rabinovici, professor of Particle Physics at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, recently received the 2019 Award for Science Diplomacy from the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) for his outstanding scientific and diplomatic contributions to SESAME (Synchrotron-light Experimental Science and Applications in the Middle East), founded in Jordan in 2017.

Rabinovici played a crucial role in the founding and, now, guiding of SESAME’s laboratory, the first such research center in the area. With partners from Cyprus, Egypt, Iran, Israel, Jordan, Pakistan, the Palestinian Authority and Turkey, SESAME has established an unprecedented level of cooperation between scientists from the Middle East, typically an area of conflict. Despite political and practical obstacles that sometimes threaten SESAME’s work, its dedicated members propel their mission forward.  

Rabinovici provides scientific and diplomatic guidance for the group whose focus is a synchrotron light beam, valuable across many scientific disciplines due to its ability to uncover key structural components at the atomic level. Innovations in scientific fields as unrelated as archaeology and medicine will be beneficiaries of this strategic light.

 “In recent years, there is hardly a more shining example of science diplomacy than SESAME, which demonstrates the power of science to build bridges in the face of geopolitical tensions,” said Mahlet Mesfin, deputy director of the AAAS Center for Science Diplomacy

Read more here.

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Dr. Haitham Amal's Lab

Haitham Amal

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Dr. Amal is an Assistant Professor in the Institute for Drug Research, School of Pharmacy, Faculty of Medicine at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. His lab studies neurological disorders such as the autism spectrum and Alzheimer's disease using advanced omics technologies combined with bioinformatics, pharmacological, biochemical, biological, and behavioral methods. Specifically, Dr. Amal's lab is interested in the role of nitric oxide and S-nitrosylation in these disorders. Ultimately, Dr. Amal aspires to understand these diseases’ molecular mechanisms, detect early biomarkers, and discover novel therapeutic strategies.  

In the News

An article featuring the lab that Dr. Amal led as a graduate student can be found here.

A YNET article about Dr. Amal's Lab (Hebrew) can be found here.

Dr. Amal was recently featured in The Marker's 40/40 List. Click HERE for a link to the article.

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Managers Who Listen Boost Staff Creativity

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Managers who listen attentively could boost their team members’ creativity, suggests a new study from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and King’s Business School at King’s College London.

Published in the American Psychology Associations’ journal Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, the international study of nearly 700 participants used surveys and laboratory experiments to show that employees who felt that they were being listened to were more likely to rate themselves as creative, to be more prolific in their output in a creative task and to produce higher quality work.  Their study also found that these positive effects do not take place when managers are distracted while listening to them.

In contrast with most research on creativity, which focuses on how people can make themselves more creative by listening to others and absorbing their ideas, this research focuses on the role of the manager and on the difference that can be made in one-on-one interactions.

Dr. Dotan Castro at Hebrew University’s Federmann School of Public Policy and Government explained that the series of studies was designed not just to establish the connection between creativity and being listened to but also to understand the reason for this link.

“When an employee feels listened to, it enhances their sense of psychological safety.  It may be that this boosts creativity because they can focus more on the creative task; they aren’t wasting mental energy on making micro-calculations about how their manager might respond to what they are saying,” Castro shared.

King’s Business School Professor Frederik Anseel added, “any manager could put this research into practice today.  However, organizations should also consider the potentially powerful effect of introducing listening training or adopting a listening circle as a complement to the brainstorming techniques that are more commonplace.”

The scientists’ final laboratory test explored the impact of the quality of listening on an employee’s creativity by placing a flickering screen in the listener’s eyeline.  The speakers were unaware of the presence of the screen, and were tasked with coming up with as many creative slogans as they could for an imaginary product. 

Those who had a partner distracted by the screen gave their listener a poorer score for listening.  More importantly, these speakers came up with fewer slogans and these were typically rated as less creative, by independent judges, than those produced by the group with ‘good listeners’.

As Castro concluded, “this finding is also crucial: if you want to use the power of listening to enhance creativity, you can’t fake it.  You have to give your employee your undivided attention and it is worth making sure that the setting you choose gives you the opportunity to do that.”

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Shuvi Hoffman, Revivim Alumna and Pedagogical Mentor

Shuvi Hoffman

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Though Shuvi Hoffman graduated from Revivim several years ago, she still lives and breathes its educational values, as a pedagogical mentor working with the program’s fourth and final year students. 

Knowing that helping the next generation learn would be her life’s work, Shuvi enrolled in Revivim with three clear objectives in mind. “I wanted to develop academically and earn a Master’s degree in Bible interpretation; to receive superb on-the-job pedagogic training; and to grow as an educator with a broad set of Jewish and liberal values.” 

Now a staff member, Shuvi is responsible for mentoring the students as they transition from the intense supervision of their teaching during years 2-3 of this unique program, and their complete independence as teachers upon graduating from Revivim. 

Her job has both internal and external components. Internally, Shuvi holds weekly workshops for her students on campus, where they deal with broad educational, pedagogical, and teaching issues, such as class management, educational philosophies, the learning process, marking homework, interacting with students’ parents, and other day-to-day challenges. These workshops serve as a forum where the students can share their problems, discuss pressing matters, and obtain practical tools they can implement in their teaching. The tools that Shuvi imparts to her students include encouraging active learning, integrating the use of games in class, experimenting with role-play, diversifying their teaching methods, and managing heterogeneous classes. To further broaden their horizons, Shuvi invites guest educational experts to these workshops to expose the students to innovative teaching ideas. 

Outside the University, Shuvi conducts monthly observations of the students’ teaching, providing constructive criticism, guidance and support, and sharing feedback from the schools’ principals.  No less important to her is the end goal: preparing her students for finding suitable teaching positions and coaching them throughout their job search.

Shuvi recently delivered a webinar titled, Jewish Educators for the 21st Century.

"For me, educating the educators is extremely gratifying. When high schools principals tell me they are only looking to hire Revivim graduates, as they can rely on their skills and know-how, it’s a wonderful feeling."

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Student Dormitories

Dorm Photo

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The Hebrew University dormitories are located on and near the campuses in Rehovot and across Jerusalem. The eight residential complexes include 4,500 rooms, which can house 6000 students. In addition, there are around 200 units for families and couples.

Over the last year, the University has improved its residential services in a number of ways. First, a new mobile-friendly website was launched, in both Hebrew and English. International and exchange students are able to learn about the dorms before their arrival, and communicate with the staff more easily during their time in Jerusalem. One dormitory re-opened for short-term stays, making it more attractive to international students.

The University is investing significant resources towards renovating its various facilities. While all buildings need some work, the extent varies. Some buildings receive cosmetic treatment, including fresh paint, new furniture, and new computer labs, while others are undergoing more intensive work, including new bathrooms and showers, upgrading smoke detectors, replacing AC systems, installing new windows and sealing roofs.

In addition, some buildings received upgraded WIFI, while others had a heat pump installed to reduce their carbon footprint.

As a result of these efforts, student satisfaction has risen. At the beginning of the school year, move-in went much more smoothly than previous years. Most significantly, the dormitories remain at full capacity and the staff simply hears less from students – the best indicator that students are having a wonderful experience in the dormitories.  

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Okot Samuel Obonyo, IMPH Student

Okot Samuel Obonyo

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Okot Samuel Obonyo was born in the Agago district, northern Uganda, in 1986, a year before the founding of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and the onset of the violence that plagued that region for two decades. He belongs to the Acholi tribe. 

In many ways, Samuel’s life story is marked by the most notorious aspects of that bloody conflict; he repeatedly escaped death, while witnessing horrifying massacres. At the age of 13, he narrowly escaped abduction by the ruthless rebels, who intended to brainwash and train him as a child soldier. Unfortunately, several of Samuel’s family members, relatives, and friends lost their lives to the rebels.

Amidst all these conflicts, Samuel persisted and was lucky to continue his primary and secondary education, all while dreaming of becoming a medical doctor.

"I saw my classmates drop out one by one. They lost hope in their studies, in their future. Many joined the LRA. Others lost parents to fighting or HIV/AIDS and needed to support their families. I estimate that out of 300 primary students, only a tiny handful has reached any type of higher education."

Thanks to relatives living in central Uganda, Samuel was able to move to a more peaceful region and eventually completed his high school education. He began studying towards a bachelor’s degree in environmental health at Makerere University, located in Kampala – 600 km away from his family.

Between semesters, Samuel would travel by bus back home – which was an internally displaced person’s camps (IDP). The IDP camps were established by the government to provide protection yet were largely run and serviced by international NGOs. In the camps, people suffered from an array of maladies, including hunger, malnutrition, dysentery, hepatitis E, cholera, and HIV/AIDS.

Due to the region’s volatility, very few qualified health workers or volunteers were willing to work in northern Uganda. As a result, Samuel began volunteering in the IDP camps during his breaks from school, teaching people about hygiene and sanitation, malaria prevention, cholera, and more. When his break ended, he would board the bus and return to his studies at the University. 

Upon the completion of his degree in 2010, Samuel returned home to continue serving his people in the IDP camps. Peace talks had resulted in a burgeoning sense of peace in northern Uganda, and the government advised people to return to their ancestral homes, while NGOs began scaling down their activities. 

For the last three years, Samuel has worked for the Nwoya district local government, as an Assistant District Health Officer in charge of environmental health. In 2019 he moved to Jerusalem to begin the International Master in Public Health program (IMPH). This was Samuel’s first time outside of Uganda. After graduating, he will return home and assume his job, as he continues to serve the war-ravaged, impoverished district.

