This year, one of Israel’s most prestigious and poignant educational programs, the Israel Scholarship Education Foundation (ISEF) mark 45 years since its establishment, unfortunately coinciding with the passing of Lily Safra, one of its key founders and the former Honorary Chair of the Edmond J. Safra Philanthropic Foundation.

The ISEF Foundation was founded in 1977 by Edmond J. Safra z”l and his wife Lily Safra, together with Nina Weiner, cofounder and Chairwoman Emerita of the philanthropic organization. Madame Safra, a renowned philanthropist for educational, cultural, and social causes in Israel and aboard, unfortunately passed away recently.

 Lily Safra Z”L. [Photo by Erez Lichtfeld].

Lily Safra received an honorary doctorate degree from the Technion in 2018 for significant charitable donations to important causes, and specifically for her support of the ISEF program that has helped hundreds of students from the Technion, as well as for her generous donations to support the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering. In 2019, Weiner also received a Technion honorary doctorate degree.

Opening the doors to academic excellence for tomorrow’s scientific leaders

ISEF was established with the goal of narrowing Israel’s socioeconomic gaps by transforming Israel’s disadvantaged communities through access to higher education opportunities for underserved children. ISEF achieves this by awarding university scholarships to promising young students from a wide range of cultural and ethnic groups who share the Foundation’s values and meet the criteria for support – financial need, scholastic excellence, and leadership potential. ISEF supports students throughout their academic journey – from their B.A. through their master’s and Ph.D., and even for their postdoctoral studies.

In addition to access to academic opportunities, ISEF provides students with wraparound support and access to personal development programs that help ensure the program’s impressive graduation rate of over 95%. The program has produced 35 professors and 70 Ph.D. lecturers at Israel’s top universities, including the Technion.

Technion students shine with ISEF’s support

ISEF currently supports several Technion Ph.D. candidates taking part in breakthrough research groups:

Mor Elgarisi

Mor Elgarisi from Karmiel, a small town in Northern Israel, earned his B.Sc. in Mechanical Engineering from a local college in his hometown, achieving summa cum laude. Mor took part in the Technion’s graduate program in Mechanical Engineering in Prof. Moran Bercovici’s Microfluidic Technologies Laboratory, entering the direct track to a Ph.D.

Israel Gabay

Israel Gabay grew up in Qiryat Shemona. He began his studies in the Technion’s Department of Materials Science and Engineering and, thanks to academic excellence, later transferred to the Mechanical Engineering Faculty, where he earned his bachelor’s degree, summa cum laude. During his bachelor’s degree, Israel was recognized on the Technion President’s List for Academic Achievements five times, as well as by the Dean’s List for Academic Excellence and currently he is on a direct path to a Ph.D.

Both Mor and Israel were proud to have a key role in the Fluidic Shaping experiment recently tested by Israeli astronaut Eytan Stibbe in space. Stibbe, who took part in the Rakia mission that was a collaboration between Axiom Space, NASA Ames Research Center, the Israeli Ministry of Innovation, Science, and Technology, and the Ramon Foundation, successfully tested the ability to manufacture optical elements in space for the first time, creating a solid lens from liquid.

Hila Tarazi-Riess is another remarkable Ph.D. candidate in the Faculty of Biotechnology and Food Engineering. Hila is from Giv’at Ze’ev and her research focuses on evaluating the impact of physiologically digested carrageenan (a common food additive) on human gut microbiome. In 2018, Hila won first prize for ‘Innovative Product Development,’ led by the EIT Food Consortium in Europe.

Hila Tarazi-Riess

ISEF as a supporting pillar of the Technion’s academic excellence

Several members of Technion faculty are proud ISEF alumni:

Dr. Yaniv Romano is an Assistant Professor at the Departments of Computer Science and of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the Technion. Yaniv earned his B.Sc., M.Sc., and Ph.D. from the Andrew and Erna Viterbi Faculty of Electrical and Computer Engineering Department. He received support from ISEF to conduct postdoctoral research in statistics at Stanford University.

ד"ר יניב רומנו

Dr. Yaniv Romano

Today, Dr. Romano works to advance theories and practices of modern machine learning systems, focusing on uncertainty quantification, explainability, and robustness.

Dr. Shenhav Cohen

Dr. Shenhav Cohen is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Biology and head of a lab deciphering the molecular mechanisms that regulate muscle size. Shenhav earned her B.Sc. in Life Science and Ph.D. in Molecular Cell Biology and Cancer at Bar Ilan University before taking part in an ISEF International Fellowship at Harvard Medical School in 2006-2011. In 2013, Dr. Cohen joined the Technion’s Faculty of Biology, enabling her to complete her research on muscular atrophy, which has been published in prestigious medical and scientific journals.

