Monday, April 9, 2012

Revolutionary Science for Cancer Treatment


Treating Cancer as a Chronic Disease


Prof. Karl Skorecki
New research from the Technion Rappaport Faculty of Medicine and Research Institute and the Rambam Medical Center may lead to the development of new methods for controlling the growth of cancer, and perhaps lead to treatments that will transform cancer from a lethal disease to a chronic, manageable one, similar to AIDS.

By placing cancer cells in and near a growth developed from a population of human stem cells, scientists have demonstrated that the cancer cells grow and proliferate more robustly when exposed to human cells than they do in a typical petri dish or mouse model.

The cancer cell population is also more diverse than had previously been understood.  The research was published in the current advanced online issue of the journal Stem Cells. Maty Tzukerman, Rambam senior research scientist and the project leader and senior co-author on the report, says that this model will facilitate targeted drug discovery aimed at blocking the cancer cell self-renewal process.

Previous studies have determined that some tumor cells appear to be differentiated, while others retain the self-renewal property that makes cancer so deadly. According to Technion Professor Karl Skorecki, director of Medical Research and Development at Rambam Health Care Campus and senior co-author on the report, this new research attempts to understand how cancer grows, and to find ways to halt the runaway replication.

In order to mimic the human cancer environment as closely as possible, the research team developed a teratoma — a tumor made of a heterogenous mix of cells and tissues — by enabling the differentiation of human embryonic stem cells into a variety of normally occuring human cell lines on a carrier mouse. The human cellular teratoma constitutes a new platform of healthy human cells for monitoring the behavior and proliferation of human cancer cells.

For this study, the team took cells from one woman’s ovarian clear cell carcinoma and injected them either into or alongside the human stem cell-derived environment. “We noticed very early on, rather strikingly, that the human cancer cells grow more robustly when they are in the teratoma environment compared to any other means in which we grew them, such as in a mouse muscle or under the skin of a mouse,” says Skorecki.

The scientists were able to tease out six different kinds of self-renewing cells, based on behavior — how quickly they grow, how aggressive they are, how they differentiate — and on their molecular profile. This was a previously unknown finding, that one tumor might have such a diversity of cells with crucial fundamental growth properties. Tzukerman explains that the growth of the cancer cell subpopulations can now be explained by their proximity to the human cell environment.

The researchers cloned and expanded the six distinct cell populations and injected them into the human stem cell teratomas. One key observation is that some cells, which were not self-replicating in any other model, became self-replicating when exposed to the human cells.

Skorecki said that while he wasn’t surprised that the human environment affected the growth, he was in fact surprised by the magnitude of the effect: “We have known for years now that cancers are complex organs, but I didn’t think the power of the human stem cell environment would be so robust, that it would make such a big difference in how the cells were grown.”

The researchers point out that they do not yet know the cues that particularly enhance the cancer’s proliferation, and the team is now working on isolating the factors from human cells that promote such plasticity and self-renewing properties. The scientists explain that this may eventually allow physicians to manage cancer as a chronic disease: instead of one therapy against the entire tumor, researchers may develop a method to tease out the variety of self-renewing cell lines of a particular tumor and determine what allows each to thrive, then attack that mechanism.

Skorecki and Tzukerman say that an important next step in this line of cancer research will be to identify and develop ways of blocking the factor or factors that promote this essential self-renewing property of cancer, thus relegating many forms of cancer to controllable, chronic diseases.

This research was supported with grants from the Daniel M. Soref Charitable Trust, the Skirball Foundation, the Richard D. Satell Foundation, the Sohnis and Forman families, and the Israel Science Foundation.



Trajtenberg: Israel needs more SCIENCE in economy.

Prof. Manuel Trajtenberg in the Harvey Prize Award Ceremony at the Technion: Israel's economy mustt turn from high tech to science.

(l-r) Prof. Judea Pearl, Prof. Sir Richard Friend, Prof. Moshe Sidi, Prof. Oded Shmueli, Prof. Gitti Frey, Technion President Prof. Peretz Lavie. Photo: Shlomo Shoham, Technion Spokesman 

"The Israeli economy must undergo change, and turn from a high tech-oriented economy into a science-oriented economy. To achieve this we must strengthen the academy, on which the continued stability of Israel's economy is contingent, and continue to make academic education accessible to the entire population", said Prof. Manuel Trajtenberg, Chairman of the Planning and Budgeting Committee of the Council for Higher Education, in the Harvey Award Ceremony at the Technion last week. "Only the academy can provide the science infrastructure that is a prerequisite to economic prosperity, and the democratization of knowledge is key to increasing equality and reducing social gaps", he emphasized.

The Harvey Prize was awarded this year to Profs. Judea Pearl and Sir Richard Friend.

