Approximately 1,000 outstanding female high-school students from all over Israel participated in TechWomen2021, an event to encourage them to continue and invest in their studies in math and science. The event, now in its seventh year, took place online and was broadcast from the Technion’s studio to dozens of classrooms across the country.

TechWomen events are held thanks to the generous support of the Rosalyn August Girls Empowerment Mission (GEM). August, who visited the Technion for the 2018 TechWomen event, believes in the importance of encouraging young women to choose science-engineering tracks. She addressed the students from her home in Florida (USA) and told them how she grew up in an environment that emphasized everything that girls, and women can’t do – business, for example. She was born in Virginia to a family of Jewish immigrants and wanted to run the family business, but her father told her that business was not suitable for women. Despite this, she went on study business and turned the family business into an empire. “I want you to know that you can do whatever it is you decide you want to do. I believe in you, ” she told the students. “That’s why I put my money up to sponsor a program to bring you to the Technion … and to go on into this world and do the amazing things that are being done at the Technion … the Technion is special. I believe in you. I’ve got your back … you will probably fall in love with the Technion just like I have.

“Tech Women” Webinar 2021

Prof. Ayelet Fishman, Dean of Students at the Technion, addressed the students and told them, “I came to the Technion to take a combination of chemistry, biology, and engineering – a combination that I found in the Faculty of Biotechnology and Food Engineering. After my bachelor’s and master’s degrees, I went into industry, but I realized I would need a Ph.D. to progress – and I’ve been here ever since. I’m researching a variety of topics such as plant protein substitutes, cultured meat, biofuel production, and the development of a new Alzheimer’s drug. Today, 44% of the students at the Technion are female, and by the time you join us, we will be approaching 50%.”

The event was hosted by astrophysicist Dr. Efrat Sabach, who completed three degrees in the Technion Faculty of Physics. “As a child, I always asked questions about the world around me, and my father, who is neither a scientist nor an engineer, showed a lot of patience for these questions, ” she said. “Today, I know that studying at the Technion gives us the basis that allows us to do whatever we want. So even if you are not sure what you will do when you are older, the Technion is a great place to start. ”

Dr. Oksana Stalnov, a member of the Faculty of Aerospace Engineering, introduced the students to her unique lab. She told them about her research career in a field called aeroacoustics – the formation of sound waves as a result of interaction of flows with dynamic structures. After many years of study, as well as time spent as a research fellow at the University of Southampton, she decided to return to Israel, “and here I fulfilled a dream – I built the first quiet wind tunnel in Israel.”

Dr. Adi Hanuka, who has three degrees from the Andrew and Erna Viterbi Faculty of Electrical and Computer Engineering, told the audience about her time at the Technion and afterwards. “During my undergraduate degree, I already began to develop a system for monitoring physiological data based on eyelid movements, and in the following years I guided students through the rest of this project. In further degrees, I worked on developing small particle accelerators for medical use. What’s beautiful about science is that when you start research you know where you’re aiming for, but you have no idea what you’re going to find out along the way. What’s certain is that the Technion gave me an excellent toolbox that accompanied me throughout my post-doctoral fellowship and is still relevant today to the start-up I work for in California.”

The TechWomen events have already led many high school students to choose the Technion. One such student is Noor Jumaa, originally from Taybeh, who came to TechWomen 2018 three years ago on the recommendation of her math teacher and returned a year later to TechWomen 2019. “The second time I had good SAT scores and thought I was going to study electrical engineering, but two weeks before I enrolled, I changed my mind and chose the Wolfson Faculty of Chemical Engineering. Why? Because I also studied chemistry in high school and wanted a course that combined chemistry, physics, and math. Now, at the age of 21, I’m already in my second year, convinced that I made the right choice and in love with this profession. It’s hard at the Technion, but the difficulty is part of the beauty, and I’ve always been a nerd who’s been busy with math exercises, so I’m used to working hard.”

Nicole Volova also attended the TechWomen 2018 event. At the time she was at the Wizo Nahalal School as part of the Naale program and Anieres Elite Academy program run by the global educational organization World ORT. After the event, she debated which field she would study at the Technion and eventually chose the Viterbi Faculty of Electrical and Computer Engineering. “It’s a great choice because this faculty is very diverse and there’s a lot of choice after the first year. I realized during these last few years that my field is computers, and that’s how I choose my courses.” Nicole is currently in her final year of studies at the Technion, after which she will begin her military service.