 

Dr. Eitan Yaakobi is an Associate Professor at the Henry and Marilyn Taub Faculty of Computer Science, was an ISEF International Postdoc Fellow in Electrical and

פרופ' איתן יעקבי

Dr. Eitan Yaakobi

Computer Engineering at the California Institute of Technology, and a Ph.D. fellow at the University of California San Diego. Raised in Qiryat Shemona, Eitan became an ISEF scholar in 2002, earning his B.Sc. and M.Sc. in Mathematics and Computer Science at the Technion. As an ISEF fellow at UC-San Diego, Eitan conducted his Ph.D. research in “error correcting coding for flash drives,” earning him the 2009 Marconi Society’s Young Scholar Award, akin to the Nobel Prize in his field of study. He was awarded the Intel Ph.D. Fellowship Award in 2011 for his research in data storage. Dr. Yaakobi is the current head of the Technion’s Excellence Program.

“This collaboration, fueled by philanthropy, brings together two world-class institutions, Technion and Cincinnati Children’s, and two leading laboratories, each with complementary skills and assets, to improve pediatric medicine on a global scale.”

–Marc Rothenberg, MD, PhD

Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology are working together to improve pediatric medicine on a global scale by establishing a collaborative data-driven research program to utilize big data in novel ways.

Through this collaboration, experts within each institution will train a core group of investigators skilled in biomedical informatics, which uses large data sets to help clinicians, researchers and scientists improve precision medicine, discover treatments, and deliver the best possible healthcare.

These highly trained researchers will support collaborative studies between Cincinnati Children’s and the Technion. The goal: to elevate pediatric medicine on a global scale by leveraging Cincinnati Children’s expertise in patient care, basic research, and translational research with Technion’s excellence in computer science and bioinformatics.

The collaboration, called the “Cincinnati Children’s–Technion Bridge to Next-Gen Medicine,” includes joint workshops, online lectures, faculty/student exchange visits, and research projects. To date, Cincinnati Children’s and Technion have co-sponsored joint academic symposia to exchange expertise between faculty and students, supported postdoctoral training and launched joint research in multiple areas of medicine. This work has already led to early findings published in the scientific literature—but this is just the beginning.

The Cincinnati Children’s–Technion Bridge to Next-Gen Medicine recently announced the first joint bioinformatics research grants, totaling $200,000 and funded through philanthropy. The selected projects for funding will be awarded $50,000 each, and were selected through a joint review process, involving representatives from both institutions. Funded projects include:

  • Developing Artificial Intelligence Approaches for Diagnostics and Predicting Treatment Efficacy in Eosinophilic Esophagitis. Marc Rothenberg, MD, PhD and Yoni Savir, PhD
  • Deep Learning in Point of Care Ultrasound: Applications in Pediatric Oral and Maxillofacial Emergency Visits for Improving Diagnostic Clinical Workflow. Patrick Ruck, DDS; Sarat Thikkurissy, DDS, MS; Surya Prasath, PhD; Omri Emodi, MD, DMD; and Jiriys Ginini, MSc, DMD
  • Resolving Hematopoietic Stem Cell Heterogeneity from Highly Quantitative Long-read Single-cell RNA-Sequencing. Nathan Salomonis, PhD and Yael Mandel-Gutfreund, PhD
  • Using Eye-Tracking and Machine Learning Technology to Quantify Joint Attention and Shared Reading Quality in Children with from Disadvantaged Backgrounds and with Medical Complexity. John S. Hutton, MD, MS and Tzipi Horowitz-Kraus, PhD

Michelle Kohn, Cincinnati Children’s Global Director for Israel, noted that Cincinnati Children’s–Technion Bridge to Next-Gen Medicine is one of several flagship collaborations in the medical center’s Israel Exchange Program.

“The goal of the Israel Exchange Program is to leverage the complementary strengths of Cincinnati Children’s and Israel to improve clinical care for children worldwide, expertly train pediatric providers and scientists, achieve breakthrough discoveries, and invent and commercialize products to improve children’s health globally,” Kohn said.

Professors Tzipi Horowitz-Kraus and Yoni Savir

 

Bareqet Hadad got married at the age of 18, and after giving birth to her first child, the next step seemed clear: studies at a religious college to become an English teacher. She grew up in an ultra-Orthodox community, finished high school with a complete matriculation certificate and discovered that she was good in English. But one evening, while she was on her way to friends in Haifa, her husband stopped her and said, “Bareqet, here’s something that looks interesting.” It was an advertisement for graduates of Beit Yaakov School for girls who want to study for a degree at the Technion.