"I aspire to one day work for the Ministry of Health as a Commissioner, or as a Public Health consultant. I want to advocate for the health of marginalized populations, because of everything I’ve seen and been through."

Samuel is greatly enjoying his time in Jerusalem and has been very impressed by Israel’s healthcare system. The IMPH program has been challenging and interesting, and he hopes to apply everything he has learned towards improving the lives of Ugandans, especially in the northern region.

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Bolstering Students’ Language Skills

Two Students of Maayan

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Maayan Bamidbar (trans. a wellspring in the desert) builds bridges between Arab and Jewish students, helping Arabic-speakers succeed in their studies, while introducing Jewish students to Arabic language and culture.

Maayan Bamidbar is a reciprocal tutoring program that was founded upon the belief that despite the University’s potential to bring together Arab and Jewish students, more often than not language barriers and prejudice stand in the way. This program fosters encounters between students – who may sit next to each other in class but never actually talk – enabling them to become acquainted with each other’s culture.

The program is rooted in the idea that both Jewish and Arab students need help, and both have something to offer – all while building a friendship outside of one’s ordinary social circle.

Paired students meet for 2-3 hours each week. The first half of the session is dedicated to helping the Arab student with Hebrew, academic writing, and often math and English. The latter half of the session is led by the Arab student, and focuses on learning spoken Arabic. Jewish students receive a small stipend for their tutoring.

The program has been operating at the Hebrew University since 2018, and its impact is evident. Increasingly, Jewish and Arab students hang out on campus together – studying, eating, and schmoozing between classes.

The Maayan Bamidbar Facebook page can be found here.

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Creating a Welcoming City Post-Coronavirus Lockdown

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In a world reimagined due to the Coronavirus, where social distancing, hygiene regulations, and governmental restrictions are infused into nearly every activity, cities find themselves needing to reinvent the public arena. The Tel Aviv-Jaffa Municipality, home to nearly half a million people, was determined to combat the fear and the economic slump engendered by the stay-at-home measures, while also ensuring the existence of a welcoming, green, safe, and equitable city following the easing of restrictions. 

Thus, the municipality turned to the Hebrew University's Urban Clinic, renowned for its expertise in community planning projects, to help develop its exit strategy from the lockdown. The Urban Clinic's combination of academic depth and practical experience placed it in a unique position to guide the municipality and develop creative solutions. 

The Urban Clinic, in partnership with the Urban Innovation and Sustainability Lab at Tel Aviv University, performed a triple role. As convener, they established the forum for the exit strategy, bringing together some 50 specialists in transport, welfare, housing, economics, sociology, and architecture. These included professionals and academics, as well as decision-makers from the Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, and Beersheva municipalities. The Clinic's role in enabling all these people to brainstorm together, virtually, was crucial. 

In its second task, as curator, the Clinic organized and moderated a series of weekly Zoom meetings, with break-out sessions to analyze each topic in depth. The Clinic carefully tailored these meetings to facilitate information exchange, creative thinking, and open discussions. 

The Clinic’s third function was pedagogical: to educate the forum’s members by preparing summaries of the literature and experience from abroad on post-lockdown scenarios, while creating an efficient format for taking practical steps and reaching concrete outcomes. Time was of the essence: residents were itching for normalcy, yet it was clear that the exit strategy also had to be sound, making all the difference to the residents’ quality of life and the ongoing management of the pandemic.  

One of the forum’s primary objectives was providing services for the city’s vulnerable denizens. The challenge was to provide their needs within public venues, while also maintaining social distancing. It became clear that sharing spaces was going to be vital.  With the Clinic’s guidance, the forum identified underutilized locations. For example, they recommended using schools in the afternoon and community centers in the morning. In this way, community activities and social services could be safely provided. This format was hugely successful and is expected to serve as a model for other cities in Israel.   

 

An in-depth article about Hadas, a member of the Urban Clinic heavily involved in these efforts, can be found here.

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Hebrew University Researchers Develop COVID-19 Diagnostic Test that is 10x Faster

Corona Tests

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The Test Uses Materials Commonly Found in Labs

Media outlets around the world have reported a shortage of COVID-19 testing materials.  This shortage slows down the rate of testing and increases the rate of infection, as thousands of undiagnosed patients walk around, unknowingly infecting healthy and at-risk populations.  Now, Professor Nir Friedman at Hebrew University of Jerusalem (HU)’s Institute of Life Sciences and School of Engineering and Computer Science and Professor Naomi Habib at HU’s Edmond and Lily Safra Center for Brain Science have developed a faster and cheaper way to test of COVID-19 using materials commonly found in diagnostic labs.

Testing for COVID-19 currently involves extracting RNA molecules from a patient's swab sample to see whether they contain viral RNA that confirms the presence of the COVID-19 virus.  The new method developed by Friedman and Habib can do the same thing, only faster.  As Habib shared, "The virus detection protocol we developed is four-to-ten times faster than the current protocol.  It’s based on magnetic beads and works both robotically and manually. The robotic protocol has already been tested at Hadassah Hospital and is now fully operational.”

Another advantage to this new testing method is its low price.  The test relies on materials that are readily available and easy to manufacture locally, making it significantly cheaper than imported kits. Magnetic beads are the only item in the protocol that still needs to be imported from overseas.  However, these beads can be recycled and used again and again.  As Friedman explained, "our COVID-19 test significantly reduces labs’ dependence on external factors. To date, we’ve tested hundreds of clinical samples from Hadassah Hospital and our results were identical to those found by the kits currently being used.”

The researchers’ next step is to develop a method that would allow for tens of thousands of samples to be tested simultaneously instead of the current rate of thousands of tests.  This feat would be based on genomic sequencing and the results, so far, are promising.  "We’re encouraged by preliminary—and positive indications—that this method will work,” added Friedman.

To complete their tests, Habib and Friedman have teamed up with 15 researchers and lab students from the University.  "It’s very moving to see a large group of researchers so dedicated to finding a solution to our current crisis, one that will get Israel—and hopefully the rest of the world—back to normal," said Habib.  That, indeed, would be good news for everyone.

The research team includes Dr. Ayelet Rahat Dr. Masha Adam, Alon Chapelbaum, Dr. Ronen Sadeh and Dr. Agnes Kloschendler, along with two robotics experts, Dr. Uri Shabi and Dr. Moshe Cohen. The study was funded by the Caesarea Foundation.

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Glocal: Making a Difference On the Ground

Glocal Students

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The Glocal Masters program at the Hebrew University is helping making a difference on the ground, helping impoverished villages across South-East Asia to improve their residents’ nutrition, provide clean water, and create basic decent human living conditions for housing, health and education.

Dr. Nancy Strichman, who teaches teaches graduate courses in evaluation and strategic thinking at the Hebrew University’s Glocal program, shares her observations about Israeli backpackers of all ages traveling, learning, and volunteering across South-East Asia.

 

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Past and Present Collide

Clay Seal

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A clay seal from the First Temple Period, inscribed in ancient Hebrew script, was unearthed in the Israel Antiquities Authority excavations at the Western Wall Plaza in Jerusalem.  

According to the excavator, Dr. Shlomit Weksler-Bdolah, "the Bible mentions two governors of Jerusalem, and this finding reveals that such a position was actually held by someone in the city some 2700 years ago."

The seal was analyzed by Hebrew University Prof. Tallay Ornan and her colleague Prof. Benjamin Sass at Tel Aviv University.  They described what they found: "Above a double line are two standing men, facing each other in a mirror-like manner. Their heads are depicted as large dots, lacking any details. The hands facing outward are dropped down, and the hands facing inward are raised. Each of the figures is wearing a striped, knee-length garment." The bottom section reads, in early Hebrew script: “To the governor of the city." 

In the Bible, the role of "governor of Jerusalem" appears several times.  In 1 Kings, Joshua is listed as the governor of the city in the days of Hezekiah, and in 2 Chronicles, Maaseiah is noted as governor of the city in the days of Josiah.

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The Career Center

The Career Center
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Seeking to provide its students not only with a stellar academic and professional education but also with assistance in finding suitable and fulfilling employment following their degree studies, in October 2019 the Hebrew University opened the Hebrew University (HUJI) Career Center, which operates in conjunction with the Student Union and partners in the Jerusalem municipality.

In the tradition of universities in the United States, the new HUJI Career Center offers Hebrew University students and graduates a range of services, from individual career counseling, through lectures and workshops designed to hone job market skills, to large-scale mediated encounters with potential employers.

The Hebrew University is seeking to more firmly establish the existing activities, some currently funded from various temporary sources, and to expand the activities and services offered to University students (including targeted services for specific populations such as Arab and Haredi students), thus providing all students with the optimal preparation for securing appropriate, rewarding employment following their graduation.

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Meet Karthikeyan Pandi, PhD Dental Student

Karthikeyan Pandi

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Karthikeyan "Karthick" Pandi is a PhD student in the Faculty of Dental Medicine. He grew up in Madurai, a city in southern India, and is the first in his family to pursue a higher education. He studied biotechnology, earning a BSc at Thiagarajar College in his hometown, and then a Msc from Alagappa University, two hours away. He decided to dedicate himself to dental research after a dear friend and neighbor lost their life to oral cancer.

Having been exposed to HUJI research and publications, Karthick chose to study at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem because it would best prepare him for a career conducting dental research. He currently studies the way in which P. gingivalis, the bacteria that causes periodontal disease, evades the human immune system.