“You can do whatever it is you decide you want to do; I believe in you”

“I believe in you,” said long-term Technion donor Rosalyn August at the event. “I have your back.”

The staunch Technion supporter kicked off our annual Tech Women event with strong words of encouragement for the next generation of female innovators.

“I particularly wanted a program that was just for women because I went into a field that was mostly just for men and I was told that women can’t do,” said August who followed her dream of opening an antique and estate jewelry business despite being told only men can work in the industry. “It’s not good to tell ‘Roz’ things that we can’t do. I like to think of the things that we can do and I want you to know that I know that you can do whatever it is you decide you want to do. I believe in you.”

Watch August’s full speech:

When the Technion was established in the 1920s, there was just one female student on the roster. Now, women account for 42% of our student body. The increase comes after more than a decade of focusing our efforts on encouraging women to choose academic studies in science and engineering.

Are you a morning lark or a night owl?

In both cases, it may have something to do with your gut bacteria. This was the finding of joint research carried out by scientists from the University of Haifa and the Technion, which shows that there is hope for change for people whose sleep habits are a cause of suffering

The study was conducted in collaboration between researchers and a number of research groups at the University of Haifa and the Technion: Assoc. Prof. Eran Tauber Head of the Biological Clock Lab in the Department of Evolutionary and Environmental Biology at the University of Haifa and his lab manager Dr Bettina Fishman, Prof. Tamar Shochat and research student Liel Stelmach Lask of the Cheryl Spencer Department of Nursing at the University of Haifa, and Dr. Naama Geva-Zatorsky, Head of the Microbiome Research Lab of the Rappaport Faculty of Medicine at the Technion, and her Ph.D. student Shaqed Carasso. The challenge was to examine differences in gut microbiome composition between early risers and night people.

“This is the first time that a connection has been found between people’s gut microbiome, eating behavior and sleep patterns,” says Prof. Tauber. “These discoveries are likely to pave the way to change these patterns by altering one’s diet.”

Research shows there is hope for people who suffer from poor sleep habits

According to Prof. Shochat, “The current practice is to divide people into three different “chronotypes” (chronotype is the body’s natural disposition to be awake or asleep at certain times), which, according to earlier studies, were already known to be genetically different: “larks”, who are morning people who get up early and are at their best in the morning; “owls” – night people who go to bed late and have a hard time functioning in the morning; and the intermediate group, which is made up of most of the population. Studies conducted in recent years found significant differences between the different chronotypes – physiological, cognitive and in the structure of their personality. It’s worth noting that a number of studies concerning the genetic mechanisms that influence circadian rhythm – our “body clock” – were at the core of the Nobel Prize in Medicine for 2017.”

Initial evidence collected as part of a study on flies in Prof. Tauber’s lab, supports the idea that changes in gut microbiome composition may affect chronotype identity. Since the genes related to circadian rhythm are identical among humans and flies, a joint research proposal between the Tauber, Shochat and Geva-Zatorsky groups was suggested to examine the existence of a similar relationship in humans, which culminated in the research published in the FASEB Journal.

The researchers made a pitch to the general public and recruited volunteers from across the country, who sent in stool samples and reported on their sleep patterns and eating behaviors. The researchers characterized the composition of the gut flora of 91 volunteers belonging to the three chronotypes (morning people, night people and intermediate types) through DNA sequencing of the samples.

The research results point to differences between the microbiome of “larks” and “owls”; among “larks”, the researchers found a higher percentage of the bacterial genus Alistipes, whereas among “owls”, the bacteria belonging to the Lachnospira genus were higher –bacteria that produce butyrate, a short-chain fatty acid that is a source of signals related to sleep and wakefulness.

When the researchers reviewed the daily diets of the subjects through questionnaires, they again found significant differences between morning larks and night owls: morning people eat far more fruits and vegetables, drink mainly water and do not eat complex carbohydrates, whereas night people eat a high-fat diet, lots of meat, fewer fruits, and drink beverages that contain large amounts of sugar.