“It was a possibility that I couldn’t have imagined,” she said several days after receiving her bachelor’s degree from the Technion. “I came from Haredi education and never thought that studying at the Technion was an option for me. But I called and discovered that there was an opening in the pre-academic course for ultra-Orthodox women at the Technion.”

From Torah to industrial engineering 

Bareqet grew up in Elad. “At home, studying was at the forefront – general studies for girls, Torah studies for boys. When I decided to take five units of English I needed special approval, and together with four other girls I took the matriculation exam and passed. I also wanted five units in mathematics, but I had to be satisfied with three, so the preparatory program opened an unexpected opportunity for me.”

At the start of the course at the Technion, Bareqet felt that she was back in her natural setting – studying with other women. “Not that it was easy. The studies are high-level and very intensive, but from the beginning, I felt a guiding hand from above. The lecturers were simply amazing and did everything they could to help us succeed. I insisted on understanding every detail and their door was always open, even after study hours.”

And then – a second pregnancy. “I remember struggling. It was difficult and challenging. I studied day and night, and fortunately the director of the course at the time Mooly Dotan gave me all the help I needed, including mentoring at the Technion and externally, anything that could help me finish the course. Without Mooly’s help I wouldn’t have been able to finish the course.” Bareqet successfully passed the pre-academic program and gave birth to her second son a few days later. Now she was ready to become a full-time Technion student, strengthened by her success in the program.

ברקת חדד

Bareqet Hadad

Bareqet chose the Faculty of Industrial Engineering and Management – and dove right in. “The path was clear, but I knew the road was difficult,” she said. “Sitting in a mixed classroom, men and women – was a very new experience for a woman from an ultra-Orthodox background. But I learned that to succeed you need partners, and the task is to study and nothing else, so why not? Ultimately, it was an important lesson for me.”

Bareqet chose as many courses as possible related to manufacturing. “This is the field that interested me most, because my father worked in sales in companies that developed and manufactured, so that was present in my life growing up,” she explained. “When you add to that my love for communicating with people, identifying problems, situation analysis and creating solutions – you get the Manufacturing and Service Systems Program.” So, she deepened her study into various topics, among them productivity and maintenance quality, quality engineering, industrial engineering incidents, service systems engineering, and production systems.

“On the personal level, studying at the Technion was a roller coaster. I started the first semester enthusiastically. At first everything went smoothly, it was all fresh in my mind from the preparatory course, but as the weeks went by the intensity grew and so did the workload. At some point I understood that I wasn’t keeping up, I was starting to hand in work late, but I continued, sat for exams…and then suddenly – fail, fail, and another fail,” she recalls. “At this point, just before registering for the second semester, I broke down.  My husband and I realized that maybe we were wrong, that maybe it wasn’t for me. In the morning we dropped the children off and sat on a bench, shattered, trying to come to a decision. At that time, we lived in the Technion dormitories, and we knew that stopping my studies meant leaving the dorms – and how would we get by?”

Top of the world

Bareqet decided to stop for a semester, to think and get organized, and then she returned. “I realized that life had toughened me up and I came back ready for the winter semester – my second at the Technion.” Here, Galit Eisig came into the picture. A counselor at the Technion’s Student Counseling Center, she accompanied Bareqet throughout the semester, and the trailblazing student passed all her exams the first time around, no need to retake them. “I felt on top of the world. It gave me the strength to continue.”

Her final project, which took the entire academic year, took place at Strauss, under the guidance of Dotan Rodensky, a faculty lecturer and CEO of consulting firm IE&P Group. Rodensky worked with the Technion Entrepreneurship & Innovation Center, and so the project had two teams – from the Faculty of Industrial Engineering and Management, and a team of four students from the Henry & Marilyn Taub Faculty of Computer Science, who provided artificial intelligence-based solutions. “Dotan’s guidance helped me submit an excellent project and we presented an end-product that will help Strauss’ excellence team,” says Bareqet.

In summary, she says, “there’s no doubt that the effort was worth it. Today I see that what they say about us, Technion graduates, is true: we stand out, we are equipped with an array of relevant skills for industry. Today, I am already in my second position in the industry, and I can quickly enter any role, work on the most complex production floors with the most advanced production lines. The skills that I learned at the Technion – thinking, analysis, systemic approach – are reflected in the field.”

Bareqet completed her degree with a third child, and let’s not forget that on the way, there were Zoom studies while holding children. “All this required me to improve my time management and planning. I also keep the Shabbat, so I have to be much more efficient during the week. I think that the Shabbat enabled me to survive the rest of the week. I learned how to manage myself on a daily basis, to ask for help, for advice, even to ask a hundred times until I’m sure I understand, to submit work on time, and think two steps ahead.”

