Academia, Industry Converge for First Technion-Cornell Institute Workshop

August 14, 2012
By: Kevin Hattori

The first academic event of the Technion-Cornell Institute (TCII) is officially in the books. A two-day workshop held July 26-27 saw industry experts, researchers and leaders from the Technion, Cornell University and Weill Cornell Medical College converge to share research ideas that will help shape the “Healthier Life” hub of the new Cornell Tech campus in New York City.

“One of the objectives of this workshop is to bring together all the people involved to discuss what the main challenges in this field are and what problems have to be solved,” said Craig Gotsman, director of the TCII, the centerpiece of the new tech campus. “If we want the TCII to have an impact, a real effect on the world – we have to figure this out soon.”

Prof. Shy Shoham (2nd from R) talks about his research during a panel discussion

Attendees included 12 faculty members from the Technion, 14 from Cornell University’s Ithaca campus, and a large number of participants from industry and the Weill Cornell Medical College.

The workshop featured presentations in the following categories: medical devices and mobile health; medical signal and image processing; healthcare delivery; and medical informatics. Attendees learned about a wide range of research that included sensor-enabled smartphones, improved electronic medical records, human implanted and biomorphic electronic chips, and opportunities for technologies to help contain healthcare costs.

Technion Profs. Aharon Blank, Shy Shoham and Hossam Haick were part of a panel discussion about “Opportunities in Medical Devices and Mobile Health.” Those in attendance were fascinated as Prof. Shoham spoke about his research into the analysis of neural signaling, which could someday lead to retinal prosthetics. And as Prof. Haick shared about the challenges of taking his electronic sensors for cancer and other diseases from the laboratory to real-world applications. The panel also included Cornell University’s David Erickson, and Joshua Richardson and Art Sedrakyan of Weill Cornell Medical College.

Also among the presentations by Technion researchers were one by Prof. Ran Ginosar on “human implanted and biomorphic electronic chips,” and one by Prof. Yoram Baram on “sensory feedback for gait improvement in movement disorder patients.”

Other Technion researchers participating in the workshop were Prof. Haim Azhari, Prof. Michael Elad, Prof. David Yarnitsky, Prof. Dan Adam, Prof. Guy Dori, Prof. Eitan Naveh, and Prof. Shai Shen-Orr.

Industry was also represented well. Attendees heard many presentations, including one from Maurizio Arienzo of Novaware, who spoke about the challenges and opportunities of medical devices and mobile health, and Eric Horvitz of Microsoft, who described how to use computational futures in the development of evidence-based healthcare.

“One of the most exciting components of the Cornell/Technion proposal was the innovative, industry-linked curriculum ‘hubs’ that are being developed, starting with today’s joint workshop on Healthier Life,” said New York City Deputy Mayor Robert K. Steel, who addressed the group during a working lunch. “The momentum and progress that Cornell and the Technion are making toward bringing Mayor Bloomberg’s vision to reality is exciting and undeniable.”

Similar workshops on the other two hubs, Built Environment – concentrating on architecture and urban planning – and Connective Media, with ties to a broad range of industries such as advertising and media, will take place in September and October, respectively, at the TCII’s temporary Chelsea campus.

Just last month, the New York State Board of Regents officially approved the Technion to operate and offer a program in Applied Information Sciences leading to a Master of Science degree in New York. The first TCII classes will begin in September 2013 on the Chelsea campus.

In his closing statements, Gotsman said that, “this conference did exactly what it was intended to do. It brought people together to get to know each other, and to learn about each other’s research. This is very important in an applied science campus, where we aim to find real world solutions for real world problems.”

The Technion-Israel Institute of Technology is a major source of the innovation and brainpower that drives the Israeli economy, and a key to Israel’s renown as the world’s “Start-Up Nation.” Its three Nobel Prize winners exemplify academic excellence. Technion people, ideas and inventions make immeasurable contributions to the world including life-saving medicine, sustainable energy, computer science, water conservation and nanotechnology.

American Technion Society (ATS) donors provide critical support for the Technion—more than $1.7 billion since its inception in 1940. Based in New York City, the ATS and its network of chapters across the U.S. provide funds for scholarships, fellowships, faculty recruitment and chairs, research, buildings, laboratories, classrooms and dormitories, and more.