"My education has given me a solid foundation for a career in research, and I am so glad I made the decision to come here. … I am lucky enough to have access to everything that HUJI can offer."

Moving to a foreign country, Karthikeyan wasn’t sure what to expect. He’s surrounded by different languages and is working to learn both Hebrew and Arabic. “I have been enjoying the peace of Shabbath, which you can't find in India,” Karthikeyan says. He enjoys immersing himself in the beauty and history of the Old City.

But in the present, Karthikeyan has found that the University is an excellent way to encounter different cultures and communities, alongside a rigorous academic program. He says, “Apart from the difficulties associated with the language, HUJI seems the best in its hospitality for foreign students.”

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Community Development: Theory Meets Practice

Jean Claude Muhire

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Meet Jean Claude Muhire, Glocal Alum (2014/15)

Jean Claude Muhire was born in the Democratic Republic of Congo, to Rwandan parents who fled the 1959 ethnic violence. His father teaches primary school, while his mother raised Jean Claude along with his five siblings. When he was seven, his family returned to Rwanda. 

Growing up, his family wasn’t necessarily poor, but finances were tight. Jean Claude received a government scholarship to study fundamental and computational physics at the National University of Rwanda. While he was more inclined towards people-centered fields, such as public health and development, he made the most of it. During his studies he began volunteering, and later working, for the non-profit organization, Spark Microgrants. He would assist communities as they planned, designed, and carried out projects with their micro-grant. 

After graduating, Jean Claude began the Global Health Fellowship, a leadership development program that included training at Yale University. He then spent a year driving social impact projects with vulnerable communities through Health Poverty Action, a non-profit organization working in rural Rwanda. By that time, he was ready to take his next academic step, and applied to Glocal. 

Entering the program, Jean Claude hoped to gain a theoretical framework for understanding his experiences in the field. Glocal’s classes introduced him to new concepts, such as program evaluation, population dynamics, and critical thinking. In particular, he remembers one discussion focused on critiquing a model for giving money directly to people, rather than funding NGOs.

"I was adamantly opposed to directly giving money without any strings attached. I believed that people needed training, not cash. Handing $1,000 to a family who’d never even had $10 – they couldn’t possibly know how to use it wisely."

For his internship, Jean Claude returned to Rwanda to work with World Relief, a faith-based non-profit organization. He helped saving groups (neighborhood-based loan/credit unions) digitalize their transactions, using a donated smartphone. 

After graduating, he returned to Rwanda and began working for GiveDirectly, paving the way for the non-profit to begin working in Rwanda. It took over two years, but he succeeded. Suddenly, the theoretical discussion in class became a practical reality.

"I came to understand that people living in extreme poverty have priorities. They are in the best position to decide what they need. One family replaced their grass roof with one made of more durable materials. Another family, who’d always slept on the floor, bought mattresses. We take these things for granted, such as getting a good night’s sleep."

Five years after graduation, Jean Claude now runs his own consulting business, helping non-profits establish their operations in Rwanda, such as a multimillion-dollar poverty alleviation outcomes fund through an organization called Instiglio. He also works for the Friedrich-Ebert Foundation, managing programs and partnerships with government institutions, think tanks, trade unions, and civil society organizations that promote social protection and governance.

"My experience at Glocal was mind-blowing.  What I do today is pure development work. How I negotiate or design a program, evaluate the program, or understand its impact on partners – I learned it all at Glocal. In addition, a master’s degree from the Hebrew University opens many doors and helps me build bridges with different partners. Having a degree from such a prestigious university gives credibility to my CV."

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It’s All up in the Air: Transmission of the Coronavirus

Nadav and Liraz Research
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Researchers

Dr. Nadav Kashtan is a systems microbiologist who ordinarily studies bacteria, exploring the viability of microorganisms within microscopic droplets on surfaces or in the air.

Dr. Liraz Chai is a chemist whose research ordinarily focuses on the study of bacterial biofilms. In particular, she studies how salts and macromolecules affect the properties of water in biofilms.

As the Coronavirus spread, scientists began racing to understand the virus, its structure, method of infection, and effect on the human body. Dr. Kashtan and Dr. Chai stopped and asked a much more basic question: How does the virus survive the journey between an infected person and an uninfected person?

While the terms droplets and aerosols are now commonly tossed around, Dr. Kashtan and Dr. Chai are taking their questions to the lab – and applying the full force of their, knowledge, tools, and expertise to better understand how the virus is transmitted between people.

Most virologist and epidemiologists are studying the virus itself – without asking how it remains viable as it is transmitted between people. This is a crucial question for flattening the curve and preventing infections in the first place.

-    Dr. Kashtan

Survival Rates in the Lab

In the initial study, which is currently in preprint, Dr. Kashtan compared the virus’s ability to survive in microdroplets composed of water, saliva, and SM buffer (a common laboratory medium) under typical indoor conditions. He discovered that the virus displayed much higher viability rates in dry saliva microdroplets than in the other two media. In other words, outside of the human body, saliva enables the virus to survive suspended in the air (especially in closed rooms) and survive on surfaces. 

This study used a different, safer virus, Phi6, as a surrogate for the Coronavirus. (Phi6 infects bacteria, not humans, and is commonly used to study respiratory diseases). The two viruses are similar in size and structure, including having a lipid membrane and spike proteins. 

What Is It About Saliva? 

To answer this question, Dr. Kashtan joined forces with Dr. Chai. Together, they are now studying the physico-chemical properties of saliva that enable the virus to survive. Dr. Kashtan is contributing his knowledge of microbiology, while Dr. Chai brings her lab’s analytical methods to the table. 

We see value in conducting interdisciplinary research, with each of us contributing from our knowledge to combat this virus. We’re also taking a slightly different approach; rather than search for a cure, we’re asking how the virus survives in the environment – in order to reduce morbidity and mortality rates.

-    Dr. Liraz Chai

To start, they want to screen saliva samples from different people and assess virus survival rates between them (Dr. Kashtan). Then, in order to understand what characterizes saliva samples with high or low survival rates, Dr. Chai will analyze the saliva components: sugars, salts, proteins, and more. Once they’ve the combined their data, they will check for any correlation between composition and viral viability.

Next, they will take two approaches. First, top-down, they will begin eliminating components of saliva, while bottom-up they will start with water and begin adding components. In both cases, they will measure viral viability every step along the way, until identifying which factor(s) enable the virus to survive outside of the human body.

The next step will be devising a method to prevent the survival of the virus in saliva. Who knows? Perhaps the panacea will be a dispenser that automatically sprays the room – or a special chewing gum?  

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Dr. Tamar Avin-Wittenberg's Lab

Dr. Tamar Avin-Wittenberg

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Studying Plant Metabolism

The Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences

“My group’s research area is nutrient remobilization in plants. We use Gas Chromatography Mass Spectrometry (GCMS) to analyze the composition of small molecules and check how plants break down compounds from one tissue to be used as building blocks in other  tissues. These are easily measured using GCMS, and in the future we will also use the machine to examine the rate in which metabolites are produced and degraded, which is a closer approximation of the actual metabolism of the cell.”

                           - Dr. Tamar Avin-Wittenberg

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Highlights from the 2018 Board of Governors Meeting

BOG Convocation 2018

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Celebrating 100 Years of the Laying of the University Cornerstones

This year’s annual Board of Governors (BOG) meeting was marked with special distinction as The Hebrew University of Jerusalem celebrated the centennial anniversary of the laying of its cornerstones. The theme of this year’s BOG was 100 Years of Knowledge.

Highlights of the week included a VIP appearance from Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat; HUJI Talks with spectacular speakers at the Dan Jerusalem Hotel; for the first time ever, an exclusive reception at President of Israel Reuven Rivlin’s residence; a magical evening at the Tower of David Museum, featuring an interactive multimedia show broadcast on the Old City walls; and as always, the University’s convocation ceremony for its doctoral candidates, also honoring the University’s 2018 Honorary Doctorate, and Bublick and Rothberg Prize recipients.

In honor of the University’s 100 years, this year’s BOG also held a ceremony rededicating the cornerstones of the University, where University Friends from around the world brought a message, placed in a time capsule, in tribute to the University’s success and growth. At another event, at the Rothberg Amphitheatre, guests enjoyed a captivating performance by the Batsheva Dance Company, choreographed by 2008 Honorary Doctorate recipient Ohad Naharin.

This year also marked the 75th year anniversary of the Robert H. Smith Faculty of Agriculture, Food and Environment, and in tribute, the BOG’s closing event was held at its Rehovot campus, boasting a festival-type atmosphere with live music, dancing, food, and lots of excitement. Alumni, faculty, students and BOG participants came together to celebrate not just a successful BOG but to celebrate the Hebrew University’s century of success and its bright future.

 

Click on the videos below to watch highlights from the 2018 Board of Governors:

 

 

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HU Students Volunteer in the Coronavirus Labs

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In this behind the scenes tour, meet the Hebrew University students and researchers spearheading efforts against Covid-19. They are volunteering their time, expertise, and lab equipment to help process Corona tests.

 

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The Online Legal Hotline: Law Students & Alumni Rise to the Hour

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For the past 6 years, Adv. Ohad Amar has taught the Representation of Marginalized Communities course at the Faculty of Law and provided professional guidance for the ~20 students who volunteer annually in the eponymous legal clinic. Each week, the students operate legal aid centers (clinics) in many of Jerusalem’s peripheral and underserved neighborhoods, including Katamonim, Neve Yaakov, and Sheikh Jarrah. Residents come by to learn their rights, get assistance realizing these rights, and for any other legal matters they may be facing. The students also represent clients when cases go to court.