ברקת חדד

Her belief in a guiding hand from above made it possible to overcome everything. “It’s a belief that gives enormous power to overcome small and big obstacles.” She has no doubt that there is no way she could have been able to get her degree without the tremendous help of her husband, a Yeshiva student and Torah Scribe, who took upon himself most of the care for their children. “During that time, he was also studying for accreditation exams of the Chief Rabbinate, and I’m happy that he passed them successfully at the same time as I did.”

The near future is completely obvious to her. “I have no doubt that I will be integrated in a senior position in the operational excellence division of a large enterprise like Strauss, a large company or a leading consulting firm. I will have a black belt in training for excellence and will be involved in projects that reach the CEO level,” she says.

An exceptional university in terms of support

 

The Technion, she says, is “an exceptional university in terms of support. I always remind myself that no matter how much and what we are given, in the end we, the students and graduates, have to meet the challenges by ourselves. No one will be tested in my place, and no one will be interviewed in my place. And yet – the help was and still is essential. Accommodation in the dormitories was critical both economically and in terms of proximity to the faculty.  The scholarships, with which I received the immense support of Naama Dror from the Office of the Dean of Students, were a great help. The lecturers, the tutors, dedicated their time far beyond the formal definitions.  And finally, Iris Moshkovitz, who we were fortunate to have thanks to Mooly and the Technion. Iris, an expert in business communication and career success, give us VIP service even after graduation in helping to find a job, CV, preparation for interviews, accompaniment in entering a new job and LinkedIn skills, and all with exceptional professionalism. That’s a great help.”

“Bareqet has shown remarkable determination, dedication to achieve her goals, and coping abilities,” says Mooly Dotan of the Technion Center for Pre-Academic Education. “Throughout her studies, she experienced several crises but managed to rise above, to complete all her assignments and finish her studies admirably as a woman with a family and mother of three. She is a Technion graduate and as such she deserves all the accolades,” he said. “More and more ultra-Orthodox girls are now showing an interest in studying engineering and medicine at the Technion. They are accepted in the regular admission process, like any other student, according to the “sechem” grade (average of matriculation exams and psychometric exam grades). Some of the ultra-Orthodox students choose medicine and some go to other faculties.”

Today, there are 100 ultra-Orthodox men and 20 ultra-Orthodox women studying at the Technion. Bareqet is one of the pioneers, and she hopes to influence girls in the ultra-Orthodox community and at least to present them with the possibility to study engineering, sciences, and medicine at the Technion.

A team of researchers from the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology has developed a proof-of-concept for a novel rechargeable silicon (Si) battery, as well as its design and architecture that enables Si to be reversibly discharged and charged.

Led by Professor Yair Ein-Eli of the Faculty of Materials Science and Engineering, the team proved via systematic experimental works of the graduate student, Alon Epstein and theoretical studies of Dr. Igor Baskin, that Si is dissolved during the battery discharge process, and upon charging, elemental Si is deposited. Several discharge-charge cycles were achieved, utilizing heavy doped n-type Si wafer anodes and specially designed hybrid based ionic liquid electrolytes, tailored with halides (Bromine and Iodine), functioning as conversion cathodes.

Prof. Yair Ein-Eli

Prof. Yair Ein-Eli

This breakthrough could pave the way towards an enrichment of the battery technologies available in the energy storage market, with the technology potentially easing stress on the ever-growing market and serving the increasing demand for rechargeable batteries.

PhD student Alon Epstein

PhD student Alon Epstein

Developments Leading to This Breakthrough

The increased demand for sustainable energy sources prompted the scientific community to focus on battery research capable of storing large scale grid energy in a manageable and reliable manner. Moreover, the rising demand of the EV industry, which mainly relies on current Li-ion battery (LIBs) technology is expected to strain current Li production and divert it from more widespread use in portable consumer electronics. Currently, no technology has proven to be competitive enough to displace LIBs. Metals and elements capable of delivering multi-electrons during their oxidation process have been the focus of the research community for a long time due to their associated high specific energy densities.

Magnesium, calcium, aluminum and zinc received much attention as potential anode materials with varied levels of progress; yet none of them has managed to revolutionize the energy storage industry beyond LIBs, as all of these systems suffer from poor kinetic performance to lack of cell stability, and therefore, much is left to be explored. Silicon (Si), as the second most abundant element on earth’s crust (after oxygen), was left relatively unexplored despite a high energy density of 8.4 kWh kg-1 on par with metallic Li 11.2 kWh kg-1; Si possesses stable surface passivation, low conductivity (dependent on the doping levels), and, until now, no established rechargeable cell chemistry comprising elemental Si as an active anode has been reported, outside LIB alloying anode.