Researchers observed significant differences between the daily diets of “morning larks” and “night owls”

“Studies at our lab and other labs active in this sphere, show that our gut microbiome composition and our health are closely connected,” says Dr. Naama Geva-Zatorsky and Shaqed Carasso. “Moreover, our eating behaviors, diet, and habits can affect our gut microbiome composition. The present research focuses on healthy people and paves the way to characterizing not only how bacteria vary between different chronotypes, but also to an understanding of how gut bacteria are affected by our habits and how they might affect us. It is important to note that causality was not yet proven, and this shall be the focus of our next study”

Indeed, according to the researchers, it is still too early to determine whether the difference in microbiome composition influences the attribution to the different chronotypes or is influenced by it, or if the causality at play here is more complex. That said, the fact that for the first time a connection of this kind has been found opens up opportunities for an examination of the subject. As mentioned, the fact that “owls” are characterized by a large number of bacteria that produce butyrate, an amino acid that is connected to the sleep/wake rhythm, supports the assumption that there is a connection between sleep/wake patterns and gut flora composition. Meanwhile, initial evidence collected in Prof. Tauber’s lab on the research on flies reinforces the idea that changes in microbiome composition could affect chronotype identity.

“The customary daily routine in Western society today often makes things tough for night owls,” says Prof. Tauber. “They go to bed late and have to get up relatively early to go about their daily duties, so they often suffer from a lack of sleep. We also know that many night people suffer from problems like depression, diabetes and obesity. We hope that if we can change the bacterial populations that inhabit our digestive tract, for example, by making changes in our diet and eating habits, we might be able to influence the sleep patterns of owls and improve their quality of life.”

Researchers have developed a way to create freeform optical components by shaping a volume of curable liquid polymer. The new method is poised to enable faster prototyping of customized optical components for a variety of applications including corrective lenses, augmented and virtual reality, autonomous vehicles, medical imaging and astronomy.

Lens manufacturing in progress

Common devices such as eyeglasses or cameras rely on lenses – optical components with spherical or cylindrical surfaces, or slight deviations from such shapes. However, more advanced optical functionalities can be obtained from surfaces with complex topographies. Currently, fabricating such freeform optics is very difficult and expensive because of the specialized equipment required to mechanically process and polish their surfaces.

Lens manufacturing in progress

“Our approach to making freeform optics achieves extremely smooth surfaces and can be implemented using basic equipment that can be found in most labs,” said research team leader Moran Bercovici from the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology. “This makes the technology very accessible, even in low resource settings.”

Researchers created freeform optical components by shaping a volume of curable liquid polymer. The new method can be used for making large optics, which has been difficult to accomplish with other methods

In Optica, Optica Publishing Group’s journal for high-impact research, Bercovici and colleagues show that their new technique can be used to fabricate freeform components with sub-nanometer surface roughness in just minutes. Unlike other prototyping methods such as 3D printing, the fabrication time remains short even if the volume of the manufactured component increases.

“Currently, optical engineers pay tens of thousands of dollars for specially designed freeform components and wait months for them to arrive,” said Omer Luria, one of the contributors to the paper. “Our technology is poised to radically decrease both the waiting time and the cost of complex optical prototypes, which could greatly speed up the development of new optical designs.”

Omer Luria in the lab 

From eyeglasses to complex optics

The researchers decided to develop the new method after learning that 2.5 billion people around the world don’t have access to corrective eyewear. “We set out to find a simple method for fabricating high quality optical components that does not rely on mechanical processing or complex and expensive infrastructure,” said Valeri Frumkin, who first developed the method in Bercovici’s lab. “We then discovered that we could expand our method to produce much more complex and interesting optical topographies.”

Valeri Frumkin

One of the primary challenges in making optics by curing a liquid polymer is that for optics larger than about 2 millimeters, gravity dominates over surface forces, which causes the liquid to flatten into a puddle. To overcome this, the researchers developed a way to fabricate lenses using liquid polymer that is submerged in another liquid. The buoyancy counteracts gravity, allowing surface tension to dominate.

From right to left: Mor Elgarisi, Prof. Moran Bercovici and Omer Luria

With gravity out of the picture, the researchers could fabricate smooth optical surfaces by controlling the surface topography of the lens liquid. This entails injecting the lens liquid into a supportive frame so that the lens liquid wets the inside of the frame and then relaxes into a stable configuration. Once the required topography is achieved, the lens liquid can be solidified by UV exposure or other methods to complete the fabrication process.