Prof. Trajtenberg added that the world's wonder at Israel's quality R&D is justified, and yet it is important to understand that nowadays most of investment is in the D, namely development. "We must invest so much more in the R, research, and in bridging between the two, namely between industry and academy, through programs such as MAGNET. We must also extend our pursuit of innovation beyond the realms of high-tech, as is already the case with water and energy, fields that have turned from 'traditional' industries to industries involving innovative technologies".

The Harvey Prize is awarded by the Technion in recognition of great contributions to the advancement of humanity in science and technology and  human health, and to the advancement of peace in the Middle East. Among the recipients of the Harvey Prize are scientists and others worldwide, many of whom have gone on to win the Nobel Prize. Technion President Prof. Peretz Lavie said the awarding of the Prize is a "celebration of science", and added that the Harvey Prize was awarded for the first time in 1972, in the presence of Leo Harvey himself, who passed away a year later, Israel's President at the time Zalman Shazar, and Israel's Prime Minister at the time Golda Meir. 75 prizes have been awarded to date, and 13 of the winners later became Noble Laureates.

Prof. Judea Pearl of UCLA is a leading artificial intelligence expert, who less than two weeks ago was announced winner of the 2011 Turing Award, known also as "the Noble Prize of Computing". Pearl is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, AAAI and IEEE, and President of the Daniel Pearl Foundation, named after his son, a journalist who was killed in Pakistan.

Prof. Pearl's work has laid the foundations for the treatment of uncertainty in computerized systems, and its applications range over a wide spectrum of disciplines: security, medicine, genetics, and natural language understanding. Alfred Spector, Vice President of Research and Special Initiatives at
Google, said that "modern artificial intelligence applications – robotics, smart cars, speech recognition and machine translation - have an interest in uncertainty. Prior to the innovations developed by Pearl, most artificial intelligence systems relied on Boolean logic - they 'understood' truth and falsehood, and could therefore deal well with challenges such as chess – but they did not deal successfully with 'maybe'."

In its reasons for his win, the Harvey Prize Committee said that Prof. Pearl has “laid, through courageous and far-sighted research the theoretical foundations for the presentation of knowledge and reasoning in computer science. His theories of inference under uncertainty, and in particular the Bayesian Networks approach, have influenced varied disciplines, including artificial intelligence, statistics, philosophy, health, economics, social sciences and cerebral cognitive processes. The Harvey Prize in Science and Technology is awarded to Prof. Pearl in recognition of the breakthroughs that are embodied in his researches and their influence on multitudes of spheres of our life.”

Prof. Sir Richard Friend of the University of Cambridge has "invented" organic electronics (printed plastic electronics), among the applications of which are plastic LED devices (OLED displays), advanced photovoltaic cells, the electronic newspaper, and thin flexible displays.

Prof. Friend has over twenty patents to his name, and his historical paper dated 1990 was has been quoted over 8,000 time. "Happily, some of the Technion's excellent students have chosen to do their post-doctorates with me, and have exposed me to Technion quality", said Prof. Friend, and noted Profs. Gitti Frey and Nir Tessler. "I followed them to the Technion, and have been visiting professor here for many years".

At the end of the 1980s, the OLED, a light-emitting organic (plastic) diode, was discovered in Prof. Friend's lab. In 1996, the first laser based on this technology, namely on semiconductor light-emitting plastic, was manufactured.  In 1998, the first integrated optoelectronic component, which paved the way to the creation of plastic integrated circuits, was released.  Prof. Friend, a pioneer in the field, is a leading player both in the scientific research of these materials and in their translation into varied applications.

In its decision to award the Prize to Prof. Friend, the Harvey Prize Committee cited that “his breakthrough research made possible deep understanding of electronic and optical processes in polymer conductors for realizing a range of devices including field-effect transistors, light-emitting diodes, photovoltaic cells and lasers. Demonstrating scientific and technological leadership, Prof. Friend has made a decisive contribution to the harnessing of science to the creation of this new technology, as evidenced by, inter alia, the two successful spin-off companies he founded. The Harvey Prize in Science and Technology is awarded to Prof. Sir Richard Friend in recognition of his outstanding contributions to the development of a new semiconductor family and his impact on our lives."

The Harvey Prize was awarded for the first time in 1972, from a fund established by Leo M. Harvey, of Blessed Memory, of Los Angeles, in recognition of great contributions to the advancement of humanity. Every year, the fund awards $75,000 to each of the winners.