Rechargeable Silicon Battery - conceptual illustration

Rechargeable Silicon Battery – conceptual illustration

In the past decade several publications (initiated originally in 2009 by Prof. Ein-Eli) reported the incorporation of active Si anodes in primary, non-rechargeable air-battery designs. Thus, despite its high abundance and ease of production, the possibility of using Si as an active multivalent rechargeable anode was never explored, until the team’s recent breakthrough.

The Technion team is made up of researchers from the Faculties of Materials Science and Engineering (A. Epstein, I. Baskin and Y. Ein-Eli), and from Mechanical and Chemical Engineering (M. Suss).

For the full article in Advanced Energy Materials, click here.

In an age of self-driving cars, industrial robots, and intelligent systems that help humans in a variety of situations, time and computational resources are valuable assets. These systems are required to react quickly to circumstances in a changing environment, and under conditions in which information is lacking (i.e., conditions of uncertainty). Furthermore, economic constraints limit the complexity of elements such as hardware, and the systems must be cheap enough for potential consumers to be willing to pay for them.

Research conducted at the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology and published in the International Journal of Robotics Research presents a theoretical and computational breakthrough in this context: the simplification of planning problems and decision-making under uncertainty in a way that reduces the amount of data that the computer is required to analyze.

The study was headed by Professor Vadim Indelman, head of the Autonomous Navigation and Perception Lab (ANPL) in the Faculty of Aerospace Engineering, and Khen Elimelech, who recently completed his doctorate in the Technion Autonomous Systems Program (TASP).

Prof. Vadim Indelman

Prof. Vadim Indelman

“We demonstrate that we can significantly reduce computation time, without harming the successful execution of the task,” explained the researchers. “We also demonstrate that computation efforts can be reduced even further if we accept a certain loss in performance – loss that our approach can evaluate online. In an age of self-driving cars and other robots, this is an approach likely to enable autonomous online decision-making in challenging scenarios, reduce response times, and achieve considerable savings in the cost of hardware and other resources.”

Prof. Indelman’s research deals with autonomous decision making under uncertainty – a fundamental problem in AI and robotics. This capability is particularly essential for autonomous agents that are required to perform reliably over time, under conditions of uncertainty and in a changing environment. Furthermore, in many cases the agent does not have direct access to the problem’s state variables, and it functions based on a probability distribution or “belief”. This belief reflects the knowledge that the agent possesses about itself and its environment, based on probabilistic models, actions performed, and measurements obtained from its sensors.

Khen Elimelech

Khen Elimelech

One of the key directions explored by the research group is computationally efficient decision-making under these conditions, also known as “belief space planning” (BSP). Solving this problem (i.e., calculating the entire set of optimal actions or policies necessary to achieve the goal) requires that potential actions be evaluated under a reward or cost function, such as the distance to the goal or an “uncertainty” measure. According to the researchers, this challenge requires the prediction of how the “belief” will develop in the future for different possible actions, while predicting different future scenarios. As a result, decision-making under these conditions is computationally costly, which challenges the autonomous action of intelligent agents in real time. Additionally, in problems with numerous state variables (for example, when the environment changes or is not known in advance), the computational challenge is even greater. All the above are accompanied by economic considerations, time constraints, and computation time, which mandate a reduction in the necessary computational resources. Therefore, the simplification of decision-making under uncertainty problems is an important goal in these research directions.

Prof. Indelman’s research group refers to all these aspects in the development of simplification approaches, which enable these problems to be solved in a way that is more computationally efficient, for example, through the sparsification of matrices. Crucially, these approaches are accompanied with performance guarantees that quantify the worst-case degradation in performance as a result of the simplification process; such guarantees are of key importance in safety-critical applications such as autonomous driving.

The researchers’ findings lay the foundations for solving decision-making problems through simplification and demonstrate that these approaches are able to lead to considerable savings in computation times, without significant loss in terms of outcomes.

Recently, it was announced that doctoral student Khen Elimelech, who led the study, will receive the Outstanding Ph.D. Research Award, The Israeli Smart Transportation Research Center (ISTRC).

The ANPL team

The ANPL team

The study was sponsored by the Israel Science Foundation.

For the full article in the International Journal of Robotics Research click here.

 

On June 30th, 2022, we held the graduation ceremony of the Technion’s 93rd cohort, awarding 1869 students with their university degrees; 40% of the graduates were women. Our guest of honor, Dr. Albert Bourla, Chairman and CEO of Pfizer, gave the commencement speech. The graduation ceremony was preceded by the Honorary Doctorate Conferment Ceremony for Dr. Bourla.