As the Coronavirus spread across Israel, official guidelines were issued on a nearly daily basis – often changing and always written in legalese. Almost immediately, the clinic was inundated with phone calls and emails from its existing clientele. As the questions flooded in, Adv. Amar realized that his clinic was likely a microcosm of the country as a whole.

Inspired by Brazilian educator and philosopher Paulo Freire, Adv. Amar identified the need to transfer information to those who lack access and/or understanding. He decided to launch an online hub where ordinary citizens could receive information in this ever-changing reality. He reached out to six years of clinic volunteers. Within 24 hours, over fifty student and alumni signed up and they’d launched two Facebook pages, one in Hebrew and one in Arabic.

"The online hotline is an opportunity to for us – students, alumni, and friends of the legal clinic – to rise to the hour and offer our assistance to the broadest public possible."

- Eden Levy, student, coordinator of the Arabic-language online hotline

They got to work: translating the regulations and laws into laymen’s terms and answering questions. While the hotline did not provide legal aid per se (rather, referring relevant cases to the clinics), it did take on a number of larger trends that emerged from the complaints: 

  • Reports about supermarkets raising prices. The volunteers compiled a report that was sent to the Minister of the Economy and participated in a Knesset committee meeting on the topic.
  • Long wait times to get through to the National Insurance Institute (Bituach Leumi). The clinic met with the CEO and Knesset Member Aida Touma-Suleiman to discuss this matter.
  • Many applications for various benefits do not exist in Arabic. The clinic appealed, along with a number of other civic organizations, and the CEO of NII promised that everything would be translated into Arabic. Hotline volunteers translated hundreds of applications.
  • Single mothers reporting losing their child support after being furloughed, since it appeared they were no longer employed (a condition for the stipend).
  • People with disabilities reported their aides being fined for being outside, although this was legal. The volunteers appealed all such citations and they were cancelled.
  • Unclear guidelines for divorced parents with joint custody. The clinic asked the police for more detailed guidelines.
  • Clarifying the rights of furloughed employees, helping them realize their rights for unemployment/benefits.

Today, the hotline deals mainly with questions about the updated, loosened regulations, as well as appealing rejected applications for benefits. In addition, many the hotline continues to help people whose stipends have been reduced due to preexisting debts – in a time when money is already scarce.

Combined, the Hebrew and Arabic pages have reached over 15,300 people, and 1,250 questions were answered.

"The hotline’s success demonstrated people’s need for knowledge and the importance of this knowledge for realizing their rights. By providing answers, the online hotline empowered underserved populations across the country, while drawing those with knowledge into this important endeavor."

- Adv. Ohad Amar

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Ravitejas Patil, India, MSc in Plant Science

Ravitejas Patil

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Ravitejas Patil hails from Bangalore, India, which is considered that country’s Silicon Valley. When deciding what to study, he decided against the mechanical and engineering fields, which he had encountered through his father’s work as an engineer. Instead, Ravitejas turned to the natural sciences, earning a bachelor’s degree from the University of Agricultural Sciences, Dharwad. 

In considering his next step, Ravitejas wanted to study abroad in order to broaden his horizons as much as possible. A friend living in Israel recommended the International School of Agricultural Sciences in the Robert H. Smith Faculty of Agriculture, Food and Environment.

"Israel is a great place to study. The country was built and developed by such a small population, there’s nowhere like it in terms of technology and innovations."

Today, Ravitejas is working towards his MSc in Plant Science, studying how plants react to stress, namely drought conditions. His work is comparative; he studies differences between tomato varieties, including the commercially available tomato, a wild, desert variety, and lines bred by Prof. Dani Zamir.  

In particular, Ravitejas studies the plants’ phenotype, meaning their external characteristics. To this end, he uses the high-throughput physiological phenotyping system (patented by his advisor, Prof. Menachem Moshelion, and Prof. Rony Wallach) to carry out his experiments in the greenhouse, while also manually measuring traits such as a leaf’s water potential and osmotic potential. In this way, Ravitejas can understand how much water plants can hold and retain, as part of their response to drought.

Looking forward, Ravitejas would like to earn a PhD and return to India to put his knowledge to use. Many Indian farmers still employ traditional methods, due to an assortment of barriers to mechanization.

"I want to help famers in India maximize their yield. This means developing and implementing ways to get the best possible crop at the lowest possible cost."

The Coronavirus Shut-Down 

When the country went into lock-down mode, only students who were living on campus were able to access the labs and greenhouses. Ravitejas was one of two members of his lab living in campus. As a result, he was kept busy from morning till night, tending to and advancing his colleagues research – in addition to his own research, which had been scheduled to begin in March. Thanks to his immense efforts, his lab-mates were able to pick up their research and continue – as if nothing happened.

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Lightricks Proves the Start-up Nation is not just about Tel Aviv

Lightricks Team

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Hidden away among the converted, old student dorms of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem is a thriving start-up making waves far beyond its modest surroundings.

Founded in January 2013 by four Hebrew University PhD students and a Supreme Court clerk (and Hebrew University alum), Lightricks has built an arsenal of mobile content creation applications that are enjoying global success and proving that the Start-Up Nation is about far more than the shiny high-rises and fancy offices of Tel Aviv's hi-tech community.

Click here to read the article on JPost.

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Revivim: Jewish Educators on Both Sides of the Screen

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In mid-March, the Israeli government decided to shut down schools and hold classes remotely. Around the same time, the Hebrew University announced the spring semester would also be taught online. With almost no warning and even less preparation, teachers and students suddenly had to figure out how to teach/learn remotely, using digital platforms such as Zoom.

The students in the Revivim Honors Teacher-Training Program in Jewish Studies found themselves on both sides of the screen: as students and as teachers.

A Virtual Field Trip

One such student is Naama, a 3rd year student in the Revivim program. Most of her classes are small, with as few as 6 students. As such, discussions play an important part of her studies. These spontaneous interactions are impossible over Zoom. Furthermore, her partner is also a student, and often they’d end up staring at their screens all day long. It got tiring.

Thus, as a teacher, Naama was conscious of what her students were experiencing. The second week of shutdown, the students were supposed to have been on a class trip. Naama decided to take them on a virtual field trip, based on the biblical passages they were studying. Using Google Earth, she mapped a route – starting at school and traveling north to the biblical city of Shomron (Samaria), today a national park. Equipped with hats, water, and snacks – they were off! Naama organized stops along the way, zooming down to ground level, using the 360-degree view, and explaining what students were seeing.

Thanks to Naama’s ingenuity, students experienced a creative and engaging lesson. In subsequent weeks she organized a digital treasure hunt, group discussions, and a writing assignment. Some of these were over Zoom, and some were self-directed study, allowing the kids a break from their screens.

Studying, Teaching, Volunteering

Another example is Lotem, who is in her second year of the program. When everything shut down, she moved back in with her parents in Petah Tikva. She found online learning challenging, since she enjoys sitting in the classroom and interacting with her peers and teachers. There were also more assignments, in an effort to keep students on track. Yet online learning also had its perks.

Lotem volunteered to coordinate the Petah Tikva operations of Lev Ehad, an emergency NGO that mobilized hundreds of volunteers to distribute food, purchase medications, and more. It was demanding, but Lotem could “miss” class and watch the recorded lecture later.

As a teacher, Lotem’s school decided against online classes. Instead, teachers gave weekly assignments and were available to the students for questions and guidance. Lotem teaches Mishna in a special needs class, and she worked closely with the homeroom teacher to ensure that her assignments would be the most effective.

A Biblical Escape Room

Meytal, a Revivim alumna and teacher of 12th grade Bible, turned a problem into an opportunity. Realizing that without face-to-face teaching during the lockdown, her students lacked the impetus to review Biblical texts, she created an online escape room for them to bring the passages to life. In Free David, the students needed to peruse the Book of Samuel in advance in order to help King David run away from his rival and predecessor, King Saul, who was bent on killing him. 

Meytal divided the class into groups. By analyzing the passages correctly, the competitors were able to work through the moral conflicts and practical challenges that characterized this chapter in David's tumultuous life and assist him in escaping from Saul. Meytal reported, “Not only did the students enjoy a chance to interact with one another and relieve the tedium of remote, individual learning but they also studied really hard in preparation for this activity. Everyone wanted to win! Now they empathize with King David and are more committed to reading texts in depth.”

A Breath of Fresh Air

Lastly, the Revivim program itself tried some creative teaching methods. Havi Levine is a pedagogical mentor, working with 3rd year students who are being trained to teach Bible. During ordinary times, one of their spring-time sessions would take place in the University Botanical Garden, for some quiet reflection on their role and strength as educators. After being cooped up indoors for weeks, Havi decided to require the students to spend some time outdoors. The students completed their reflections individually and met to debrief over Zoom.

One student, sitting outside by an olive tree, wrote:

"The olive tree is knotted and gnarly, which is precisely why it is so beautiful. Like the olive tree, I find that I cannot teach in a straightforward fashion; I need to find my own way forward. I hope that these things will make me a better teacher."

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Entering Our Bodies: ACE2 Receptors as Gateway Cells

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The coronavirus is currently understood to enter the human body by interacting with a receptor named ACE2. This receptor is a protein that is displayed on the surface of certain cells in the lungs, nose, and oral cavity, among others. In a sense, the receptor and virus are like a keyhole and key; they must perfectly fit for the virus to enter and infect a person. 