Technion LIVE Newsletter April 2012

Technion Live Newsletter | April 2012

How One Stone
Changed the World
Science of the
10 Plagues
Meet Dr. Beth PM @ Technion
From the President
Welcome to this spring 2012 edition of Technion LIVE. In these days we are celebrating the redemption of the Jewish people from slavery in Egypt through the festival of Passover. Also in this time, we celebrate 100 years since April 11th, 1912 - the day when the first cornerstone was placed to physically declare the intent to create a first center of higher learning for the Jewish people in what was then Ottoman-occupied Palestine.

We must never forget the creative space that comes before a great inspiration. Whether it was the urge of Moses to redeem his people through a great leap of trust into the wilderness, or whether it was the early visionaries of the Technion - who saw that the Jewish people could be freed from centuries of bloodshed and antisemitism in the Diaspora by taking physical responsibility for their destiny and by moving also with a great leap of faith into the unknown.

Technion President
Prof. Peretz Lavie
How One Stone Changed the World
Join the Technion family on April 11th, 2012, in a shared contemplation on human unity for the sake of the development and advancement of people everywhere through knowledge, discovery and innovation.
Science of the 10 Plagues
The new Technion Center for X-Ray Crystallography at the Lokey Center for Life Sciences and Engineering is set to make the invisible visible when it comes to understanding and decoding disease.
PM @ Technion
“Technion must fulfill its own vision. I am extremely impressed.” On March 20, 2012 Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made a visit to Technion. Join him on his tour of the state-of-the-art in innovation and expert science in the region.
Who is Craig Gotsman?
In February of 2012, NYC Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg announced Technion Prof. Craig Gotsman will serve as founding director of the Technion-Cornell Innovation Institute. Meet the man, the scientist and the global leader set to bring a spirit of innovation from Technion all the way to the future of New York City.
On Screen
1912-2012 Board of Governors
A personal invitation from Technion President Prof. Peretz Lavie to come to Technion for the special 2012 Board of Governors.
From Jaffa to Java
Technion alum Dr. Yossi Vardi has founded and helped to build over 60 high-tech companies in a variety of fields, among them software, energy, Internet, mobile, electro-optics and water technology. Here, he talks about the greatest start-up of all: The Technion.
Meet Dr. Beth
Prof. Beth Murinson, MD, PhD of Technion's Rappaport Faculty of Medicine came to Technion after being a professor at Johns Hopkins Medical School. She discusses her research in the field of neurology and pain management.
The Graduate
Technion's Zielony Graduate Student Village on campus provides affordable, attractive, convenient housing for Technion's graduate students and their families.
Harvey Prize Laureates
Prof. Sir Richard Friend of the University of Cambridge, UK, and Prof. Judea Pearl from the University of California, Los Angeles, are the winners of the Technion’s 2011 Harvey Prize in Science and Technology. The prize ceremony took place at Technion, on March 29, 2012. Congratulations!
The "Nobel Prize" of Computing
Technion graduate Prof. Judea Pearl has won the Turing Award for a “contribution that transformed artificial intelligence”; he received the prestigious Technion 2011 Harvey Prize.
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Wednesday, April 4, 2012

FROM SLAVERY TO FREEDOM: Message from Technion President Prof. Peretz Lavie.




A Creative Space: The Technion Gutwirth Ecological Garden,
April 2012, Picture by Technion student Guy Shahar

Welcome to this spring 2012 edition of Technion LIVE. In these days we are celebrating the redemption of the Jewish people from slavery in Egypt through the festival of Passover. Also in this time, we celebrate 100 years since April 11th, 1912 - the day when the first cornerstone was placed to physically declare the intent to create a first center of higher learning for the Jewish people in what was then Ottomon-occupied Palestine. 

We must never forget the creative space that comes before a great inspiration. Whether it was the urge of Moses to redeem his people through a great leap of trust into the wilderness, or whether it was the early visionaries of the Technion - who saw that the Jewish people could be freed from centuries of bloodshed and antisemitism in the diaspora by taking physical responsibility for their destiny and by moving also with a great leap of faith into the unknown. 

Technion is a place that is world-renowned for innovation and for its record numbers of start-ups and patents. Yet, our innermost secret is the strength of our basic research - that which has won Nobel Prizes for three of our scientists. This basic research is a direct function of our ability to invest in creative space - where the scientists can move with freedom and curiosity - pursing knowledge and skills, following his or her inspiration, without conditions. Only academic institutes of research can give this. From the front-lines of research at the Russell Berrie Nanotechnology Institute (RBNI), through to the steady unveiling of the mysteries of life through the Lorry I. Lokey Center for Life Sciences and Engineering, through to dyamic programs like the Grand Technion Energy Program (GTEP) which is now a national coordinator in research into solar fuels - this creative space of basic research is the potent key to discovery and progress.

A Happy Passover and a proud Technion Cornerstone Centennial to all our students, friends and alumni in Israel and around the world. May we join together as one humanity in taking responsibility for our global future in order to open more freedom, peace and progress for all.
 