Watch the full graduation and honorary doctorate ceremony:

Dr. Bourla’s commencement speech:

To watch the film on Dr. Bourla we aired at his Honorary Doctorate Conferment Ceremony on June 30, 2022, click here (a subtitled film is also available):

On June 26, the Henry and Marilyn Taub Faculty of Computer Science held its Project Fair at the Technion, with the participation of dozens of undergraduate students. Diverse projects in various fields were presented under the following categories: Internet of Things (IoT), Android applications, software engineering, and computer communications.

Many of the projects at the fair – led by Itai Dabran and Tom Sofer of the Interdisciplinary Center for Smart Technologies (ICST) in computer science – utilize various technologies to benefit society; for example, a smart hospital bed that warns of the danger of falling off, a swimming prosthesis for amputees, a system for organizing clothes sold in second-hand stores, a robot that solves a Rubik’s cube based on voice commands, a home monitoring app for air pollution, and apps to support various non-profits.

ערכה לימודים המשלבת רובוטיקה ותאטרון בובות

 Where theater meets robotics 

Elinor Ginzburg, a student who volunteered for a time in the Neurosurgery Department at Rambam Health Care Campus, learned that brain surgery and related treatments often cause blurring and confusion. As a result, patients sometimes try to climb over the bed railings and fall off. Together with Leon Kosarev and Tomer Ron, Elinor developed a system that provides medical staff with advance warning of such dangerous attempts.

מיטה המונעת נפילות מאושפזים עם פגיעה נוירולוגית

Warning doctors of potential falloffs

Students Noor Shbat and Nawal Sheikh have developed a system that analyzes the performance of Olympic surfers and provides data analysis to help them win. The system is built on sensors and computerized analysis of the information received and operates even in places with no cellular reception. It was developed in collaboration with the Wingate Institute and the Faculty of Biomedical Engineering.

Students Nadav Kiri, Ben Shani, and Noa Rosenthal developed a smart prosthesis that helps amputees swim, using sensors that detect the position of the arm and a neural network that learns the user’s behavior.

רובוט הפותר קובייה הונגרית בעזרת פקודות קוליות

Robot solving Rubik’s cube 

Dina Alexandrovich, Racheli Chepovetsky, and Maya Stein developed an app that helps run second-hand clothing stores. The app allows you to enter any incoming item into the system, manage inventory, and allow customers to easily find the clothes they want.

The Technion Social Hub, which specializes in research and education for technological involvement in the community, collaborated with the Interdisciplinary Center for Smart Technologies on five projects. They included “Paamonim,” a system for managing employees at the social non-profit; an app that helps collect electronic equipment for recycling; a communication board that helps people with cerebral palsy; a support system for the “Women’s Courtyard,” a multicultural space for at-risk girls and women; and an IoT system to support the disabled and visually impaired at the Migdal-Or factory. This system was also incorporated into one of the students’ final projects as part of “Seeds of Innovation” in the Faculty of Industry and Management.

תמונה כללית של היריד

For the full list of projects: click here

Dr. Albert Abraham Bourla, Pfizer Chairman and CEO, received an honorary doctorate yesterday from the President of the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, Professor Uri Sivan, during the graduation ceremony of 1,869 Technion undergraduates. Dr. Bourla received the award “in acknowledgment of his exceptional leadership in advancing the rapid development of a safe and effective vaccine against COVID-19; with gratitude for spearheading this monumental feat in the face of a global crisis; and in admiration of his steadfast commitment and pioneering ingenuity, which embodies the highest values and standards of excellence in scientific innovation.”

Technion President Prof. Uri Sivan said: “As Chairman and CEO of the Board of Pfizer Inc., Dr. Bourla headed the trailblazing effort to develop a vaccine against the novel coronavirus. The development of the COVID-19 vaccine is an extraordinary biotechnological achievement that exemplifies the importance of science and multidisciplinary research. The vaccine helped rescue the world from the crisis that began at the end of 2019, with the epidemic outbreak. Dr. Bourla’s family history, as a son of Holocaust survivors from Thessaloniki, is a symbol of the remarkable vitality of the Jewish people and their renewal capacity in the wake of the Holocaust.”

Dr. Bourla addressed the students in a moving and inspiring speech. “As a scientist and a Jew, I can’t overstate how much it means to me to receive this degree and to be invited to address this year’s graduating class. Since first opening its doors in 1924, the Technion has been a beacon of light not only for Israel, but for the entire world. The story of the Technion, like that of my company, Pfizer, is one of innovation, but also of courage and optimism – all of which have helped give birth to technological and scientific breakthroughs aimed at making the world a better place.