However, which cell types present ACE2 on their surface, and what determines their presence, is unknown. Prevent ACE2 from being displayed, or blocking its interaction with the virus, would likely reduce infection rates and stymie the virus’s ability to infect additional cells in the body. Furthermore, it is possible that the Coronavirus can enter the human body via additional gateway receptors, which could also potentially be targeted for therapy. Such other players are yet to be discovered. 

It is clear that some recovered COVID-19 patients subsequently suffer from a range of illnesses, for example inflammation of the circulatory system in different organs. It is unclear whether the cells of these organs display gateway cells that permit infection by the virus.

Studying Healthy Cell Samples to Learn About Infection 

Hebrew University scientists Dr. Oren Parnas and Dr. Yotam Drier, in collaboration with Hadassah lung surgeon Dr. Ori Wald, hope to provide answers to these questions. To this end, they are collecting cells from the lungs and other organs of non-COVID-19 patients. They are characterizing the exact gene activity profile of each cell and identifying which cell types display active ACE2 receptors. To date, they have profiled thousands of cells and measured the expression of hundreds of thousands of genes. Powerful computational tools are the only possible way to analyze such a vast dataset.

At the same time, the researchers are comparing their findings to existing cell databases to identify cell types with a proclivity towards SARS-Cov-2 infection. Their working hypothesis is that by identifying the type of cell, they will glean clues about the mechanism underlying COVID-19 symptoms. For example, inflammation of the circulatory system could be caused by direct infection of blood vessel cells.

"It may become possible to understand and treat the disease’s symptoms by understanding how it spreads in the human body – on a cellular level. This type of detective work can really allow us to trace the virus’s advancement within the body."

          Dr. Oren Parnas

Looking Ahead: Uncovering a Gene Regulatory Network through Computer Analysis

Within our bodies, molecular networks regulate our genes, affecting when each gene is turned on and off. To fully understand how these networks are organized and how they work, Dr. Parnas and Dr. Drier will disrupt each of the known human genes in cells, one gene at a time, and then measure whether these perturbations change the cell’s ability to become infected with SARS-CoV-2. 

It is possible that an eventual drug will target the regulatory mechanisms that enable infection, rather than combatting the virus at the site of infection. By creating a computational network of the genes’ regulatory mechanisms, scientists will be able to better understand – and disrupt – the chain of events that makes cells susceptible to infection. 

The next step will be to translate these computational findings into lab experiments, in order to verify findings and determine the best course of treatment for patients.

"The impact of this groundbreaking work isn't limited to the current SARS-CoV-2 pandemic but will open the door to an entirely new understanding of how molecular networks affect disease and treatment - enabling us to treat numerous diseases more effectively."

          Dr. Yotam Drier

Photo credit: "Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2" by NIAID. Accessed on Flickr, used under a CC BY 2.0 license. The image has been cropped.

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Revolutionizing Cancer Treatment

Benzion Amoyav

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Benzion Amoyav was always drawn to science. As a high school student, he studied both chemistry and biology, and was looking forward to continuing studying science at the university level. But at the same time, he also wanted his studies to benefit society. He decided to study pharmacy, which perfectly blended his two passions. 

During his undergraduate studies, Benzion conducted research in Prof. Ofra Benny’s laboratory, focused on developing a system that produces highly tunable micro- and nanoparticles for treating tumors. These “smart” particles primarily attack the tumor and release drugs in a controlled manner, resulting in better patient outcomes and less negative side effects.

After graduating, Benzion completed his internship at Hadassah, received his pharmacy license, and returned to Prof. Benny’s lab to continue with his research, eventually earning a master’s degree.

Today, as a doctoral student, Benzion is researching liver cancer and embolization (blocking solid tumors’ blood supply), a common, yet limited-efficacy, clinical practice for treating various types of tumors. He is taking a radically different approach by countering the microenvironmental conditions that are favorable to tumors. His main effort is to develop a drug-delivery device for focused therapy in combination with embolization.

By releasing the drug in a targeted fashion in close proximity to the tumor, Benzion’s research will enable doctors to reduce side effects, increase efficiency, and improve clinical outcomes.

"I believe that research education is the key for innovation and improvement, because laboratory-based discoveries can help large numbers of people. I am grateful for having the opportunity to impact other people’s lives.

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Daniella, Biochemistry and Food Science Student

Daniella T

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Daniella grew up in the ultra-Orthodox city of Bnei Brak. Neither of her parents ever obtained a higher education, and the surrounding community was also largely impoverished and uneducated.

"Because neither of my parents were educated, I had a strong urge to earn a degree as soon as I could – I didn’t want to postpone my studies a single day."

She attended an ultra-Orthodox elementary school where most of her peers ended up studying at seminaries, without completing the matriculation exams. Yet Daniella decided to transfer to the best high school in town, where the curriculum included a year of biology and a year of chemistry. Daniella wanted to major in Chemistry, but no such option existed. After earning a complete matriculation certificate, Daniella decided to apply to the Hebrew University. 

Daniella is now in her second semester at the Robert H. Smith Faculty of Agriculture, Food and Environment – studying Biochemistry and Food Science. While she no longer identifies as ultra-Orthodox, she chooses which religious practices to maintain and feels connected to Jewish traditions.

Besides the financial support that makes her studies possible, Daniella receives academic assistance from two invaluable sources. First, as a graduate of ultra-Orthodox schools, Daniella is eligible for tutoring. Second, she receives help from the Center for Students with Learning Disabilities.

"I couldn’t have picked a better place to study than the Smith Faculty. If I’m having a hard time, there’s always someone willing to listen and help – whether Shirli from the Center for Students with Learning Disabilities, or the coordinator for ultra-Orthodox graduates. Everywhere I go, people are helpful and nice."

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Schulich Leaders Enjoy Round Table with HU President Asher Cohen

Schulich Students with Pres. Asher Cohen

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Students excelling in STEM felds who are part of the Schulich Leader Scholarship Program were celebrated this week in an event with Hebrew Univerity President Prof. Asher Cohen.

The event was kicked off by Ram Semo, Director of the Division for Advancement and External Relations who welcomed the University's elite Schulich Leaders.

Limor Shiffman, Vice Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences and Professor in the Department of Communications at the University, then presented a fascinating talk for the Leaders on the topic of internet memes, and how internet trends can be studied scientifically to better understand evolving trends in society.

Prof. Shiffman's engaging lecture was followed by introductions by Schulich students, a talk by Prof. Cohen and Uri Karmi VP, Director of Israeli Operations for the Schulich Foundation.

“These programs are very important to us, said Prof. Cohen. “I wouldn't miss this opportunity to welcome you to the University. Schulich Leaders will greatly contribute to society. It's wonderful seeing this group of students doing amazing things, and I know you will look back on these as great years." Following Prof. Cohen's remarks the students were encouraged to engage in a lively discussion with the Hebrew University President, asking him topical questions in a round table format. 

Launched in 2012, the Schulich Leader Scholarships program funds 50 undergraduate scholarships each year across top Canadian universities, with an additional 50 scholarships awarded annually in Israel alone. The scholarship is intended for entrepreneurial-minded students beginning their undergraduate studies, who are interested in becoming part of the future leadership of Israel. The scholarships are valued at 40,000 NIS per year and this year 10 of the prestigious scholarships were awarded to students at the Hebrew University. Since its inception there have been a total of 48 Schulich Leaders at the Hebrew University.

Scholarship recipients are fully funded through their undergraduate university educations, better enabling them to pursue their dreams to become the next global leaders in STEM fields: science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

"I'm very, very lucky to be one of the Schulich Leaders," says Noa Hazoni, a second-year student studying Physics and Biology at the University. “I come from a religious family, with nine children. After serving as a combat officer in the army I married a lone solder; we have been married two years now. We are completely supporting ourselves and without the scholarship I wouldn't be able to study at the University. My life would be totally different without the scholarship."

Tzvi Michelson, a first-year student at the University studying Computer Science and Psychology, agrees. “To study without working is a huge burden lifted," he says. “And in addition to the financial benefits, he continues, it creates a platform for us through organized and informal events, meetings, and discussions, Schulich Leaders network and propel each other forward academically and professionally, hopefully for many years to come."

Founding philanthropist Seymour Schulich created the program to support exceptional young minds that demonstrate great leadership and embrace STEM fields, with the goal of creating the next generation of technology innovators. Schulich Leader Scholarships represents Schulich's 11th “Mega Gift", and largest single benefaction to date in terms of monetary value and international scope. 

This program is funded by The Schulich Foundation and Co-Administered by UJA Federation of Greater Toronto. Scholarships are offered between June 15th - August 15th each year. Applications are now available for the upcoming academic year, please visit the Schulich Leader Scholarship website for more information.

     

     

Photos by Bruno Charbit.

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Taking Lethal Inflammatory Storms – By Storm

Raymond Kaempfer

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For the last three decades, Professor Raymond Kaempfer has been tackling one of medicine’s largest problems: evolving antibiotic resistance and lethality of many bacteria, including Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus pneumoniae.  

The mechanism by which these bacteria kill is quite straightforward: they produce toxins that our immune system would ordinarily identify, target, and neutralize. Yet these particular toxins, called superantigens, evoke our immune system to vastly over-react, resulting in severe, and often lethal, inflammation known as a cytokine storm. The potential of these toxins for ruin is compounded by the fact that they can remain active for years and are heat resistant, rendering them suitable as biological weapons. Indeed, it was the Pentagon that first approached Prof. Kaempfer, asking him to develop an antidote to this feared biological threat. 