Professor Peretz Lavie 
President



Monday, April 2, 2012

Outsmarting HIV with X-Ray Crystallography


Dr, Alian Akram, Lorry I. Lokey Center for Life Science & Engineering, Technion.

Outsmarting HIV



It sound like modern warfare, and indeed, even when aiming to outsmart a killer virus on a scale of about 100 nanometers, the latest technology makes all the difference. One of the deep passions behind Dr. Alian Akram’s pioneering crystallographic work in the Technion is a desire to advance treatments for HIV, the causative agent of AIDS.



Scientists in Akram’s lab investigate the general principles of how aggressive virus lock into the genetic resources of a patient - and how to prevent them from doing this. “It is a MUST to learn about the critical interactions and the mechanisms of resistance,” says Akram. The team is taking a sharp look at pathogen-host interaction and how the HIV virus literally hijacks the machinery of the host cell in order to replicate itself, and how it escapes the immune system. “We are hoping to determine the structures of key interacting molecules and develop new intervening strategies and drugs that prevent their interaction. We also want to understand the mechanism of emergent resistance in the proteins of this virus.”



Current drugs for HIV bind viral proteins - and yet it continues to mutate and regenerate. Akram’s team is working on a protein discovered in 2004 - intrinsic immunity APOBEC3G. This protein attacks the genome of HIV and causes hypermutation that leads to an abortive replication cycle for HIV. However, HIV expresses a protein that destroys APOBEC, so the Akram's group wants to understand this process better so that it can be blocked.
"Crystal structure of Pseudouridine synthase in complex with RNA solved by  Akram Alian. The structure reveals base-pair rearrangement as the key mechanism to rRNA substrate selectivity  (http://rnajournal.cshlp.org/content/16/6.cover-expansion)"

Global Volleyball 1st at Technion, Israel


An International Beach Volleyball Tournament at Technion, Haifa

The first beach volleyball tournament of its kind will be held as part of the Technion cornerstone centennial celebrations: the event will take place between April 1st and 4th, 2012 in the Technion Sports Center on an artificial beach to be built especially for this occasion. The tournament is recognized by the Fédération Internationale de Volleyball (FIVB), and will be attended by some of the leading players in the world; the prizes will amount to $50,000

 
The players Pablo Herrera and Adrian Gavira from Spain. Credit: FIVB

The first beach volleyball tournament of its kind will be held as part of the Technion cornerstone centennial celebrations: the event will take place between April 1st and 4th, 2012 in the Technion Sports Center on an artificial beach to be built especially for this occasion. The tournament is recognized by the Fédération Internationale de Volleyball (FIVB), and will be attended by some of the leading players in the world; the prizes will amount to $50,000.

The tournament will be divided into two parts: an Israel State Cup and the international tournament. The competitors in the Israel State Cup will be students from various academic institutions in Israel, among them the Technion, Tel Aviv University and Ben Gurion University, and the winning  pair will participate in the international tournament.

Fourteen pairs of men and women from abroad will take part in the international tournament. Among the pairs who confirmed their participation are top ranking players from all over the world: the Brazilian pair Benjamin-Harley, who won first place in the 2011 World Championship as well as 12 gold medals over the years, and Pablo Herrera from Spain, who won a silver medal in the Athens Olympics together with his partner Adrian Gavira, who finished fifth in the two last world championships and who won a bronze medal in the European championship. The women's tournament will be attended by Hana Klapalova and Lenka Hájec(ková from the Czech Republic, who finished fourth in the last world championship, one place before the Americans Lauren Fendrick and Brooke Hanson, who will also participate in the tournament.

The event opened on April 1st with a festive ceremony,  Israel State Cup was held on this day. The international tournament will be held between April 2nd and 4th. The grand final is scheduled to take place on April 4th, and the event will be concluded with a festive closing ceremony.

During the tournament days, the Technion students will enjoy a performance by the Technion Salsa and Dance Group, a pool party and an earphone party. In addition, players from abroad will enjoy tours to Nazareth and Caesarea.

Beach volleyball is usually played by two players in each group, and most of the game rules resemble regular volleyball rules. The first beach volleyball game was played in 1920 in California. It was introduced in the Olympic Games in 1996 and today there are the beach volleyball leagues in most countries.

The tournament is held in collaboration with the Israel Volleyball Association and the Municipality of Haifa.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Science of the 10 Plagues

See also:
Outsmarting HIV with X-Ray Crystallography 
Passover 2012 Message from Technion President Prof. Peretz Lavie.

