Live From Technion Webinars

The Live From Technion: Webinars with Technion Experts series is a weekly presentation designed to help inform and inspire our community in this time of uncertainty. Each session features the  great research coming out of the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology.

Could a Vaccine for Shrimp Help in the Fight Against COVID-19?

with Professor Avi Schroeder

Thursday, March 9

Whether it is the novel coronavirus behind the global COVID-19 pandemic, or one that causes a devastating disease in shrimp, all viruses require certain proteins in order to pass from one cell to another. Stopping the production of those proteins will effectively stop the virus.

In this special webinar, Technion Professor Avi Schroeder will talk about how synthesizing a molecule called siRNA, and using it to replace naturally occurring RNA molecules, has proven effective in stopping the highly destructive white spot virus from passing from one cell to another in shrimp. According to Prof. Schroeder, it could be possible to apply the same technology to help in the fight against COVID-19.

Technion Professor Avi Schroeder is an associate professor and a member of the Wolfson Faculty of Chemical Engineering at the Technion. He leads the Laboratory for Targeted Drug Delivery & Personalized Medicine Technologies.

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How Emotions and Stressful Thoughts Affect Your Health

with Professor Asya Rolls

Wednesday, March 25

Why is it that at least one-third of patients in medical trials get better with placebos? Many scientists are now connecting the dots. Neuroscience has shown that every thought and emotion triggers specific brain activity that can be measured and manipulated.

In this special webinar, made more relevant in these anxious times, Technion Professor Asya Rolls will talk about her research in understanding how one’s positive thoughts and expectations may impact the body’s ability to fight off germs. In one study, she showed that the release of the so-called “feel-good neurotransmitter” dopamine disabled tumor-promoting cells in the immune system of mice, allowing them to fight cancer.

Technion Professor Asya Rolls is an associate professor in the Technion Rappaport Faculty of Medicine and an International Howard Hughes Medical Institute-Wellcome investigator. An expert in sleep deprivation and brain research, Prof. Rolls studies the physiological mechanisms by which emotions and thoughts affect physical health.

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The Quest to Develop New Antimicrobial Drugs

with Professor Noam Adir and special guest, Professor Alon Wolf

Wednesday, April 1

Technion Professor Noam Adir’s creativity knows no bounds. He has invented spinach-powered electricity cells, as well as technology to harvest energy from photosynthetic bacteria found in ponds.

In this webinar, Prof. Adir will talk about his equally exciting biomedical research, studying proteins that can serve as targets for novel drug development. He and his research team use X-ray crystallography to determine the 3D structure and function of biologically important molecules on the atomic level, a critical tool in finding new treatments. They have deposited nearly 50 structures in the Protein Data Bank, which archives the 3D structures of biological molecules found in all organisms from bacteria to humans.

Technion Professor Noam Adir holds the Bertha Hertz-Axel Chair in Chemistry in the Schulich Faculty of Chemistry at the Technion. His research focuses on the relationship between the 3D structure of proteins, such as enzymes, and their function.

Technion Campus Update with Professor Alon Wolf

Professor Alon Wolf will be joining to give an update about research and the campus-wide measures being taken both for students and professors in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Prof. Wolf is Vice President for External Relations & Resource Development. A renowned researcher and entrepreneur, he has pioneered new frontiers in robotic technologies, and is the founder and director of the Biorobotics and Biomechanics Lab (BRML) in the Technion Faculty of Mechanical Engineering.

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Cell Death: The Key to Regrowth of Fingers and Combating the Coronavirus

with Assistant Professor Yaron Fuchs, Ph.D. ’10 and special guest, Yehuda Sabiner, MD ’19

Tuesday, April 7

Could insights about cell death lead to better ways to contain viral infections, and serve as the basis for new drug development? According to Technion alumnus and Assistant Professor Yaron Fuchs, Ph.D. ’10, they just might. While scientists have long studied stem cell rejuvenation, Prof. Fuchs had the courage and insight to follow a new direction. Looking at the flip side of stem cell renewal — death, he broke new, unexplored ground that is leading to novel insights and strategies in tissue regeneration, including recovery processes in the intestines, hair growth, treatments for cancer and other diseases, and even the potential regrowth of organs.