Eureka! Deciphering the Mechanism of Cytokine Storms 

While progress had been made in the late 20th century, Prof. Kaempfer was the first to fully decipher how these toxins evoke cytokine storms, which he published in 2011 – the greatest breakthrough in this field in 22 years. Based on this novel insight, he developed unique, small protein molecules capable of attenuating excessive inflammation, and not only in infected animals (his molecules combat infections by lethal mixtures of live bacteria in mice) but especially in severe sepsis patients, specifically, those suffering from necrotizing soft tissue infection, commonly called “flesh-eating bacteria.” Rather than fighting the bacteria or toxins, Prof. Kaempfer treats the body’s self-induced inflammation, in an approach known as a Host Oriented Therapeutic strategy. Because the human immune system will not change over a single lifetime, nor over the course of a few generations, pathogens cannot become resistant through mutation. This is a major advantage over antibiotics. 

A New Drug is Born? 

Prof. Kaempfer’s first-generation molecule successfully underwent all three phases of FDA clinical trials. This month, he will be submitting his FDA application for a new drug for treating flesh-eating bacteria, the first of its kind. His second-generation molecules are proving to be up to 300 times more potent in treating wound infections in animals. Indeed, per the Pentagon’s request, Prof. Kaempfer is now testing his molecules upon wounds infected by antibiotic-resistant bacteria. 

Not only did Prof. Kaempfer succeed at deciphering a mechanism that had stumped scientists for decades, but his molecules are noteworthy for another reason: they counter the body’s excessive, harmful immune reaction while leaving the basal response intact, enabling the body to continue fighting infections on its own and developing protective immunity. 

A Call from Pandemic-Stricken New York  

In February, Prof. Kaempfer received a phone call from a large New York hospital, asking for his molecules in order to treat severely ill COVID-19 patients suffering from pulmonary cytokine storms, which closely resemble those resulting from superantigen toxins or bacteria. Yet he couldn’t just go to the post office and send a package of un-approved molecules.

With no end to the pandemic in sight, Prof. Kaempfer is hopeful that his FDA application will soon be successful. Although his application specifies the first molecule be used to combat necrotizing soft tissue infection, once approved it can be used in controlled trials on COVID-19 patients. This is especially pertinent, as many COVID-19 fatalities are due to cytokine storm. In addition, recovered patients often continue to suffer from varying degrees of multi-organ failure, also due to Coronavirus-induced inflammation.    

Throughout the pandemic, Prof. Kaempfer’s lab has been running non-stop, including during the countrywide lockdown and holidays, testing his molecules against viral and cellular components, released once the coronavirus kills infected cells, that over-activate human immune cells and evoke a cytokine storm. His entire career has prepared him for this moment: his groundbreaking research has the potential to save millions of lives worldwide, and he cannot afford to take a single day – or minute – off.

"My lab has been very lucky – if you define luck as the result of decades of hard work. One of my passions is ’survival science’ – applying my scientific knowledge, encompassing chemistry and microbiology, to creating a better world."

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CLEC's Eight Clinics

CLEC Logo

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CLEC's Eight Clinics:

 

  1. Representation of Marginalized Populations Clinic (20 students annually)

  2. Rights of Youth at Risk Clinic (20 students annually)

  3. International Human Rights Clinic (15 students annually)

  4. Innocence Project Clinic (10-12 students annually)

  5. Criminal Justice Clinic (10 students annually)

  6. Economic Development of Women Clinic (15 students annually)

  7. Rights of People with Disabilities Clinic (15 students annually)

  8. Multiculturalism and Diversity Clinic (18 students annually)

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Hebrew University Professors Win the Rothschild Prize

Bioinformatics lab

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We extend warm congratulations to Professors Hanah Margalit and Guy Stroumsa for winning the prestigious 2020 Rothschild Prize.

The Rothschild Prize is awarded once every two years (in Sciences) and once every four years (in Humanities and Social Sciences), and is considered one of the top three prestigious prizes that is awarded to academic researchers in Israel.

Hanah Margalit, from the Faculty of Medicine, is this year’s awardee in Life Sciences. Prof. Margalit is a world-leading researcher in the field of bioinformatics and her research combines bioinformatics, computational Biology and biological systems.

Guy Stroumsa,from the Faculty of Humanities, is this year’s awardee in Humanities. Prof.Stroumsa conducts his research on the dynamic meeting of religions during the Roman Empire and the Ancient Era. His world-renowned expertise is in the study of Ancient Christianity and the influence of Judaism on the development of new religions, including Christianity and Islam.

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Evaluating Public Spaces for Community Use

Gali Sheskin

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"For me, life is not about how you occupy your day but where you spend it. I see my mission as working to improve people’s immediate surroundings and thus enhancing their quality of life."

Gali Sheskin’s bachelor’s degree is in sociology, anthropology, and art history from the Hebrew University. While she greatly enjoyed her studies, she wanted to influence people’s experiences in the real world. As she began her master’s degree in geography and urban and regional planning at the University, Gali realized the Urban Clinic was the obvious address for her. She enrolled in the Clinic's elective course, excited to learn about planning, urban renewal, and to work with various stakeholders to foster dialogue in this field.

"It was important for me to contribute to society, in particular in neighborhoods that suffer from poor services or inter-community tensions. Through the Urban Clinic's highly professional staff, I have gained the academic training and practical tools to be able to listen to the residents’ concerns, understand the issues, and work with professionals and locals to bring about change. Especially in underserved neighborhoods."

 

 

Every student at the Urban Clinic must conduct a field project, and Gali decided to carry out hers in Jaffa, where she had recently moved. Though the city is blessed with a rich history, a beautiful seafront, and tourism, it grapples in part with a multi-racial population not at ease with one another's culture, needs, and sensitivities. One site where inter-group tensions played out was the community center in one of Jaffa's most underprivileged neighborhoods. While the center's mission is to host cultural, educational, and social events for all, in practice, each segment of the population regarded it as “the other groups’ turf.”

 

 

 

The community center in Jaffa (photo by Racheli Malki)

Rather than embracing diversity, differences had turned into spatial boundaries, not to be crossed. The center’s director had approached the Urban Clinic for advice before the Coronavirus pandemic, and as the country gradually emerged from lockdown, Gali Sheskin became involved.

Gali’s worked to identify outdoor spaces that could host communal activities in the era of social distancing. But before ‘hitting the ground,' she conducted research, reviewing international literature on how communities share public spaces when resources are limited – not just in times of crisis – and also contemporary articles on post-lockdown public activities to see how other places were moving forward creatively. Next, Gali mapped and rated 15 public spaces based on her own set of parameters, including safety aspects, current usage, potential public nuisance, adjacent buildings, accessibility, and social features. She also spoke to a range of people from the Jaffa community itself – residents, an urban-planner, activists, and a social worker – to hear their feedback, experiences, and suggestions.

"The Urban Clinic allowed me to channel my energies into improving people’s relationship with their neighborhood and having an impact on their wellbeing. I really believe in learning from people in the field: if you want to plan spaces that will serve people, you have to speak to the people themselves."

Finally, Gali presented her findings, setting out her photographs, a map, and her grading of each of the 15 sites’ suitability. Out of these, Gali recommended seven. She also proposed specific activities for each location – such as board games, story-time, a movie screening, a community garden, and a women’s running group – along with a list of the requisite equipment or accessories. The center’s leadership was extremely impressed with the breadth and depth of Gali’s work and is planning to involve local residents in implementing her suggestions in the near future. The hope is that, looking forward, this process will encourage greater participation and inter-community harmony.

"The Tel Aviv-Jaffa municipality is now considering expansion and adaptation of this Jaffa project to other parts of the city too. And the Hebrew University is conducting a scientific evaluation of the project’s impact. Through our paradigm of nurturing urban leadership and local knowledge for just and inclusive cities, we are able to find meeting-grounds, literally and figuratively, for diverse groups within the same neighborhood."

-     Dr. Emily Silverman, Founding Director of the Urban Clinic
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Meet Arielle Hochberg, Bio-Medical Sciences Student

Arielle Hochberg

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Arielle Hochberg was born in New Zealand and grew up in Australia. Her family maintained strong ties to Israel. During her undergraduate studies at the University of Sydney, Arielle received a scholarship that enabled her to spend a semester at the Rothberg International School at the Hebrew University. It was there she discovered the research internship program and met Prof. Tal Burstyn-Cohen. As a student of neuroscience, Arielle was welcomed into Prof. Burstyn-Cohen’s lab, studying the development of immune cells in the brain. At the end of the semester, Prof. Burstyn-Cohen invited Arielle to return after completing her BSc.

In 2018  Arielle began studying in the Hebrew University’s International Graduate Bio-Medical Sciences Program. She has been investigating the role of Protein S in microglia (immune cells of the brain) following traumatic brain injury. While conducting her research, she has taken full advantage of the university’s resources and facilities, as well as collaborated with other labs.

"I achieved much more than I thought possible. My understanding of science and research techniques has expanded substantially and I have developed the ability to work independently and in groups, design experiments, generate ideas, teach others and most of all I feel like I am making a contribution to the scientific world."

One of Arielle’s favorite aspects of the lab are the weekly meetings. These are an open forum to share findings, suggest ideas, and brainstorm together. Arielle feels these meetings are “a great initiative to develop critical thinking and problem solving.” In addition, she found her classes to be a refreshing break from the lab. Every week, Arielle and her fellow students broaden their knowledge in classes ranging from biofilms, chromosomes, methods of anthropometry, osteology, and more.