ד"ר אלברט בורלא נושא דברים בטקס הבוגרים

“Innovation, courage, and optimism are three things that define my colleagues at Pfizer. It took courage to make the counterintuitive decision to use mRNA technology in the COVID-19 vaccine we developed with BioNTech. This courage not only helped us deliver a safe and effective vaccine in only nine months, but it may also prove to be an important step in unlocking the great promise that the technology holds for many other therapeutic areas, including cancer and rare disease. Our successful vaccine journey showed us we can make the impossible possible – and our colleagues are now taking this newfound optimism to their work in other areas.”

He ended by citing human ingenuity, compassion, and courage, as values for the graduates to aspire and hold on to. “As you approach the many alternatives that lie ahead in your journey, always remember to aim high, be resilient, and remain optimistic in all you do. If you do, you just might be surprised with what you can accomplish – and the lives you will impact.”

ד"ר אלברט בורלא (משמאל) ונשיא הטכניון פרופ' אורי סיון בתהלוכה האקדמית

Dr. Albert Abraham Bourla was born in Thessaloniki in 1961 to a Jewish family, part of which perished in the Holocaust. His family, who arrived in Greece from Spain following the Alhambra Decree, dealt in jewelry and diamonds, and their business spread across many countries. The Thessaloniki Jewish community, once the largest in Greece, had a population of approximately 80,000 in the 1930s. Approximately two-thirds of them perished in the Holocaust.

Dr. Bourla completed all his academic degrees at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki and holds a Ph.D. in veterinary medicine and reproductive biotechnology. In 1993 he joined Pfizer, one of the world’s leading biopharmaceutical companies, where he went on to hold a series of positions. He oversaw antibody development and served as Group President of VOC – Pfizer’s Global Vaccines, Oncology, and Consumer Healthcare business. In October 2018 he was appointed Pfizer’s Chief Operating Officer, in 2019, he was appointed CEO, and in 2020 he became Chairman of the company.

In recent years, Dr. Bourla has led Pfizer in strengthening ties with technology companies and in adopting technologies such as artificial intelligence. At the beginning of 2020, following the global outbreak of the COVID-19 epidemic, he harnessed most of the company’s resources to develop a vaccine, meeting challenging schedules. Throughout the process, Dr. Bourla promised there would be no compromise regarding the safety of the vaccine, and approval was obtained after an extensive study that included more than 40,000 subjects.

An honorary doctorate is the highest honor bestowed by the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology upon the few who distinguished themselves through their outstanding scientific work or their leadership and public service to the benefit of Israel, the Jewish people, and humanity at large. Some notable examples include Chaim Weizmann (1952), Albert Einstein (1953), Niels Bohr (1958), David Ben Gurion (1962), Yitzhak Rabin (1990), Margaret Thatcher (1989) and Dr. Angela Merkel (2021).

To recap the events, award ceremonies, and inaugurations of our June 2022 Board of Governors meeting, we issued a special edition of our English newsletter, “Technion LIVE.”

After more than two years of disruptive pandemic, we were delighted to host our board of governors meeting on campus. Entitled “Science & Innovation for a Sustainable Future,” the weeklong event featured an exclusive tech summit, kickoff of the Technion’s centennial celebrations, meetings with students and faculty, as well as off-campus tours.

To read all about it, check out the June edition of our e-newsletter, Technion LIVE.

To subscribe, click here; past issues of our e-newsletter can be found here.

 

Our 2022 President’s Report is available online, here.

Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, Rambam Health Care Campus, and philanthropists Andi and Larry Wolfe announced the establishment of the Wolfe Center for Translational Medicine and Engineering on Sunday, June 12. The Center will combine engineering and medicine to promote new technologies for the benefit of human health.

The Wolfe Center will bring the partnership between Rambam and the Technion to new heights and serve as a platform for extensive and in-depth clinical applied research. The Center will foster collaboration between physicians, scientists, and engineers. The interdisciplinary teams will work together on real problems from bench to bedside, translate research insights into innovative therapeutic tools and train the next generation of doctors and engineers to work together in a joint effort to improve the lives of millions of people worldwide. The technologies that will be developed within the framework of the Center will be designed to address unmet clinical needs. These innovations will be examined in the clinic and laboratories and rapidly implemented in the field as part of an overall concept of bringing scientific and technological developments closer to the patient.