A tradition of the Jewish holiday of Passover is to examine where we are enslaved in our lives and to open the possibility of freedom. As humanity, disease remains one of the limitations of our freedom - the modern plagues where we as yet have no cure such as cancer and AIDS. 


With the opening of the most advanced center in the region of X-Ray crystallography at the Technion's Lokey Center for Life Science and Engineering, scientists will now be able to observe and unravel the precise mechanisms of disease, parting the waters for future cures and treatments.

Crystal structure of the interface between the LDL-Receptor
and autosomal recessive hypercholesterolemia.
Recently solved by Dr. Dvir. (see Dvir et al, PNAS in press)


“Seeing is Believing”


In its centennial year, 21st century milestone in science will be applied at the Technion with the opening of the new Technion Center for Structural Biology (TCSB) within the Lorry I. Lokey Center for Life Sciences and Engineering. The center, headed by Dr. Hay Dvir, will offer world-class facility for macromolecular crystallography unrivalled anywhere in the Middle East - making Technion a magnet for life sciences worldwide. “You can understand molecules better when you know what they look like...” says Dvir, and this facility will allow Technion scientists to visualize molecules.

Structural Biology is a branch in Biology that focuses on the relationship between the 3D structures of biological macromolecules, such as proteins and DNA, and their biochemical or physiological function. “Since biological macromolecules are too small to diffract visible light they are ‘invisible’ even by the largest light microscope, and thus other indirect techniques to ‘see’ them are required. X-ray crystallography is the most powerful methodology for resolving objects at atomic resolution. The chemical properties of biological molecules, as revealed by their x-ray structure, help us learn about their interaction with other biological partners and/or with drugs,” says Dvir.

This is the methodology used by Nobel Laureate Ada Yonath to elucidate the structure of the Ribosome. Now Technion scientists will have 21st century equipment to support their research in-house rather than remotely as done before. When it comes to revolutionizing life sciences through the latest tools of X-ray crystallography, “Seeing is believing”, says Dvir.

The job done by a new state-of-the-art X-ray diffractometer to be housed in the Emerson Family Building for Life Sciences once would have needed a Synchrotron - a giant facility that would demand half the space of Technion City to fulfill its job. “Nowadays, a revolution in brightness allow home-source beams to provide quality comparable to 2nd generation synchrotrons,” says Dr. Alian Akram,  “This is a huge advancement in what we can do and in the quality of data we can obtain. With the investment of Mr. Lokey, Technion is now taking life sciences in Israel to a whole new league.”
"Structural Biology has not existed as a discipline at the Technion. Thanks to Mr. Lokey we are now laying its foundation.”

Dr. Hay Dvir.
The power behind the new center originates with two new recruits at the Lorry I. Lokey Center for Life Science and Engineering (LSE): Dr. Akram Alian and Dr. Hay Dvir.

Alian began his career in Agricultural Engineering in the University of Jordan. Driven by a vocation to unveil the mysteries of living cells, his career moved through prize winning medical research at the Medical School of the Hebrew University and groundbreaking research into protein chemistry and biophysics at the University of California in San Francisco, CA. It was the existence of the multidisciplinary LSE institute and the promising new TCSB which tempted him back to the Technion, he says.


Dvir –  a senior crystallographer, began his career as a ‘Summa cum laude’ student of the Hebrew University. From his groundbreaking structural studies on two important enzymes for the treatment of Alzheimer’s and Gaucher disease, as Weizmann PhD student, he moved to the Salk Institute (California) for his postdoctoral studies on integral membrane proteins. Later on as a La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology Research Scientist his research focused on molecular dysfunctions leading to elevated levels of cholesterol in the blood; a hallmark of cardiovascular diseases, which he continues to investigate here. It was the opportunity of promoting and establishing rigorous Structural Biology research which attracted him to head the TCSB. “Being part of the viable life sciences environment at the Technion, conducting cutting-edge structural research, educating Technion students with Structural Biology and doing all of this in Israel is about all that I could have wished for career wise” says Hay.

“We know we are part of something really big. We are at the front line of science thanks to Mr. Lokey.”
Dr. Alian Akram.

TCSB Mission

• To conduct basic biological research using X-ray Crystallography and complementary biophysical and biochemical tools.
• To educate and provide biomedical scientists with state-of-the-art infrastructure to study biological macromolecules at high resolution.
• To partner with investigators at the Technion with complementary research efforts to promote broader interdisciplinary scientific programs.



How One Stone Changed the World


Join the Technion family on April 11th, 2012, in a shared contemplation on human unity for the sake of the development and advancement of people everywhere through knowledge, discovery and innovation.


The Rock. April 11th, 1912


File:Advocating Hebrew (Technion).jpg
A flyer courageously advocates the use of revived Hebrew as a language of instruction for the Technion.

