Sheba’s top 10 achievements of 2020

The list focuses not only on COVID-19, but Sheba’s spectacular adventure into space and more.

 (photo credit: SHEBA'S COURTESY)
(photo credit: SHEBA'S COURTESY)
The medical world was turned upside down when the COVID-19 pandemic jumped from China and spread across the world in early 2020. Sheba Medical Center was alerted to the approaching viral storm and prepared conventional and unconventional responses to this silent enemy, using an array of innovative technologies, which has made and continues to make headlines around the world.

The on-going battle against COVID-19 did not prevent Sheba’s nearly 1,700 doctors from performing their regular day-to-day duties, using a combination of telemedicine and in-person visitations, to treat a wide range of patients.

Our 2020 “Top 10” list focuses on many elements revolving around COVID-19, as well as Sheba’s spectacular adventure into space, historical accord with a leading investment company in the United Arab Emirates and moving up the NEWSWEEK Top 10 Best Hospitals in the World List.

1. World’s Firsts & COVID 19- Sheba had a month to prepare for COVID-19. And not a minute was wasted, as teams of doctors and nurses collaborated with Sheba’s renowned ARC innovation center to create an array of ground-breaking telemedicine solutions to treat corona patients from a distance. In addition, Sheba’s infrastructure team literally performed miraculous makeovers… converting ramshackle off-campus living quarters into a first-class corona quarantine unit…transforming an underground parking lot into a Critical Care Corona Unit in less than a week…and creating first in the world corona maternity and psychiatric units.

2. Newsweek Top 10-For the second year in a row, Sheba Medical Center was tabbed by Newsweek magazine as one of the Top 10 Best Hospitals in the World, moving up from #10 to #9. The rankings are based on recommendations from global medical professionals, results from patient surveys and key medical performance indicators.

3. Historic agreement with the UAE-Sheba Medical Center became the first medical facility in Israeli history to sign an MOU with APEX, a renowned investment company in the UAE (Abu Dhabi). The agreement was the culmination of a year-long effort by Prof. Yitshak Kreiss, Dir. Gen. of Sheba Medical Center to forge a relationship with the Gulf region in the aftermath of his trip to the “Peace to Prosperity” conference in Bahrain last year. Prof. Kreiss outlined his vision for peace and prosperity through healthcare in a front page interview with the New York Times on September 14.

4. Sheba in Space-In early September, Sheba became the first Israeli hospital and one of only a handful in the world, to launch a scientific mission into space. Prof. Ohad Gal-Mor, Head of Sheba’s Infectious Diseases Research Laboratory, placed E Coli Bacteria aboard SpacePharma’s DIDO3 spacelab in order to find a solution to the growing resistance to antibiotics, which has global ramifications. Prof. Gal-Mor believes that the data from the mission will yield a potential solution.

5. Sheba & IDF Unit 81-When the first COVID-19 wave hit in February, the Sheba campus became a bustling “laboratory”, where secret units from the IDF’s military intelligence collaborated with doctors in order to find novel solutions. Within a month, the IDF’s hush-hush “81” unit, along with scientists and doctors from the ARC innovation center, retrofitted non-invasive respirators, into an invasive breathing device for critically ill corona patients.

6. Innovative Cancer Treatments- At the Ella Lemelbaum Institute for Immuno-Oncology a small team of oncologists in tandem with Immunicom, an American med-tech company, tested a novel treatment whereby they took cancer patients who did not respond to standard cancer meds and hooked them up to a device that filtered out a protein blocker in the body. The hope is that Stage 4 cancer patients, who underwent the Immunicom procedure will be able to restart their failed past treatments and live, longer lives..

7. Sheba & the NIH-Sheba signed an historic “Emergency Agreement” with America’s renowned National Institute of Health (NIH) to conduct applied scientific and clinical research in the hunt for treatments that will end the global COVID-19 pandemic. During the course of the pandemic in Israel, Sheba supplied the NIH’s Vaccine Research Center with blood samples, plasma and the COVID-19 virus itself from infected patients. The NIH supported Sheba’s research on COVID-19 in order to accelerate the process into researching, understanding, and finding the most effective treatments and vaccines.

8. COVID-19 Treatments & Vaccines-In November, Sheba began phased trials on promising COVID-19 treatments & vaccines. Merck worked with Sheba on an oral anti-viral treatment to battle the disease. In addition, Sheba became the focal point for vaccine created by the secret Israel Institute for Biological Research in Ness Ziona. The various clinical trials, which are being tested on hundreds of patients, will run well into 2021. Only after thorough evaluation of the vaccines efficacy, will we all know if the battle against COVID-19 can be won in 2021.

9. COVID-19 Tech Breakthroughs-The ARC innovation at Sheba issued a “battle cry” to Israeli start-ups and the IDF to think way outside the box and create technological solutions to confront COVID-19 and save lives. A myriad of on-going, fascinating “pilot programs” are being tested at Sheba. For example, a team from Intel Israel has been testing an AI program to predict which corona patients might deteriorate quickly, while Ness Ziona-based Newsight, recalibrated one of their devices using spectral technology and transformed it into a successful rapid COVID-19 test. ARC entered into an agreement with Newsight to spinoff a company called Virusight Diagnostics to accelerate development of this unique technology.

10. Sheba at AIPAC-For the first time ever, Sheba Medical Center participated in the annual AIPAC convention, which took place this past February in Washington, DC. Thousands of AIPAC attendees from all over North America flocked to Sheba’s impressive display, which highlighted an interactive ARC Innovation Center multi-media tower and a field hospital, where live emergency demonstrations were performed by members of the humanitarian medical team. Dr. Eyal Zimlichman, Chief Medical & Innovation Officer, who founded ARC, was also featured as a prominent speaker at the Opening Ceremony.

AIPAC attendees flocked to our Field Hospital tent
(photo credit: SHEBA'S COURTESY)
This article was written in cooperation with Sheba Medical Center.