The Wolfe Center for Translational Medicine and Engineering will be established in the Helmsley Health Discovery Tower, which is located within the Rambam campus and adjacent to the Technion’s Ruth and Bruce Rappaport Faculty of Medicine. The Tower is the first joint project of its kind between Rambam, academia, and the biomedical high-tech industry. The Tower will also include centers of excellence and clinical institutes such as the Leir Foundation Clinical Research Institute at Rambam and the Uzia Galil Innovation Center. It will also feature several floors for start-up companies, as well as an exhibition hall and visitor center.

(L-R): Larry Wolfe, Prof. MikI Halberthal, Andi Wolfe, Prof. Rafi Beyar, Prof. Uri Sivan, Dr. Esty Golan

(L-R): Larry Wolfe, Prof. Miki Halberthal, Andi Wolfe, Prof. Rafi Beyar, Prof. Uri Sivan, Dr. Esty Golan

Andi and Larry Wolfe are involved in supporting the Michigan-Israel Partnership for Research and Education, in which the Technion plays a central role. Over the last decade, the D. Dan and Betty Kahn Foundation (named for Andi’s parents and of which Larry is the President) have supported many vital initiatives at Rambam and the Technion, including the D. Dan and Betty Kahn Foundation Pediatric Pulmonary Institute, the D. Dan and Betty Kahn Foundation Center for Interventional Cardiology, and the D. Dan and Betty Kahn Foundation Mechanical School of Engineering. Larry Wolfe has been a member of the American Friends of Rambam Board of Directors for many years. Andi is a member of the Technion Board of Governors and on the National Board of Directors of the American Technion Society (ATS). Both Andi and Larry have also been involved in many other projects in Israel and in the State of Michigan.

“We are very proud and excited to be part of this transformational and collaborative research and innovation initiative between Rambam Health Care and the Technion,” Andi and Larry Wolfe said. “Our gift allows us to continue the legacy, vision and philanthropy of D. Dan and Betty Kahn in Israel.”

Technion President Professor Uri Sivan said, “Human health is one of the greatest challenges facing humanity in the 21st century and coping with this challenge requires a combination of capabilities from different worlds of content, from the patient’s bed and the doctors around it, to scientists and engineers from a variety of disciplines. Today, the Technion is creating a revolution aimed at connecting all those disciplines to deal with major challenges in human health, and the Wolfe Center will express the combination of the capabilities of one of Israel’s leading hospitals with a world-renowned scientific-technological university. We are grateful to Andi and Larry Wolfe for a long-standing partnership and for their contribution to enabling the establishment of the Center.”

General Director of Rambam Health Care Campus General Professor Miki Halberthal said, “Research and innovation are critical components in the success of the healthcare system in the 21st century. The tremendous contribution of the Wolfe family will enable us to increase our capabilities. Research is now a necessity for keeping Israeli doctors relevant in a competitive and constantly evolving field. The new center will allow us to convince doctors who are engaged in the difficult, demanding clinical field to continue to work in a large medical center, by providing opportunities for advanced research.”

The Technion is one of the few technological academic institutions in the world in which the Faculty of Medicine operates in conjunction with engineering and scientific faculties. The Ruth and Bruce Rappaport Faculty of Medicine was founded in 1969 with the vision and understanding that the future of medicine lies in its connection to science, engineering, and technology. Today, the Technion conducts extensive teaching and research activities in connection with the world of medicine and many fields of study including biomedical engineering, computing, design, and architecture.

The cooperation between the Rambam Medical Campus and the Technion, which began decades ago, has been very strong in recent years and is a promising platform for innovative technological applications. In August 2020, the Technion launched the Human Health Initiative, which connects researchers across various fields and faculties at the Technion to jointly address the challenges of contemporary medicine. The Larry and Andi Wolfe Center for Engineering and Medicine will play a crucial role in this endeavor.

The Rambam Health Care Campus is very active in the fields of research and innovation through its partnerships with its Division of Research, the Rambam MedTech (technology transfer company), the MindUp incubator in cooperation with IBM, Medtronic, and Pitango VC.

Professor Rafi Beyar, a physician and engineer by trade and former director of Rambam who also served as the dean of the Ruth and Bruce Rappaport Faculty of Medicine at the Technion, added, “The Wolfe Center for Medicine and Engineering in the Helmsley Health Discovery Tower is the realization of Rambam’s master plan to connect clinical medicine and academic research with an emphasis on engineering. The joint center will house Rambam physician-researchers, Technion academic researchers, data science experts, artificial intelligence, and machine learning. Bio-Convergence, which is at the forefront of Israeli Innovation, will be advanced at the Wolfe Center, connecting biology to engineering for the benefit of the patient and serving as fertile ground for strengthening the biomedical industry in Israel and around the world.”