In October 1909, Prussian architect Alexander Baerwald was asked to come up with a first plan for the new building. This architect - who used to play cello in a string quarter with Albert Einstein - was inspired by the idea of blending European form with Eastern elements. His oustanding design was approved by the Kuratorium, and in August 1910, Baerwald was awarded the assignment to draw up the detailed plans and supervise the execution. Aside from the stone, most of the other building material came from abroad. The lime was from France, the cement from Germany. Plumbing installations and various fixtures also came from Europe and to this day, visitors at the historic building can read the German manufacturers’ inscriptions on floor plates and elsewhere in the building. Digging of the well also created problems. First attempts could only reach 40 meters, at which point work was suspended due to a lack of skilled labor. A special permit to import the required dynamite was acquired, but it was only when a foreign expert was brought in that work on the well could finally be resumed and water was finally struck at 93 meters. The well was deepened to a 100 meters. The existence of a water source on the upper slopes of Mount Carmel would transform Haifa, becoming an elemental center for the sustenance of life for the following decades and for three invading armies. The well and its water would also become a vital source of income for the young, impoverished Technikum.

In the year of the sinking of the Titanic, and a rare, total solar eclipse, the cornerstone of the new Technikum was finally laid. On April 11, 1912, 36 years before Israel declared independence, under the auspices of the occupying Ottoman Empire the local Jewish community turned out in full to witness the first physical implementation of a dream that lasted for decades.





The Tale of the Century

The extent to which technology determines history and the creation and destiny of nations is a question of historical scholarship, with the Technion - Israel Institute of Technology cited as a striking example. Initiated with the help of increasing Jewish unity made possible by the new communication technologies of the Second Industrial Revolution, the Technion was born 36 years before Israel declared independence. In that time it educated the engineers and brought the expertise to literally lay the infrastructure for a modern state. This included the fundamental infrastructure of electricity, water supplies and roads.

Throughout the century - since the laying of the first cornerstone in 1912 - Technion has had a historic task in anticipating future needs in order to ensure the survival and growth of the State of Israel. According to a leading British journalist, the Technion story is exemplary for other groups caught in the seemingly impossible task of creating an independent nation: "For more than two decades before the state was created, Technion (Israel Institute of Technology) helped to lay the foundations of the modern state of Israel. The identity of the country as a player in the field of science and technology can be traced to the vision of Technion."
Technion would grow rapidly, becoming a global pioneer in biotechnology, satellite research, computer science, nanotechnology and energy. In 2004, Technion professors won Israel’s first Nobel Prizes in science. In 2011, Distinguished Prof. Dan Shechtman became Technion's third Nobel Laureate in Chemistry, for his discovery of quasicrystals, or Shechtmanite. As it celebrates its cornerstone centennial in 2012, Technion City is a thriving world center of research and teaching, with 12,850 students and 80 graduate programs. In 2011, Technion partnered with Cornell University to submit a winning proposal to New York City to set up the Technion Cornell Institute of Innovation (TCII) on Roosevelt Island.

A Moment in history: Nobel Laureate 2011 Dan Shechtman
notates his observation of Quasicrystals in 1983.

 First Plans

From the outset, The Zionist movement had a vision of the creation of a Jewish University in the historic land of Israel. Jews were often barred from technical or scientific training, and without these skills and a grounded education in engineering, the Zionist vision of creating a nation would remain just a dream.
In 1902, Theodor Herzl envisioned Haifa as "a great park....with an overhead electrical train.... a city of magnificent homes and public institutions all made possible by applied science, engineering and technology." (Altneuland) Herzl infused political Zionism with a new and practical urgency. By the fifth Zionist congress in 1901, the pressure was on to found a number of cultural institutions and a resolution was adopted for a “fundamental survey of the question of founding a Jewish university.”

A group of three young men in their twenties: Martin Buber of Vienna, student of philosophy and Zionist; Berthold Feiwel of Berlin – political writer and editor and Chaim Weizmann – formed a caucus emphasizing the need for a Jewish university with a first objective of education in technology. They produced a document pointing out the difficulties of Jewish youth who sought admission to universities where they lived. The lack of opportunities for technical studies, they wrote, was much more serious for Jewish students than in other studies. The problem was “eminiently economic and social”. It meant that in Russia, the Jews were practically excluded from technical professions with the result that they were pushed into commercial occupations.