The researchers used their new method to make optical components with various geometries — including toroid and trefoil shapes — and sizes up to 200 mm as well as freeform surfaces. The lenses exhibited surface qualities similar to the best polishing technologies available while being orders of magnitude quicker and simpler to make

After using the liquid fabrication method to make simple spherical lenses, the researchers expanded to optical components with various geometries — including toroid and trefoil shapes — and sizes up to 200 mm. They show that the resulting lenses exhibited surface qualities similar to the best polishing technologies available while being orders of magnitude quicker and simpler to make. In the work published in Optica, they further expanded the method to create freeform surfaces, by modifying the shape of the supportive frame.

Infinite possibilities

“We identified an infinite range of possible optical topographies that can be fabricated using our approach,” said Mor Elgarisi, the paper’s lead author. “The method can be used to make components of any size, and because liquid surfaces are naturally smooth, no polishing is required. The approach is also compatible with any liquid that can be solidified and has the advantage of not producing any waste.”

Mor Elgarisi, Lead Author

The researchers are now working to automate the fabrication process so that various optical topographies can be made in a precise and repeatable way. They are also experimenting with various optical polymers to find out which ones produce the best optical components.

To watch a video of the experiment:

Technion President Prof. Uri Sivan, entrepreneurs, and venture capital industry representatives attended the final event of the BizTEC Entrepreneurship Program at the Technion. Since its establishment in 2004, graduates of the program have raised a total of more than $1 billion

The Defi team, established by Technion students, won first prize and $10,000 in the BizTEC 2021 entrepreneurship competition, which took place in Tel Aviv. The prize was awarded to the team members for the development of a compact, portable defibrillator, which is inexpensive and easy to use.

First prize winners. Right to left: Ohad Yaniv, Eyal Kellner, Yaron Arbel, Alon Gilad, Idan Shenfeld, Ravit Abel and Prof. Ezri Tarazi

First prize winners from right to left: Ohad Yaniv, Eyal Kellner, Yaron Arbel, Alon Gilad, Idan Shenfeld, Ravit Abel and Prof. Ezri Tarazi

Sudden cardiac arrest is caused when the heart’s electrical system malfunctions. The heart stops beating properly and its pumping function is “arrested,” or stopped. Automated External Defibrillators (AED) are ambulatory devices designed to automatically analyze the patient’s heart rhythm and, if it is found to be in need for fibrillation, deliver the electric pulse (or “shock”) to the heart in order to restore the normal heart rhythm. Typically, these devices are housed in wall-mounted cases and placed in key locations around offices and public places. Hand-carried AEDs are expensive and difficult to manage because of their size and shape. This is why the Defi team is developing a smaller and more cost-effective alternative to the traditional defibrillator so that more of these life-saving devices can be made available to the public.

The members of the team are Ravit Abel, graduate of the Wolfson Faculty of Chemical Engineering, Idan Shenfeld, a graduate of the Henry and Marilyn Taub Faculty of Computer Engineering in the Rothschild-Technion Program for Excellence, and Alon Gilad, a mechanical engineer studying for his master’s degree in the Faculty of Biomedical Engineering. The team was accompanied throughout the accelerator process by Ichilov Hospital’s Chief Information Officer, Eyal Kellner, and the Director of Ichilov’s Cardiovascular Research Center, Professor Yaron Arbel. Several months ago, the team took first place in the iTrek competition, which was held at the Technion and at the Joan and Irwin Jacobs Technion-Cornell Institute at Cornell Tech.

Today, the BizTEC Entrepreneurship Program is part of t-Hub, the Technion Entrepreneurship and Innovation Center, headed by Professor Ezri Tarazi, under the leadership of Ohad Yaniv, who heads the BizTEC accelerator program and startup programs.

The BizTEC program was founded in 2004 to cultivate novice entrepreneurs seeking to develop deep technologies that require interdisciplinary collaboration and in-depth knowledge infrastructure. It provides participating teams with professional guidance from mentors in academia and industry. In the 17 years of the program’s existence, its graduates have founded dozens of active companies that have collectively raised more than $1 billion, including Breezometer, Augmedics, Windward, Houseparty, and Presenso. This year, around 100 teams applied for the program, and of them, 37 were accepted. Eleven teams made it through to the finals and presented their developments to the audience.