Join us to hear Prof. Fuchs discuss his life-changing work, and about how he and his lab are dealing with the global COVID-19 pandemic. It’s all part of the Technion Impact, the incredible and incomparable effect that the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology has had on Israel and the world.

Technion Professor Yaron Fuchs heads the Laboratory of Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine in the Faculty of Biology, and is a faculty member at both the Technion Integrated Cancer Center and the Lorry I. Lokey Interdisciplinary Center for Life Sciences & Engineering. He holds the Deloro Career Advancement Chair in the Leaders of Science and Technology program and is also associated with the Russell Berrie Nanotechnology Institute.

A Briefing From the Frontlines

Yehuda Sabiner, MD ’19, will kick off the webinar with a briefing from the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic in Israel. In addition to caring for patients at The Chaim Sheba Medical Center Tel HaSHomer, Dr. Sabiner is also leading outreach to the Orthodox community to ensure that the social isolation measures currently in place to contain COVID-19 are adhered to.

Dr. Yehuda Sabiner is a graduate of the Technion’s Rappaport Faculty of Medicine. He is the first Israeli-born member of the ultra-Orthodox community to graduate from medical school.

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How Postdocs at the Jacobs Institute’s Runway Program are Tackling COVID-19

with Ron Brachman, Server Ertem, Rebecca Brachman, and Tomer Morad ’01, Ph.D. ’15

Monday, April 13

What happens when industry intersects academia? Join Ron Brachman, director of the Joan & Irwin Jacobs Technion-Cornell Institute housed at Cornell Tech in New York City, for this special webinar. Learn about the unique collaboration that has led to 28 startups incubated at the Jacobs Institute’s Runway Startup Postdoc Program, and the many Runway Fellows who are tackling the coronavirus pandemic.

Hear from Runway Fellows Server A. Ertem and Rebecca Anne Brachman, who are developing a test to determine if a patient has developed sufficient immunity against the coronavirus to safely return to public life. In addition, Tomer Morad ’’01, Ph.D. ’15, a graduate of both the Runway Program and the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, will share news about his latest venture.

The Jacobs Institute is aimed at applying innovative science and technology to address the world’s most pressing needs. It is no wonder that its entrepreneurs are leaders in the fight against COVID-19, one of the greatest global challenges of the modern era.

About the Speakers:
  • Ron Brachman is responsible for all programming at the Jacobs Technion-Cornell Institute, an experimental graduate school created by a partnership between the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology and Cornell University. An expert in artificial intelligence, he has built an outstanding career at institutions including Bell Labs, AT&T Labs, DARPA and Yahoo Labs.
  • Server Ertem is founder and CEO of Katena Oncology, whose cancer detection tool is being adapted to fight COVID-19. He received his Ph.D. in cancer biology from Weill Cornell Medicine/Memorial Sloan-Kettering Institute and a postdoctoral degree in immune-oncology at MSKCC.
  • Rebecca Brachman is a neuroscientist focusing on preventative psychopharmacology, a field aimed at developing drugs to prevent mental illness. She earned her Ph.D. from Columbia University, was a fellow at the National Institutes of Health, and is co-founder and director of the Social Outcomes Initiative.
  • Tomer Morad ’01, Ph.D. ’15, is a serial entrepreneur with more than 15 years of experience in the high-tech industry. Currently, he is CEO and co-founder of the AI-powered optimization software provider Concertio.

Looking to History for Solutions to Modern Pandemics

with Professor Efraim Lev

Thursday, April 23

History is no stranger to global pandemics. Greek soldiers were hit with a deadly influenza in 430 B.C.E., the earliest recorded pandemic. Europe and Asia were decimated by the Black Death in the 1300s; cholera ran rampant in the 19th century; and HIV/AIDS afflicted modern times. Each has taught us something about how to manage their spread.