The plan was to set up a preparatory Technikum, in part to train students for the university and in part to serve as an independent institution for the training of young people in technical, agricultural and similar professions. Graduates would be the basis for establishing and maintaining a Jewish industry.
In 1903, 60,000 Jews of Palestine had just held elections for the first national democratic assembly, the grandfather of the present Knesset (Israel’s parliament). It was called the Knessiah Rishonah (1st assembly). This gathering was special as a first grass-roots attempt to set up the structures of Jewish self government. Zionist leader Dr. Menahem Ussishkin used the occasion to deliver a keynote address in which he expressed the urgency for an institution of higher education in Palestine. The convention supported a resolution for the establishment of a polytechnical institute in Palestine and the Technion - Israel Institute of Technology (at least on paper) was born.

Paul Nathan of the Hilfsverein der Deutschen Juden ("Relief Organization of German Jews"), played a central role in bringing together diverse Jewish groups under the Technikum umbrella, and in raising resources.

Technion Centennial Stamp... already circling the world.
First Funds

Founder Jacob Schiff was determined to ensure that the Technion would maintain its independence.
The late Russian tea merchant Kalonymous Zeev Wissotzky had left a large fund in his will from which allocations were to be made to public institutions twice a decade. Among the executors was Ahad Ha-Am, the distinguished Zionist philosopher. Ahad Ha-Am was able to recruit Wissotsky’s son David to the Technikum plan, and a first contribution of 100,000 rubles was made. In 1908, the American philanthropist Jacob Schiff was visiting the "holy land". Schiff was affected by the poverty and destitution he found among many of the Jews of Palestine and was inspired by the idea of an institution that would provide technical training.

Back in Europe, interest in the new Technikum was kept high. In 1909 Dr. Chaim Weizmann, who would later become President of the State of Israel, reported to a Zionist conference in Manchester that things were going well with the “National Polytecnikum”. Wealthy Jews from many lands were already promising generous support.



Choice of Haifa

A campaign was mounted by the Jewish community in Jerusalem to host the Technikum, and a special committee was set up to put forward a strong, Jerusalem case. The case for Haifa proved stronger, and in the end won the day:

Haifa was destined to be the city of the future... a great port center of industry and shipping. With the building of the Hedjaz railroad, it would be linked to Damascus and Baghdad and would become an important crossroads for land transport as well.

The local Jewish community was not yet rigid in its organization and character, unlike Jerusalem, the center of Orthodoxy; or Jaffa, which was a hotbed of Jewish nationalism. The neutrality of Haifa would minimalize conflicts, they argued.

The local Jewish community was small, and its influence hardly felt in the city. The Technikum would give impetus to the expansion and growth of the Jewish population in the North.


Source: Wikipedia.

Technion Harvey Prize Laureates

Prof. Sir Richard Friend
Prof. Judea Pearl
See also: Prof. Judea Pearl wins "Nobel Prize" of Computing.


Prof. Sir Richard Friend of the University of Cambridge, UK, and Prof. Judea Pearl from the
University of California, Los Angeles, are the winners of the Technion’s 2011 Harvey Prize in Science and Technology. The prize ceremony took place at Technion, on March 29, 2012.

Sir Richard Friend, Cavendish Professor of Physics at the University of Cambridge, pioneered the physics, materials science and engineering of semiconductor devices made with carbon-based polymers and demonstrated their successful operation in field-effect transistors, in both light-emitting and photovoltaic diodes as well as in lasers. In pursuing the burgeoning development of this exciting technology, he founded two successful spin-off companies – Cambridge Display Technology Ltd. and Plastic Logic Ltd. The Harvey Prize was awarded to Prof. Sir Richard Friend in recognition of his outstanding contributions to science and technology, which are already making an impact on the semi-conductor industry and our lives. You can enjoy a lecture of Sir. Friend given at Technion below.



Sir Richard also holds the appointment of Distinguished Visiting Professor at Technion, in the Faculty of Electrical Engineering. He was knighted by the Queen in 2003 for services to physics.

Judea Pearl, Professor of Computer Science at the University of California, Los Angeles, through his wide-ranging and keen research, laid the theoretical foundations for knowledge representation and reasoning in computer science. His theories for inference under uncertainty, and most notably the Bayesian network approach, have profoundly influenced diverse fields such as artificial intelligence, statistics, philosophy, health, economics, social sciences, and cognitive sciences. The Harvey Prize was awarded to Prof. Pearl in recognition of his foundational work that has touched a multitude of spheres of modern life.

Judea Pearl completed his bachelor's degree at Technion in 1960, in electrical engineering.

First awarded in 1972, Technion's prestigious Harvey Prize was created as a bridge of goodwill between Israel and the nations of the world. It is considered a good predictor of the Nobel Prize.


The "Nobel Prize" of Computing

Technion Graduate Prof. Judea Pearl has won the Turing Award for a “contribution that transformed artificial intelligence”; he will receive the prestigious Technion Harvey Prize in 2012.

Prof. Judea Pearl, Harvey Prize Laureate 2011.