Yossi Vardi

Yossi Vardi

The final event was attended by Technion President Professor Uri Sivan, numerous entrepreneurs, and senior representatives of the venture capital industry in Israel, many of them Technion alumni. They included former Minister of Science and Technology and entrepreneur Izhar Shay, Ormat founders Dita and Yehuda Bronicki, entrepreneur Yossi Vardi, Dadi Perlmutter, who served as Executive Vice President of the global Intel Corporation, Playbuzz founder Shaul Olmert, former CEO of Microsoft Israel, Yoram Yaacovi, entrepreneur Dan Vilenski.

4.Technion President Professor Uri Sivan

Technion President Prof. Uri Sivan

Technion President Prof. Uri Sivan opened the event with these words:

“In the past few years we recognized that entrepreneurship is a far broader field than tech entrepreneurship or business entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurship is a state of mind that can be applied in every sphere of the lives of us all and is tightly connected with leadership. In recent years, here at the Technion we developed numerous social entrepreneurship programs, meaning groups of people that go out to the community and use entrepreneurial tools and entrepreneurial thinking to better the community’s condition, working together with the community. I thank Dita and Yehuda Bronicki who support the program, not only materially but also spiritually. Their spirit is instilled in every aspect of the entrepreneurship program.”

Yehuda Bronicki

“As the Technion’s leading entrepreneurship program, BizTEC well reflects the integration of entrepreneurial leadership as a substantial part of the study experience,” said Prof. Ezri Tarazi, Head of the Technion Entrepreneurship and Innovation Center (t-Hub). “It furnishes participants with tools for the assimilation of deep technology in meaningful applications that are connected to the global challenges we face in human health, sustainability and the digital world. This event, hosted by t-Hub and attended by senior members of the Israeli hi-tech industry, is proof of the Technion’s continuing centrality to Israel’s economy.”

“BizTEC is a small, special place that enables teams to come in with just an idea, and in less than six months, acquire all the tools they need to turn it into reality,” said Ohad Yaniv, head of the accelerator program and startup programs. “Starting with building the business model, through validation, creating proof of concept, building a presentation, all the way to the pilot phase, first customer acquisition and even the first investment. Compared to any other accelerator in Israel, and even on an international level, its results are exceptional.”

Second place winners with Dita Bronicki

Second place winners with Dita Bronicki

Two teams took second place: BrainSense, which developed a system that monitors stroke events by identifying changes in brain activity and whose members are Technion students; and Oral Detect, which developed a home system for the early detection of tooth decay and won the BME-Hack Biomedical Engineering Hackathon that took place at the Technion earlier this year.

3.Third place winners with the entrepreneur Izhar Shay

Third place winners with entrepreneur Izhar Shay

Third place was taken by Soltrex, a team of Technion graduates that developed a fully autonomous technology for the cleaning and operation of solar panels.

“Sutures? That’s practically medieval!”

It is a staple of science fiction to mock sutures as outdated. The technique has, after all, been in use for at least 5,000 years. Surely medicine should have advanced since ancient Egypt. Professor Hossam Haick from the Wolfson Department of Chemical Engineering at the Technion has finally turned science fiction into reality. His lab succeeded in creating a smart, sutureless dressing that not only binds wounds together, but also wards off infection and reports the wound’s condition directly to doctors’ computers. Their study was published in Advanced Materials.

Self-healing, antibacterial, and multifunctional wound dressing in action

Current surgical procedures entail the surgeon cutting the human body, doing what needs to be done, and sewing the wound shut – an invasive procedure that damages surrounding healthy tissue. Some sutures degrade by themselves – or should degrade – as the wound heals. Others need to be manually removed. Dressing is then applied over the wound and medical personnel monitor the wound by removing the dressing to allow observation for signs of infection like swelling, redness, and heat. This procedure is painful to the patient, and disruptive to healing, but it is unavoidable. Working with these methods also means that infection is often discovered late, since it takes time for visible signs to appear and more time for medical staff to come around and see them. In developed countries with good sanitation available, about 20% of patients develop infections post-surgery, necessitating additional treatment and extending the recovery time. The figure and consequences are much worse in developing countries.

Professor Hossam Haick

Professor Hossam Haick

How will it work with Prof. Haick’s new dressing?

Prior to beginning a procedure, the dressing – which is very much like a smart band-aid – developed by Prof. Haick’s lab will be applied to the site of the planned incision. The incision will then be made through it. Following the surgery, the two ends of the wound will be brought together, and within three seconds the dressing will bind itself together, holding the wound closed, similarly to sutures. From then, the dressing will be continuously monitoring the wound, tracking the healing process, checking for signs of infection like changes in temperature, pH, and glucose levels, and report to the medical personnel’s smartphones or other devices. The dressing will also itself release antibiotics onto the wound area, preventing infection.

