KKL-JNF Awards the Elkeles Prize in Medicine for 2011

Professor Yaakov Naparstek, Head of the Department of Internal Medicine at the Hadassah University Hospital at Ein Kerem, is the recipient of the Annual Samuel and Paula Elkeles Prize for 2011.

KKL_260911_E (photo credit: KKL-JNF)
(photo credit: KKL-JNF)
The Annual Samuel and Paula Elkeles prize is funded by the Elkeles foundation, a fund established thanks to a generous endowment left by the late Dr. Ludwig Elkeles to the State of Israel, through KKL-JNF. The prize, which is administered by KKL-JNF's Trust and Legacies Department, is awarded annually to a scientist excelling in the field of medicine. 
The prize giving ceremony was held in the auditorium at Hadassah Hospital in Ein Kerem.
At the ceremony, Dr. Benny Leshem from the Ministry of Health said that the decision to award this year's prize to Professor Naparstek was made after a difficult deliberation between eight outstanding candidates, all of whom are top scientists and researchers in Israel.
Professor Naparstek is credited with the establishment of the current evaluation unit for Internal Medicine at the Hadassah Medical Center, which was established on the basis of a new system of cooperation between the department heads specializing in various fields of Internal Medicine and the various Internal Medicine hospital wards.  This was done in order to allow more efficient involvement of specialists in patients' treatment when needed.  However, the most predominant reason for awarding the prize was the professor's recent research in effective treatment for auto-immune diseases, in which the immune system inflicts destructive activity upon organs in the body.  Such diseases include Lupus Disease, Rheumatoid Arthritis, and Juvenile Diabetes.  Clinical experiments for some of these treatments are already being conducted on human subjects.
In his speech at the awards ceremony, Professor Naparstek explained the KKLprinciples of the research he is conducting together with many other researchers at the Hadassah Ein Kerem Medical Center.   The research focuses on identifying the mechanisms responsible for the onset of these diseases,  determining the critical point at which these mechanisms appear,  and creating genetically - engineered antibodies that will act locally to halt the destructive action of these mechanisms.  Treatments for all three diseases developed by Professor Naparstek and his research team have already been proven successful in tests on animals, and clinical trials on humans have already begun.  If the clinical trials are successful, they will enable a cure, or at least significant relief, for patients suffering from these diseases.   
Harry Elyashiv, who is a relative of Dr. Ludwig Elkeles as well as the accountant responsible for his bequest, spoke briefly at the ceremony about the life of Dr. Ludwig Elkeles, who established the fund in memory of his parents, Samuel and Paula Elkeles.  Ludwig Elkeles and his parents, originally from Berlin, left Germany for England in 1936, following the Nazi takeover of Germany.  After World War II, Ludwig, an economist, returned to Germany with his wife, whom he had met in England and who was also of German descent.   He felt a strong connection to the young State of Israel and was keenly interested in what occurred there. He visited the country several times in order to gain a personal impression of the country's development. Towards the end of his life, he bequeathed money to his wife in order to allow her to continue living comfortably, and requested that the rest of his personal assets be donated to causes that promote projects for the benefit of the public in Israel.
"After thoroughly assessing the possibilities, Dr. Elkeles came to the conclusion that KKL-JNF would be a trustworthy partner for his contribution," explained Harry Elyashiv. "Following his decision, a campground and playground were built in the Jerusalem Forest, a lookout point was built at Kadesh Barnea on the road between Nitzana and Eilat, and a generous contribution was made towards the rehabilitation of Mitzpeh Gvulot in the Negev where my wife and I lived for many years."  Elkeles also asked that a fund be established in memory of his parents that would award an annual prize for medical research.
Shamai Kenan, a member of the Board of Directors of KKL-JNF, opened the ceremony and began his remarks by expressing regret that the State of Israel is blessed with excellent medical care, but has not found a proper way to compensate its doctors and medical specialists for their superb work. Kenan explained that the Elkeles Prize is awarded within the framework of the KKL-JNF funding project.  The project incorporates the bequeathments of Jews from all over the world.  Each fund is designated for a specific purpose and handled according to the benefactor's request as stated in his or her will.  Kenan spoke briefly about the various activities of KKL-JNF throughout the country, and expressed a wish for the welfare of Israeli citizens. 
"KKL-JNF sites are open freely to the public, and express the values of the country, the preservation of the environment, and love of the land.  Perhaps we can avoid people being hospitalized if we learned to utilize our leisure time and devote it to physical activities and enjoyment of the nature sites and paths throughout the country."
Professor Shlomo Mor-Yosef, Director of the Hadassah Medical Center at Ein Kerem, stated in his remarks that Hadassah is honored by the awarding of the prize to Professor Naparstek, whose activities include not only research but clinical and organizational work as well.  His work has included the establishment of the Department for Internal Medicine at the medical center.  Professor Mor-Yosef particularly noted Professor Naparstek's support for young researchers and his integration of basic and clinical research.
In his speech, Professor Yaakov Naparstek expressed concern regarding the future of medical research in Israel.  Professor Naparstek explained that fewer young doctors are pursuing research in the medical field – a fact which emphasizes the need for further advancement of medical research in Israel. 
Professor Naparstek is the 24th recipient of the Annual Samuel and Paula Elkenes Research Prize.  Members of the prize committee include Professor Avi Yisraeli, Head Scientist of the Ministry of Health; Professor Tzvi Stern, Director of Hadassah Hospital on Mount Scopus; Accountant Harry Elyashiv, and Dr. Benny Leshem from the Ministry of Health.
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Ahuva Bar-Lev
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