Professor Efraim Lev has mined the sacred Cairo Genizah manuscripts to investigate medical practices in Jewish Medieval Egypt. And, he is building a medical library of ancient physicians and pharmacists. In this webinar, Professor Lev will discuss how civilizations of the past have dealt with epidemics and plagues.

Trained as both an historian and a field biologist, Efraim Lev is head of the Department of Humanities and Arts at the Technion, and an expert in the history of medicine and pharmacology in the Middle East, particularly the sacred Jewish manuscripts known as the Cairo Genizah. His academic work has a strong, interdisciplinary bent that has led to new historical insights.

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The Israeli Advantage in Conquering COVID-19: Technion Alumnus Leads Innovative Approaches

with Eyal Zimlichman, MD ’98

May 7, 2020

If the coronavirus pandemic has underscored one message, it’s that the world is one big global village. We can no longer work in our own silos as stock market fluctuations, climate change, and pandemics affect us all.

In this special webinar, Technion alumnus Dr. Eyal Zimlichman will address this interconnectedness and Israel’s efforts in developing solutions for the global healthcare marketplace. Dr. Zimlichman heads the ARC Center at world-leading Sheba Medical Center (Tel Ha’Shomer Hospital) in Israel, where entrepreneurs from digital healthcare startups work collaboratively with hospital staff to advance medical innovation on all fronts, including combatting the coronavirus.

Webinar moderator Anat Feinberg, National Director of Alumni Relations U.S. at the American Technion Society, will speak about the global reach of Technion graduates and the Technion alumni program in the U.S.

Eyal Zimlichman, MD ’98 is the chief medical officer and chief innovation officer at Sheba Medical Center in Israel, and the founding director of the ARC Center, which stands for “Accelerate, Redesign, Collaborate.” His work aims to redesign health care through digital health solutions by 2030. He was named as one of “Israel’s 100 Most Influential People This Jewish Year” by Israel’s leading financial newspaper, TheMarker, in 2019. Dr. Zimlichman earned his medical degree at the Technion.

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The Israeli Advantage in Conquering COVID-19: Technion Alumnus Leads Innovative Approaches

with Professors Josué Sznitman and Moran Bercovici

May 13, 2020

Israel is at the forefront in the fight against COVID-19 and Technion scientists are playing a key role in developing everything from diagnostic testing and protective gear to innovative therapeutics.

In this informative webinar, Technion Professor Moran Bercovici will talk about how his microfluidics research could lead to point-of-care testing to detect the coronavirus. Prof. Bercovici and his team have developed methods for direct detection of biomarkers, without requiring time-consuming sample cleanup and amplification. They are now applying these methods to detecting the coronavirus, with the aim of creating a test that could be completed, from sample to answer, in just minutes.

For patients already diagnosed with COVID-19, Technion Professor Josué Sznitman and his team are developing an innovative technology that could dramatically improve the efficacy of existing drugs for treating Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS), the leading cause of death in COVID-19 patients. Their Liquid Foam Therapy (LIFT) aims to improve the distribution of surfactants, liquids that coat the surface of the lungs’ air sacs and reduce the energy required for breathing. It’s been shown that COVID-19 depletes the secretion of surfactants, a condition which Prof. Sznitman’s team believes is particularly severe in ARDS.

About the Speakers:
  • Associate Professor Moran Bercovici heads the Microfluidic Technologies Laboratory in the Technion Faculty of Mechanical Engineering. An aeronautical engineer by training, he is best known for his research into the lab-on-a-chip, which integrates several analyses that are usually done in the laboratory. Prof. Bercovici is now applying his research to developing a rapid test for the coronavirus. Read more about the funding opportunity for this project.
  • Associate Professor Josué Sznitman heads the Technion Biofluids Laboratory in the Faculty of Biomedical Engineering and is the director of the Norman Seiden Multidisciplinary Graduate Program in Nanoscience and Nanotechnology in the Russell Berrie Nanotechnology Institute. His research focuses on groundbreaking bioengineered lung models for respiratory disease characterization and therapeutic screening, and delivering innovative approaches that break away from traditional models and methods of pulmonary drug delivery. Prof. Sznitman is employing his innovative pulmonary drug delivery system to develop treatments for COVID-19 patients suffering from acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). Read more about the funding opportunity for this project.
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Betting on Out-Of-The-Box Ideas to Fight COVID-19