“I was watching a movie on futuristic robotics with my kids late one night,” said Prof. Haick, “and I thought, what if we could really make self-repairing sensors?”

Photo of the sensing part of MFDW

Most people discard their late-night cinema-inspired ideas. Not Prof. Haick, who, the very next day after his Eureka moment, was researching and making plans. The first publication about a self-healing sensor came in 2015 (read more about it on the Technion website here). At that time, the sensor needed almost 24 hours to repair itself. By 2020, sensors were healing in under a minute (read about the study by Muhammad Khatib, a student in Prof. Haick’s lab here), but while they had multiple applications, they were not yet biocompatible, that is, not usable in contact with skin and blood. Creating a polymer that would be both biocompatible and self-healing was the next step, and one that was achieved by postdoctoral fellow Dr. Ning Tang.

Concept of MFWD, which can inhibit bacterial growth, close a wound in sutureless manner via biocompatible elastomer having self-healing ability, and monitor healing status by detecting wound-related biomarkers.

The new polymer is structured like a molecular zipper, made from sulfur and nitrogen: the surgeon’s scalpel opens it; then pressed together, it closes and holds fast. Integrated carbon nanotubes provide electric conductivity and the integration of the sensor array. In experiments, wounds closed with the smart dressing healed as fast as those closed with sutures and showed reduced rates of infection.

“It’s a new approach to wound treatment,” said Prof. Haick. “We introduce the advances of the fourth industrial revolution – smart interconnected devices, into the day-to-day treatment of patients.”

Prof. Haick is the head of the Laboratory for Nanomaterial-based Devices (LNBD) and the Dean of Undergraduate Studies at the Technion.

Dr. Ning Tang

Dr. Ning Tang

Dr. Ning Tang was a postdoctoral fellow in Prof. Haick’s laboratory and conducted this study as part of his fellowship. He has now been appointed an associate professor in Shanghai Jiao Tong University.

The academic year has begun, and the campus is bustling with activity – from boosting human health research, to inaugurating a new sports arena, and much more.

The 2021-22 academic year opened on October 24, 2021. This year, we welcomed 2,000 new students, who bring our student body to approximately 15,000 students in 17 faculties.

To get the latest news, read the November edition of our e-newsletter, Technion LIVE.

To read previous issues of Technion LIVE, click here. To subscribe, click here.

Researchers in the Faculty of Biotechnology and Food Engineering at the Technion developed a technology that inhibits development of melanoma using one-millionth of the active ingredient. The study, published in Advanced Functional Materials, was led by Prof. Marcelle Machluf, Dean of the Faculty, and PhD student Lior Levy.

Immunotherapy in action. This development is a significant breakthrough in the field of immunotherapy – an innovative medical approach that has become one of the most promising trends in cancer treatment. The approach is based on the ability of the body’s own immune system to destroy cancer cells. This system can do that more accurately and specifically than synthetic anti-cancer drugs. However, since the malignant tumor is heterogeneous and evasive, it can sometimes fool the immune system, and this is where science enters the picture, with new tools that help the immune system deal with this challenge.

TRAIL protein. At the core of this new development is a protein called TRAIL, which exists in the body’s immune system and knows how to induce apoptosis (programmed cell death) of cancer cells. In other words, it is a Tumor Necrosis Factor (TNF). Another advantage: it is selective, meaning it only affects cancer cells, a highly desirable feature in anti-cancer treatment. The application of TRAIL in immunotherapy has so far encountered various technical challenges, including the absorption of the protein in the body, its distribution (pharmacokinetics), and the fact that it does not survive for very long. This study offers a solution to these problems.

A schematic description of preparing Nano-Ghosts from cells that underwent genetic or metabolic manipulation and now carry the TRAIL protein. These cells, with Nano-Ghost targeting for cancer and with the TRAIL protein, can reach the cancer site and fight effectively while using one millionth the concentration of the active ingredient required without this system.