Arielle is proud to have presented at two conferences, one in Eilat and one in Germany.  She also mentored Israeli high school students in the Alpha program. On top of this, she has greatly enjoyed living in Israel and being part of the local culture: festivals, cuisine, and social events with her lab mates.

Looking forward, Arielle hopes to pursue another degree, either a PhD or a MD-PhD. In the meanwhile, she will return home to work on a neuroscience clinical trial.

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Understanding How Human Cells Work – By Studying Animal Evolution

Mice Image
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What can we learn by comparing our genes to those of a giant squid, a frog, or a blind mole? Turns out, a lot. Especially if you throw in 1,600 other species whose full genomes have been decoded in recent years. This is the specialty of Dr. Yuval Tabach at the Hebrew University’s Faculty of Medicine – taking apart the genes of thousands of animals, comparing them to one another, and extracting important conclusions about what human genes do, how they influence cancer and other diseases, and how they can be targeted by drugs.

Thanks to exponential developments in genomics, Dr. Tabach now has access to the genomes of 1,600+ species. This is Big Data: the ability to compare millions of genes, representing hundreds of millions of years of evolution. (For comparison, Dr. Tabach’s first paper, published in 2013, was based on 87 species, and in 2019 he had access to 600 species). 

Mining such vast amounts of data to benefit humans is far from simple. Dr. Tabach’s lab develops artificial intelligence algorithms that can search and compare these genomes for evolutionary patterns – identifying distinct networks of genes that execute a particular function. 

Co-Evolving Genes: An Indicator of Mutual Reliance (and Significance) 

How is this done? A guiding principle is that if two genes co-evolve closely together across many species, they are likely to play a similar role and even work together. Co-evolution means that these genes are always found together within a given species, and both absent in other species. In other words, if two genes have evolved together and changed at a similar rate across species, they may rely on each other to execute their tasks.

For example, Dr. Tabach’s algorithms can identify the genes that enable most animals (but not humans) to biosynthesize vitamin C or the genes involved in eyesight. His computational tools can highlight entire gene networks, including genes that might not have been thought to play a role in a given function.

Using his powerful methods, Dr. Tabach recently discovered new functions of genes involved in human breast cancer. By tracking the co-evolution of genes associated with DNA repair (genes that maintain the integrity of our genome) he discovered new genes involved in this important function. When these “repair” genes mutate in cancer, this contributes to the disease. 

Nature’s Superpowers 

Another passion of Dr. Tabach’s is studying nature’s “superpowers”: outliers in the animal kingdom. In particular, he is interested in animals that do not develop cancer and whose aging is slow – including elephants, whales, and naked mole rats. Often these are larger animals, with significantly more cells than humans, and thus have a higher potential for incurring mutations. And yet, these animals have substantially less cancer than other creatures, including humans.

"My team has identified 101 such genes that may play a role in these species’ resistance to cancer. Laboratory tests have shown that one of these genes was capable of reducing cancer potential by 10-20% in human cells, through improving the mechanism of repairing damaged DNA. It is easy to imagine the exciting, vast potential of the other 100 genes, which can be translated into dozens of new anti-cancer mechanisms."

Will We Grow Tusks?

If we begin replacing our genes with elephant DNA, will we become elephants? No. The genetic signatures and genes identified by Dr. Tabach are associated with cancer resistance and can increase life expectancy across species. Having survived millions of years of evolution, these universal, anti-cancer mechanisms may play an extremely valuable role without being highly specific to one organism or another. 

What’s Next?

Computational tools are predictive: they can scan and process large amounts of data and identify patterns. However, the findings and predictions must be tested through laboratory work – first with human cells and tissues, then with live animals. One of Dr. Tabach’s goals is to genetically engineer a cancer-resistant and potentially long-lived mouse. Another direction he is actively pursuing is the development of medications that mimic or replace genes. These may serve as preventative or curative measures.

Dr. Tabach’s work is both broad and specific – and offers hope of a healthier future for people worldwide.

"It is really exciting for us to look back through hundreds of millions of years of genetic evolution, and extract information that can impact human health in the present."

To read about Dr. Tabach’s Coronavirus research, click here.

Photo credit: "Mouse ENCODE" by Darryl Leja, NHGRI. Accessed on Flickr, used under a CC BY 2.0 license. The image has been cropped

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Graduate Programs in Social Sciences

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Scholarships for the Advanced Graduate Studies Program

The Advanced Graduate Studies Program (AGSP) maintains the highest standard of education in the Social Sciences while significantly cutting the length of graduate studies—thus lowering dropout rates and keeping Israel's best and brightest at home.

Due to shorter, more concentrated and better funded graduate programs abroad, many of Israel’s top students are leaving Israel to complete PhD programs in North America or Europe. The Advanced Graduate Studies Program (AGSP) works to minimize the effect of “brain drain” on Israeli society by creating a comprehensive program that mimics the concentrated model of foreign institutions while retaining the extended one-on-one mentorship between student and adviser that characterizes Israeli doctoral studies.

The AGSP condenses the entire graduate process into a cohesive, full-time five-year program and expects the students to fully throw themselves into their research and teaching duties in order to succeed. Due to the intense nature of the program, students are not able to work outside of the confines of their studies and so AGSP is seeking scholarship support for its students that will provide them with essential financial support and long term stability.

Six years ago, the Hebrew University successfully launched a pilot in Advanced Graduate Studies in the Department of Political Science. We are now seeking to expand the program throughout the Faculty of Social Sciences, the top faculty of its type in Israel.

Following the initial success of the pilot program, the model has been replicated in the Departments of Economics and Psychology and it is now being opened and seeking student funding in the following fields:

  • Geography, Environment & Geoinformatics
  • Communication & Journalism
  • Statistics & Data Science
  • Public Policy
  • Sociology

 

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News

Winner Shot

Kinoko Tech Wins Hebrew University’s 2022 Asper Prize for Emerging Startups

15 June, 2022

Kinoko Tech, founded by scientists Drs. Dalia Feldman, Jasmin Ravid and Hadar Shohat, is the 2022 winner of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (HU)’s Asper Prize for Emerging Startups.  The 100,000 NIS cash prize was awarded by ASPER-HUJI Innovate - The Innovation Center of the Hebrew University, a Center created to nurture an entrepreneurial spirit amongst students, researchers, and alumni at Hebrew University.

Tarantino

Trailblazing Filmmaker Tarantino Joins 19 Distinguished Leaders from Diverse Fields to Receive Honorary Degree from Hebrew University

13 June, 2022

Filmmaker Quentin Tarantino received an honorary degree--“Doctor Philosophiae Honoris Causa”--from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (HU) at a festive ceremony during the 85th Board of Governors (BOG) meeting.

Winners

The 2022 Hebrew University Dan Maydan Prize for Nanoscience Goes to MIT Prof. Pablo Jarillo-Herrero

25 May, 2022

MIT physics Professor Pablo Jarillo-Herrero has won the 2022 Dan Maydan Prize for Nanoscience Research for his pioneering work on two-dimensional nanomaterials.  The Dan Maydan Prize was established by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (HU) in 2018, with the generous contribution of Dr. Maydan, who played a central role in establishing the Israeli National Nanotechnology Initiative (INNI).  The INNI helped position Israel as a leader in nanotech and led to the opening of 10 nanotech centers in the country, including HU’s Center for Nanoscience and Nanotechnology.

Tamir Sheafer

Hebrew University Appoints New Rector—Professor Tamir Sheafer

23 May, 2022

Sheafer Replaces Prof. Barak Medina, HU Rector Since 2017

Professor Tamir Sheafer was chosen by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (HU)’s Senate as the university’s new rector.  For the last six years, Sheafer has served as Dean of HU’s Faculty of Social Sciences.  His field of expertise is digital and comparative communications.  Over the past two decades, Sheafer has led several international research groups to study the impact of political systems and the strength of a democracy on that country’s political processes and communications.

Masada Image

Where were Herod the Great's Royal Alabaster Bathtubs Quarried?

17 May, 2022

From the Middle Bronze Age, Egypt played a crucial role in the appearance of calcite-alabaster artifacts in Israel, and the development of the local gypsum-alabaster industry. The absence of ancient calcite-alabaster quarries in the Southern Levant (modern day Israel and Palestine) led to the assumption that all calcite-alabaster vessels found in the Levant originated from Egypt, while poorer quality vessels made of gypsum were local products.

Yaniv Elkouby

Hebrew U. Study of Zebrafish Ovaries Discovers New Structure Vital for Normal Egg Development

12 May, 2022

It is humbling to realize that we human share about 70% of our genes with zebrafish. There are also a whole host of other similarities that make these small transparent fish an ideal animal model for the study of many human diseases and biological processes.  In the lab of Dr. Yaniv Elkouby at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (HU)’s Faculty of Medicine, the focus is on the development of the immature egg cells (oocytes) of zebrafish.

Ecuador President & Asher Cohen

Ecuadoran President Guillermo Lasso visits Hebrew University

12 May, 2022

Ecuadoran President Guillermo Lasso became the 1st sitting president of his country to visit Israel.  He arrived with a 100-member delegation that will remain in country for two weeks to visit Israeli universities and innovative projects.

Today at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Lasso and his wife First Lady Maria de Lourdes Alcivar, inaugurated Ecuador’s Office for Technology and Innovation and held a business conference called “Ecuador Open for Business” to develop investments and public-private partnerships with key players in Israel’s ecosystem. 

