Grapevine: Worth their weight in gold

The Hebrew University seems to be in the news a lot this week.

Hebrew University, Jerusalem_311 (photo credit: Thinkstock/Imagebank)
Hebrew University, Jerusalem_311
(photo credit: Thinkstock/Imagebank)
■ MK AND former IDF spokesperson Brig.-Gen (res.) Miri Regev and businessman Rami Levy, who owns a chain of supermarkets, celebrated Hanukka at the Jerusalem Soldiers’ House with lone soldiers – i.e., those who left their families in their countries of origin and came to serve in the IDF. The event was organized by the Jerusalem Association for Justice, headed by Calev Meirs. The soldiers received something a little more substantial than chocolate coins wrapped in gold foil.
■ THE HEBREW University seems to be in the news a lot this week. Prof. Eran Leitersdorf, dean of the Faculty of Medicine, was in Kathmandu as guest of honor and keynote speaker at the Kathmandu University graduation ceremony for students of medicine. While in Nepal, he met with the country’s president, Dr. Ram Baran Yadav.
Leitersdorf is a specialist in molecular genetics. Attending the ceremony, among others, were Nepal’s minister of education and other government ministers; Kathmandu University’s president; members of the university senate, as well as faculty deans, members of parliament and families of the graduates.
The Hebrew University has special ties to Kathmandu University and Dhulikhel Hospital, the university’s teaching hospital, via an international MA program in public health and designated courses conducted by the Hebrew University’s senior lecturers and professors of public health at Kathmandu University. This exchange has been taking place for several years and is assisted by scholarships from the Hebrew University, the Hadassah Medical Organization, private donors, the Pierce Fund and MASHAV, the Israel Foreign Ministry’s aid program.
Leitersdorf’s meeting with the president of Nepal was no coincidence. Yadav, who is also a medical doctor, was happy to hear about the way in which medicine is taught at the Hebrew University and Hadassah. He expressed great interest in the different academic programs and the possibility of expanding the training programs for Nepal’s students through the HU’s Faculty of Medicine. He was also interested in listening to Leitersdorf’s suggestions regarding the upgrading of the public health system in Nepal based on Israeli models.
Notwithstanding a busy schedule, Yadav dedicated an hour for the meeting with Leitersdorf and discussed not only the current state of medicine in his country and the complex political issues stemming from the need to provide medical treatment to more than 28 million citizens, many of whom reside a great distance from the medical centers, but also about the possibility of expanding relations between the two universities.
Yadav also voiced appreciation for the extensive assistance of the Israeli Embassy in Nepal, including plans for developing Nepal’s agriculture and water system.
While in Kathmandu, Leitersdorf also gave a lecture about “translational” medicine, emphasizing the need to implement research-based discoveries for Nepal’s special medical needs and developing the academic aspect of medicine in the country. Part of the lecture dealt with the essence of medical research, with illustrations from Israel, adding details on the fundamental difference between basic research and implementation research and the need to develop both fields.
■ IN OTHER Hebrew University news, Prof. Orit Kedar of the Department of Political Science was this week the recipient of the President’s Prize for an Outstanding Young Researcher. The prize, awarded in memory of Prof. Yoram Ben-Porath, a former president and rector of HU, was presented to Kedar by HU president Menahem Ben-Sasson.
Kedar previously won the Noxon Toppan Award for Best Dissertation in Political Science at Harvard University. This was followed by appointments less than five years later at MIT and the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. Last year she won a research grant of more than one million euros from the European Research Council.
Her book Voting for Policy, Not Parties: How Voters Compensate for Power Sharing was published in 2009 by Cambridge University Press and won the American Political Science Association’s Riker Award for best book in political economy.
Kedar joined the Hebrew University in July 2009 as an associate professor in the Political Science Department. At the university, she studies comparative politics in general and electoral politics in particular, with a current research focus on the relationship between electoral districts and representation, as well as on coalition governments.
She teaches classes on comparative politics, electoral politics, political institutions and the European Union.
According to Ben-Sasson, Kedar is a symbol of excellence and innovation in academic research. Prof. Avner de-Shalit, dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences, said that Kedar has an ambitious and bold approach to research that has earned her much attention and appreciation throughout the world
■ AND ONE last item about the Hebrew University: Prof. Gadi Wolfsfeld of the political science and journalism departments is retiring. In tribute to his scholarship and the legacy that he is leaving behind him, his colleagues have organized a conference on Political Communication in Israel and in the International Arena. Most of the participants, including academics who will present papers, are from the Hebrew University, but there are also speakers from Tel Aviv University and the University of Haifa.
In addition, there are three American speakers: Prof. Joshua Meyrowitz, University of New Hampshire; Prof. Scott Althaus, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign; and Prof. Robert Entman, George Washington University.
Wolfsfeld has been a visiting professor at several American universities. The conference will be held on January 4 from 9.15 a.m. at Beit Maiersdorf, Hebrew University Mount Scopus campus.