Nano-Ghosts technology. The development presented in the Technion researchers’ article is based on original technology developed by Prof. Machluf in her years at the Technion: Nano-Ghosts. The platform is produced by emptying specific biological cells (mesenchymal stem cells) in a way that leaves only the cell membrane and reducing their size to a nanometer scale. Any drug can be inserted into the membrane and injected directly into the bloodstream. Because the body’s immune system treats nano-ghosts as natural cells, it delivers them to the affected site. They do not release the drug on the way, and therefore do not harm healthy tissue. They target the malignant tissue, where they deliver the drug into the tumor cells.

Professor Marcelle Machluf & Lior Levy, a PhD student

Integration. The study integrates the three aforementioned factors: the immunotherapy concept, the TRAIL protein, and the Nano-Ghost technology developed by Prof. Machluf. The result: a drug delivery system with the active protein on its outer layer, which allows reduction of the drug dosage by a factor of a million while maintaining the same treatment effect.
According to Prof. Machluf, “this integration turns the Nano-Ghost platform from a “taxi” that delivers the drug to the target into a “tank” that participates in the war. The integrated platform delivers the drug to the tumor and enables a significant reduction in drug dosage yet still does the job. We also showed that our method does not harm healthy cells.”

The technology was demonstrated on cells in the lab and on human cancer cells in mice. The researchers estimate that this new strategy, which was demonstrated in their study on a melanoma model, will also be effective on other types of cancer.

To read the full academic article, click here

Thanks to the support of the Adelis Foundation, the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology will establish the André Deloro Building for Transformative Biomedical Sciences and Engineering. The new center, the only one of its kind in Israel, will be devoted to interdisciplinary medical, scientific, and engineering research. Its mission will be to advance research in human health by facilitating collaboration among researchers from different faculties and disciplines.

The Deloro Building will provide a meeting place for top Technion researchers. It will form a bridge between fields studied separately up until now, to foster discoveries and to stimulate creative, innovative applied research that will revolutionize medical treatments and devices. It will encourage collaboration between the worlds of medicine, science, and engineering.

Rendering: André Deloro Building for Transformative Biomedical Sciences and Engineering

“Human health is one of the main challenges facing humanity in the 21st century,” said Technion President Professor Uri Sivan. “Like other huge challenges, a significant revolution in human health requires multidisciplinary efforts. To take full advantage of the Technion’s capabilities, this initiative will encompass a full spectrum of science and technology. It will support human health research and the conversion of research discoveries into applications and products that will serve the medical system and medical teams on the front lines. The idea is to build a bridge between medicine and life sciences, exact sciences, engineering, data science, and design.”

From Left to Right: Rebecca Boukhris, Technion President Professor Uri Sivan, Sydney Boukhris

“With the unprecedented progress of new technologies, we are entering a new phase in the development of applied and creative research in the field of human health”, said Mrs. Rebecca Boukhris, ADELIS Foundation Trustee. “In the next few years, we will see the emergence of the “multidisciplinary researcher” notion thanks to the growing influx of new data that will allow the researcher to further develop his research work. This requires large research institutions, such as the Technion, to provide their best researchers with new structures, but also with new solutions designed to promote collaboration between researchers of different specialties in common research projects. Indeed, the Adelis  Foundation is convinced that by bringing together talented researchers from different specialties, in laboratories equipped with the latest state-of-the-art equipment, they will be able to come up with new innovative ideas that will lead to important discoveries in the field of human health.

This is why the Adelis Foundation has decided to participate in setting off this transformation by funding the creation of the André Deloro Institute for Transformative Biomedical Sciences and Engineering, which it considers “a catalyst.”

Rendering: André Deloro Building for Transformative Biomedical Sciences and Engineering

Fifty years ago, Technion management made a groundbreaking decision: establishing a medical school in a scientific – technological university. They did so because they understood that combining medicine with engineering will accelerate research and development, and lead to medical innovations, including drugs, medical devices, diagnostics, and imaging technologies.

Indeed, inspired by the Technion’s entrepreneurial environment, many researchers on campus are focusing on developing medical applications, using the extensive knowledge amassed at the Technion in exact sciences, engineering, data science, and life science. Moreover, researchers from all faculties collaborate to translate this knowledge into innovative technologies. The Technion’s close connections with high-tech industries in general and the bio-medical engineering sector, in particular, enable researchers to translate these technologies to products and treatments that contribute to human health in Israel and around the world.