Anastasiia Zinevych

Following Hebrew University's Emergency Aid for Ukrainian Academic Staff & Students: 10 Refugees Arrive on Campus

13 April, 2022

Considering the threat on the lives of academics and university students in Ukraine, and in a show of solidarity, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (HU) has offered academic hosting for Ukrainian academic staff and students.  To date, 18 such refugees have been accepted to continue their studies at the University and 10 have already arrived at our Jerusalem and Rehovot campuses. 

Edge Magnetism Illustration

Working with the Tiniest Magnets, Hebrew U. Discovers New Magnetic Phenomenon with Industrial Potential

12 April, 2022

Probing the world of the very, very small is a wonderland for physicists.  At this nano-scale, where materials as thin as 100 atoms are studied, totally new and unexpected phenomena are discovered.  Here, nature ceases to behave in a way that is predictable by the macroscopic law of physics, unlike what goes on in the world around us or out in the cosmos.

Haitham Amal & Moran Yassour

Hebrew University Drs. Moran Yassour & Haitham Amal Awarded 2022 Krill Prize for Excellence in Scientific Research

6 April, 2022

Dr. Moran Yassour at Hebrew University of Jerusalem (HU)’s Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, and Dr. Haitham Amal, at HU’s Institute for Drug Research and the School of Pharmacy, have been awarded the prestigious Krill Prize for Excellence in Scientific Research, which is administered by the Wolf Foundation. The Krill Prize is awarded each year to 10 outstanding young researchers who have not yet been granted tenure. Winners are chosen based on standards of excellence and on the subject of their research.

Cats

Hebrew University Veterinary School Concludes 12-Year Study of Street Cats, Reveals How to Successfully Control Population Numbers

6 April, 2022

Increasing numbers of free-roaming street cats is a global problem.  In fact, stray cats are considered one of the world’s most invasive species.  However, while they pose a health risk to humans, destroy large numbers of wildlife and suffer from poor welfare, most people are reluctant to cull their numbers with the fierceness we bring to rat and cockroach populations.

Ceremony

Senior Moroccan Academic Delegation Visits Hebrew University

31 March, 2022

Israel’s academic cooperation with Morocco hit a high point this week with the visit of a senior delegation from Morocco’s Mohammed VI Polytechnic University (UM6P) to the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (HUJI).

Seeking to establish a medical school and school of pharmacy, the UM6P representatives met with Professor Dina Ben Yehuda, Dean of the Hebrew University-Hadassah Medical School, to learn how HUJI prepares its future doctors for a medical career based on computational medicine and AI, while maintaining humanity and compassion for their patients.

Moshe Shenfeld

Hebrew University Student Wins Prestigious Apple AI Fellowship

17 March, 2022

Israelis Nab 2 Out of 15 Spots Worldwide

Moshe Shenfeld, a computer science PhD candidate at Hebrew University of Jerusalem (HU)’s Rachel and Selim Benin School of Engineering and Computer Science has been selected as an Apple Scholar in AI/Machine Learning for 2022.  Shenfeld is one of only 15 awardees worldwide, the other Israeli recipient is from Tel Aviv University.  The PhD fellowship in Machine Learning and AI was created by Apple “to celebrate the contributions of students pursuing cutting-edge fundamental and applied machine learning research worldwide”.

Prof. Kultstein

Extending Fertility & Reversing Aging in Human Egg Cells

8 March, 2022

"Within a decade, we hope to increase fertility among older women using anti-viral drugs"—Hebrew University’s Dr. Michael Klutstein.

Throughout much of the world, increasing numbers of women are delaying having their first child until they are in their late thirties, and even into their forties.  At this age, their eggs are rapidly deteriorating and, even with IVF, their prospects of conception are far from guaranteed.

Flag Photo

Hebrew University Offers Emergency Aid to Students & Professors from Ukraine

7 March, 2022

Plus Teaching Posts, Stipends and Studies for Fleeing Ukrainian Academics and University Students

In a show of solidarity with the Ukrainian people, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (HU) and HU Student Union hoisted the Ukrainian flag on its campus on Mt. Scopus.  The University and its students seek to send a message of support and encouragement to Ukraine, which is now suffering the second week of a brutal invasion by the Russian military.

German Photo

German Chancellor Scholz's First Visit to Israel

2 March, 2022

New Hebrew U. Survey Probes German and Israelis Perceptions of One Another, Shows Bilateral Support for Germany as Middle-East Mediator

The visit to Israel on March 2nd of Germany's newly-elected Chancellor, Olaf Scholz, heralds a new era in German-Israel ties.  On the heels of this visit, it is timely to announce the findings of a recent survey conducted in Israel and Germany by The Hebrew University of Jerusalem (HU)'s European Forum, which reveals a complex picture regarding Israeli perceptions of Germany, as well as German perceptions of Israel. 

Ficus Photo

Hebrew U. Team Finds How Plants Make Aerial Roots

3 March, 2022

Sometimes, to see the roots, you have to look up.

Roots are normally associated with things that live underground, in the damp and the dark. Think of turnips, radishes and yams. However, many plants make their roots above ground.  Ivy uses its roots to climb on buildings and the mighty ficus tree uses them to support their large branches.  What makes plants form roots in the “wrong place,” so to speak? That would be like us humans sprouting legs from our shoulders.

Photo of Visit

Microsoft R&D Visits Hebrew University

21 February, 2022

Michal Braverman-Blumenstyk, General Manager of Microsoft Israel Research and Development Center, along with company management visited the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (HU)’s Selim and Rachel Benin Department of Computer Science and Engineering yesterday, Israel’s leading computer science department.

The visit took place as part of Microsoft’s plans to establish an R&D center in Jerusalem.  While there, they met with HU President Prof. Asher Cohen, Rector Prof.  Barak Medina, and CEO and VP Yishai Fraenkel.

Photo of Visit

Microsoft R&D Visits Hebrew University

21 February, 2022

Michal Braverman-Blumenstyk, General Manager of Microsoft Israel Research and Development Center, along with company management visited the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (HU)’s Selim and Rachel Benin Department of Computer Science and Engineering yesterday, Israel’s leading computer science department.

The visit took place as part of Microsoft’s plans to establish an R&D center in Jerusalem.  While there, they met with HU President Prof. Asher Cohen, Rector Prof.  Barak Medina, and CEO and VP Yishai Fraenkel.

Bird Photo

Big-Data Tracking Technologies can Uncover Wildlife Secrets & Reduce their Conflicts with Humans, International Team Led by HU Shows

17 February, 2022

Movement is ubiquitous across the natural world. All organisms move, actively or passively, regularly or during specific life stages, to meet energy, survival, reproductive and social demands.  Movement affects a variety of ecological processes and the ability of individuals to cope with human-induced, rapid environmental changes.

Cigarettes, Illustration

Working on the Covid-19 Frontline Negatively Impacts Public Health at All Levels

1 February, 2022

Stress and Smoking Rates Up Among All Hospital Workers, New Hebrew U. Study Finds

A new study, published in the leading journal Nicotine and Tobacco Research’s special issue devoted to smoking and COVID-19, found that being on the COVID-19 frontlines could negatively impact hospital workers’ mental health—even during lull periods and even for ancillary hospital staff, such as maintenance workers and administrative staff.  

Hebrew University

University of Illinois System and Hebrew University Launch Second Round of Joint R&D Teams

23 December, 2021

$200,000 in Grants Awarded to Innovative Medical, Agricultural Research 

The Hebrew University of Jerusalem (HU) and The University of Illinois (U of I) System awarded $200,000 to four new interdisciplinary research teams to drive innovations and advance collaboration between the universities.  It is the second round of a seed-grant program that began in 2019.

Ilana Fox Fisher

New Liquid Biopsy Detects Local Immune Activity

15 December, 2021

Blood Test Developed at Hebrew U. Detects Immune and Inflammatory Activity in Tissues, Removing Need for Painful Biopsies and Expensive Imaging

Our immune systems work hard to keep us healthy and to protect us against bacteria, viruses, fungi, parasites and cancerous cells.  When our Immune systems are weakened, we’re at risk for illnesses and dangerous infections; when they’re overactive, we’re at risk for inflammation and autoimmune diseases.  Therefore, accurate monitoring of our immune systems’ activity is vital to our health.  

Bacteria

Newly-Identified State in Bacteria Has Major Implications for Antibiotic Treatment and Resistant Strains

17 November, 2021

For almost two years, newsfeeds have kept us updated on the daily battle to annihilate the coronavirus.  So, it’ s easy to forget that there are also many types of bacteria threatening human health – our survival depends on the constant quest for new antibiotics that can destroy them.  Recent research provides an important insight into the complex response of bacteria to antibiotics and opens up the possibility of developing a novel and more effective class of drugs to combat major bacterial diseases.

Lachish The Assyrian Ramp

Siege Ramps and Breached Walls: Ancient Warfare and the Assyrian Conquest of Lachish

9 November, 2021

Back in the day, the Assyrians were one of the Near East’s superpowers, controlling a land mass that stretched from Iran to Egypt. They accomplished this feat with military technologies that helped them win any open-air battle or penetrate any fortified city.  While today, air power and bunker busters help win the war, back in the ninth to the seventh centuries BCE, it was all about the siege ramp, an elevated structure that hauled battering ramps up to the enemy’s city walls and let the Neo-Assyrians soldiers wreak havoc on their enemies.

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