HU fetes innovators’ commercial achievements

University marking National Science Day with informal ‘Professors in Slippers’ presentations.

March 12, 2012 05:48
3 minute read.
PROF. YECHEZKEL Barenholtz and Prof. Alberto Gabiz

PROF. YECHEZKEL Barenholtz and Prof. Alberto Gabizon 370. (photo credit: JUDY SIEGEL)

For the first time, an Israeli university is celebrating its researcher innovators by setting up a permanent photo exhibition to showcase work that has led to commercial products on the market.

The “Innovators’ Way” was opened on Sunday morning in a sunny hallway in the Social Science Building on the Hebrew University’s Mount Scopus campus.

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The idea, suggested by HU spokeswoman Orit Sulitzeanu, was launched to celebrate National Science Day, which will be held on March 14, the anniversary of the birth of Albert Einstein.

The exhibition showcases 27 researchers, ranging from younger scientists to those in their 90s, whose work at the university succeeded in improving the quality of life and human welfare worldwide in fields such as health, safety, environment and nutrition.

The attractive and imaginative photos, taken by Nati Shohat, feature the scientists posing with objects representing their work. The innovators were lauded by HU president Prof. Menahem Ben-Sasson; board of governors chairman Michael Federmann; Prof. Shay Arkin, the vice-president of research and development; Yaacov Michlin, CEO of the Yissum, the university’s technology transfer company; and representatives of the executive committee.

“If Israel is the start-up nation, then the Hebrew University is the start-up of the start-up nation,” said Ben-Sasson.

“So far, the university has registered approximately 7,000 patents protecting roughly 2,000 developments and inventions, and founded 72 companies based on some of those inventions.”

Among the products on the market are Exelon, a drug that slows the progression of Alzheimer’s disease developed by Prof. Marta Weinstock- Rosin; a system developed by Prof. Amnon Shashua that prevents accidents by warning drivers in real-time about dangerous conditions; cherry tomatoes and cluster tomatoes, now popular consumer products worldwide, that were developed by Prof. Nachum Kedar and Prof. Haim Rabinowitch; a delivery system for treating gum disease by releasing an antibacterial agent into the periodontal pockets that was developed by Profs. Michael Friedman, Michael Sela, Doron Steinberg and Aubrey Soskolne; Doxil, a chemotherapy drug developed by Profs. Yechezkel Barenholtz and Alberto Gabizon that is used around the world to fight various types of cancers; a technology that enables hours of security camera footage to be viewed in minutes developed by Prof.

Shmuel Peleg; an eye-drop therapy and an ointment for treating psoriasis developed by Prof.

Shabtay Dikstein; and a nanotechnology delivering drugs and treating skin disorders, such as herpes, developed by Prof. Elka Touitou.

Meanwhile, on Thursday, the university and the Jerusalem Municipality will celebrate National Science Day with an unusual event: Professors in Slippers, where the general public will be able to talk with 40 university researchers in intimate and informal settings such as faculty members’ homes, students’ apartments, college dorms and cultural venues throughout the city.

Some of the professors opening their homes to the public include prize-winning cancer researcher Prof. Howard Cedar, who will host a lecture at his home as a tribute to his son and Oscar nominee Joseph Cedar, the director of the film Footnote; Prof. Israel Yuval, whose talk is titled “Not Kosher for Passover: A Subversive Reading of the Haggadah”; psychology Prof.

Raz Yirmiya, who will speak about “a healthy mind in a healthy body” and “the relationship between body, mind and mental processes”; and Prof. Raz and Prof. Orna Kupferman, who will discuss “mathematics of the elementary school.”

All presentations are in Hebrew except for a special English event taking place at the Jerusalem Theater from 7 to 9 p.m., where Prof. Isaac Benabu from the Department of Theater Studies will present “Probing the Playwright’s Pen: Shakespeare’s Theatrical Writing.”

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