Researchers from the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology and the Helmholtz-Zentrum Hereon Center in Germany have developed a new concept for fabricating membranes for on-demand nanoparticle separation with high selectivity. These membranes are relevant for diverse applications that include pharmaceutical processing, materials separation, water purification, and wastewater treatment.

Published in Advanced Materials, the research study was led by Assistant Professor Tamar Segal-Peretz and Ph.D. student Assaf Simon of the Wolfson Faculty of Chemical Engineering at the Technion, together with Dr. Zhenzhen Zhang and Professor Volker Abetz of the Helmholtz-Zentrum Hereon Research Center.

High-selectivity molecular separation is a common process in nature that occurs, for example, in cell membrane channels. Membrane channels separate the interior of the cell from its outside environment and regulate which materials can pass into and out of the cell. Inspired by nature, numerous research groups have attempted to develop similar membrane channels that enable precise filtration of various materials for diverse industrial applications. But synthetic fabrication of such membranes, with high levels of well-ordered pores, and high uniformity and selectivity, poses a complex engineering challenge, made even more complex when the membranes are intended for extremely small nanoparticle separation.

Right: Membrane manufacturing process – growth of metals within the membrane channels in a precise way that controls their size, and then creating a response to obtain a membrane with a unique physical property. Left: Sectional view of the membrane showing a combination of the metal oxides on top of the block-copolymer membranes.

The Technion and Helmholtz-Zentrum Hereon researchers succeeded in fabricating such membranes using block copolymers – spontaneously self-assembled polymer molecules, in combination with metal oxide growth on and within the block copolymer pores. The process developed by the researchers provides an excellent method for precisely tuning the pore size as well as other properties of the membrane. In addition, the metal oxide is an ideal base for incorporating functional groups on the membrane surface, granting it unique properties, such as electric charge and hydrophobicity (water repellency). These membranes exhibited superior performance in the separation of nanoparticles based on size, charge, and/or hydrophobicity.

Prof. Segal-Peretz estimates the breakthrough will provide various industries with a new, versatile, and accurate tool for the filtration of molecules, pollutants, and other particles.

Tamar Segal-Peretz, Asst. Professor

Assaf Simon, Ph.D. student

Click here for the paper in Advanced Materials.

Recruitment of new faculty, specialization in entrepreneurship, face-to-face studies on campus, preparatory course in mathematics and a variety of new tracks: The Technion prepares for the 2021/22 academic year.

The 2021/22 academic year opened at the Technion on Sunday, October 24. This year, 2,000 new students joined the Technion campus, bringing the student population to about 15,000 students in 17 faculties. 11,595 will study towards a bachelor’s degree, while the rest will be studying toward graduate degrees. 218 of the master’s students are studying at the Joan and Irwin Jacobs Technion-Cornell Institute in New York.

“It is wonderful to open the year and see the campus fill up again,” Technion President Professor Uri Sivan said in a greeting to the students. “In recent months, we have begun to prepare for the centennial celebrations of the Technion. The beginning in 1924 was modest – 16 young men and one young woman – in a single building in the Hadar neighborhood, and today, we have a large and developed campus, a bustling intellectual center.”

“We meet today after three difficult semesters, in which social distancing was imposed on all of us due to the coronavirus pandemic,” Senior Vice-President of the Technion, Professor Oded Rabinovitch said to the students at the opening ceremony. “We view social and interpersonal aspects as important, and they’re based upon meeting you on campus. We recognize the importance of human interaction in education, exchange of views, creativity, imagination, intellectual independence, attention to details, and more. Aim high, try to find the directions in which you will excel. Good luck, everyone.”

The share of women among undergraduate students now stands at 42% (among first-year students, the percentage of women is 44%), thanks to the strategy led by the Technion to increase the percentage of women in higher education. Over the past decade, this strategy has led to a significant increase in the number of female students choosing academic studies in the fields of science and engineering at the Technion.

This year, the most sought-after faculties among new students were the Andrew and Erna Viterbi Faculty of Electrical and Computer Engineering, the Henry and Marilyn Taub Faculty of Computer Science, and the Faculty of Medicine.

Also noteworthy: the Technion now offers new students a three-week preparation course leading up to the opening of the academic year, free of charge, focusing on mathematics and other skills; an interdisciplinary bachelor’s degree program; entrepreneurship studies; and, for the first time this year, a unique track toward a combined degree in physics and aerospace engineering.