with Professors Marcelle Machluf and Ezri Tarazi

May 20, 2020

Professor Marcelle Machluf is using trickery to try to trap the coronavirus, and Professor Ezri Tarazi has created an air shield to protect health care workers. Join our upcoming webinar to hear these maverick professors from the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology talk about their innovative work in the fight against the SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

Prof. Machluf achieved acclaim by modifying mesenchymal stem cells into so-called NanoGhosts that deliver drugs directly to cancerous tumors, killing them from within. At the time scientific journals thought her research, which showed the NanoGhosts reduced tumor size by 85%, was too good to be true. Today, she is adapting that successful technology to create decoy NanoGhosts that attract and entrap the coronavirus, making for a less severe infection.

Prof. Tarazi is a renowned industrial designer who last year used a 3D printer to create the world’s first artificial coral reefs to restore the ocean’s ecosystem. He has now designed a device that improves the efficacy of masks worn by medical staff on the frontline of the pandemic. Inspired by biological warfare masks of the Israel Defense Forces, the invention covers the head and blows air onto the face to shield the doctor from the surrounding area, which might carry infectious aerosol droplets. It even helps with overheating and fogging.

About the Speakers:
  • Professor Marcelle Machluf, dean of the Faculty of Biotechnology and Food Engineering, is becoming a national treasure in Israel. In 2018, she was chosen to light a torch in a prestigious Independence Day ceremony, and was named “Woman of the Year” by Israel’s Lady Globes magazine. Her research has been included in “Israel’s 60 Most Impactful Developments,” a project of Israel’s Ministry of Science and Technology. And last year she launched a startup to develop her NanoGhost technology
  • Professor Ezri Tarazi, chair of the Industrial Design Program in the Faculty of Architecture and Town Planning and head of the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center, known as T-Hub, is a serial entrepreneur and designer whose pieces have been exhibited in museums. He has worked with tech startups and the Israeli government to apply design thinking to industrial problems, and has created life support systems such as chemical masks for children
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A Diverse Look at Israel’s Post-Pandemic Economy

June 3, 2020

When and how will the economy bounce back? As nations ease the shelter-in-place orders enacted to save lives, they are faced with solving a mounting economic crisis. Israel is no exception, as its economy has been severely damaged by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Policy makers will now have to deal with an economy that is expected to see at least 25,000 Israeli businesses shuttered, a spike in unemployment to nearly 25% from 4%, and a 6% fall in Israel’s Gross Domestic Product, a scorecard of a country’s economic health. This is a stark turnaround from 2019, a record-breaking year for Israel’s economy in tourism, exports, and mergers and acquisitions.

Join us for a Live From Technion panel discussion on how Israel plans to restart its economy, featuring perspectives from the media, industry, and academia. David Horovitz, founding editor of The Times of Israel, will let us in on the prevailing views of Israeli media. Technion alumna Dr. Irit Idan ‘94 will talk about her work at RAFAEL Advanced Defense Systems, transforming existing technologies into medical applications in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. And
Technion President Uri Sivan will share the university’s strategic plan as it relates to jumpstarting Israel’s economy.

The webinar will be co-hosted with the Technion UK and moderated by Scott Leemaster, a former national president of the American Technion Society and current chairman of the Technion Board of Governors. Paul Charney, Chairman of Technion UK, will give closing remarks.

About the Speakers:
  • David Horovitz is the founding editor of The Times of Israel. Launched in 2012, The Times of Israel, which publishes in English, French, Arabic and Persian, is the fastest-growing current affairs website in Israel and the Jewish world. Last year, it also launched a Hebrew site, Zman Yisrael.
  • Dr. Irit Idan is the executive vice president for research and development at RAFAEL, Israel’s third largest defense company, and a pioneer of its technological accelerator Teradion. She received her Ph.D. in astrophysics from the Technion Faculty of Physics and is a member of the Technion Council and the Technion Board of Governors.
  • Professor Uri Sivan is the president of the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology and a renowned physicist with expertise in nanotechnology. He was the founding director of the Russell Berrie Nanotechnology Institute at the Technion, and co-creator of a Nano Bible that is housed in the Smithsonian Libraries.

Co-hosted with Technion UK.

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Sleep and Dreams During the Coronavirus Pandemic

June 10, 2020

Having trouble sleeping? You’re not alone. As many as three-quarters of Americans are experiencing insomnia or nightmares because of the coronavirus pandemic, according to a recent survey.

In our upcoming webinar, former Technion President Professor Peretz Lavie will talk about the correlation between stress and dreams, and how repetitive images of the crisis, amplified in the age of 24/7 visual media, are creeping into our nocturnal wanderings.

Dr. Qanta Ahmed will share her recent experiences treating critically ill COVID-19 patients with sleep disorders. She will also describe how fear of infection and economic hardship have led to a spike in insomnia and offer remedies for a good night’s sleep.

About the Speakers:
  • Professor Peretz Lavie served as president of the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology from 2009 to 2019, helping to establish the Joan & Irwin Jacobs Technion-Cornell Institute in New York City and the Guangdong Technion Israel Institute of Technology in China. He created the Technion Sleep Medicine Center and authored several books on sleep disorders. Currently, he holds consultant positions to universities in South Korea, France, and Portugal.
  • Dr. Qanta Ahmed is a pulmonologist, critical care, and sleep disorders specialist at New York University Winthrop Hospital and an Associate Professor of Medicine at NYU Langone Long Island School of Medicine. Her academic work ranges from sleep and pulmonary medicine, to mass gathering medicine and public health. She is a Visiting Fellow at Independent Women’s Forum, member of the Council of Foreign Relations and commentator for such media outlets as The Wall Street Journal, the BBC World Service, and Fox News.
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Food for Thought: An Appetite for Sustainable, Nutritious, and Plentiful Foods

June 24, 2020

Should we consume more protein and antioxidants? Are processed foods always bad? Join us to hear Professors Uri Lesmes and Avi Shpigelman from the Technion Faculty of Biotechnology and Food Engineering discuss nutritional misconceptions and the use of technology to improve diets, boost health, and lower negative environmental impact.

Technion scientists are experimenting with emerging food technologies, such as high-pressure processing, to optimize nutritional benefits. Working with bioreactors that mimic human digestion, researchers are also tailoring foods to infants and the elderly. And with experts predicting a global food shortage by 2050, Profs. Lesmes and Shpigelman are creating high protein, sustainable food alternatives that include ice cream made with silkworm pupae and plant protein-based alternatives.

About the Speakers:
  • Prof. Uri Lesmes ’04, Ph.D. ’08 heads the Technion Lab of Food Chemistry & Bioactives as well as the Food and Health Innovation Center, which supports R&D in Israel’s food industry. He also is the academic leader of Israel’s pan-European accelerator network, aimed at promoting food entrepreneurs and startups. Concerned with healthy, affordable, and eco-friendly food choices, Prof. Lesmes works on the rational design of foods, personalized nutrition, and the safety of food additives.
  • Prof. Avi Shpigelman ’02, ’08, Ph.D. ’12 heads the Technion Laboratory for Novel Food and Bioprocessing and is a member-at-large of the Nonthermal Processing Division of the U.S.-based Institute of Food Technologists (IFT). His lab integrates engineering, chemistry, biology, and microbiology to explore innovative food processing technologies and their effects on food ingredients and health.
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