Technion graduate Prof. Judea Pearl, who will receive at the end of this month the prestigious Harvey Prize at the Technion, has won the Turing Award, “the Nobel Prize of Computer Scientists.” The Harvey Prize  is known to “predict” the wins of Nobel Prize Laureates (13 researches have won the Nobel Prize after receiving the Harvey Award), and it has now managed to “predict” also Prof. Pearl’s win of the Turing Award  (he was told four months ago about the Technion’s decision to grant him the Harvey Prize).

The Tecnion’s announcement said that Prof. Pearl has “laid, through courageous and far-sighted research the theoretical foundations for the presentation of knowledge and reasoning in computer science. His theories of inference under uncertainty, and in particular the Bayesian Networks approach, have influenced varied disciplines, including artificial intelligence, statistics,  philosophy, health, economics, social sciences and cerebral cognitive processes. The Harvey Prize in Science and Technology is awarded to Prof. Pearl in recognition of the breakthroughs that are  embodied in his researches and their influence on multitudes of spheres of our life.”

ACM, the Association for Computing Machinery, announced last weekend that Prof. Judea Pearl of UCLA has won the 2011 ACM Turing Award, for innovations that enabled breakthroughs in the partnership between humans and machines that is the foundation of artificial intelligence. He has created the computational basis for processing information under uncertainty – a core problem faced by intelligent systems. “Prof. Pearl’s influence extends beyond artificial intelligence and even computer science – to human reasoning and the philosophy of science,“ said ACM’s announcement.

First and foremost, the Harvey Prize rewards excellence by recognizing breakthroughs in science and technology. The monetary Prize is a banner of recognition for men and women who have truly contributed to the progress of humanity. No less, however, the Prize is a source of inspiration. Serving as stimulus, the award urges scientists and scholars forward to further accomplishment.

The Harvey Prize was awarded for the first time in 1972, from a fund established by Leo M. Harvey, of Blessed Memory, of Los Angeles, in recognition of great contributions to the advancement of humanity in science and technology and  human health, and to the advancement of peace in the Middle East. Every year, the fund awards $75,000 to each of the winners.

Among the recipients of the prestigious Harvey Prize are scientists from the USA, Britain, Russia, Sweden, France and Israel, such as Nobel Prize Laureate Mikhail Gorbachev, former leader of the USSR, who was awarded the Prize  for his activity towards reducing regional tensions; Prof. Bert Sakmann, Nobel Laureate in Medicine; Prof. Pierre-Gilles de Gennes, Nobel Laureate in Physics; Prof. Edward  Teller, for his discoveries in solid state physics, atomic physics and nuclear physics; and Prof. William J. Kolff, for the invention of the artificial kidney.

Candidates for the Harvey Prize are recommended by leading scientists and personages in Israel and the world. The prize laureates are selected by the Harvey Prize Council in a stringent process at  the Technion.

See also: Harvey Prize Laureates, 2011

Who is Craig Gotsman?

"The Technion is confident that its experience in building the Israeli high-tech sector will serve it well in New York City. "
TCII Director Prof. Craig Gotsman.


In February of 2012, NYC Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg announced Technion Prof. Craig Gotsman will serve as founding director of the Technion-Cornell  Innovation Institute. Mayor 
Bloomberg made the announcement at the headquarters of Tumblr, one of the City’s fastest-growing technology companies, was joined by Tumblr CEO David Karp, Dean Huttenlocher, Cathy Dove, New York City Economic President Seth Pinsky, Chief Digital Officer Rachel Sterne, Office of Media & Entertainment Commissioner Katherine Oliver and representatives from Facebook, Foursquare, Twitter, Bitly and YouTube.



“New York City is quickly becoming the center of the digital universe, and today’s announcements will help us get there,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “With this fantastic leadership team in place, the tech campus will help us attract and develop more talent to energize our growing tech sector. And our social media platforms will give New Yorkers the information they need on the channels they want to use.”

“The addition of Prof. Craig Gotsman as Director of the campus’s  Technion-Cornell  Innovation Institute brings added luster to this impressive team. Cornell, Technion and the city are very lucky to have such talented people leading our exciting new campus.”

The TCII will confer dual Cornell/Technion Masters of Applied Sciences degrees, based on a curriculum with a unique emphasis on the application of sciences, entrepreneurship and management.

“Cornell and the Technion have outlined ambitious plans for a world-class applied sciences campus in the heart of New York City, and executing on those plans will require outstanding academic leaders like Daniel Huttenlocher, Cathy Dove and Craig Gotsman,” Deputy Mayor Steel said. “Congratulations to Presidents Skorton and Lavie and the entire Cornell and Technion communities on the selection of the NYC Tech leadership team.”

“With the selection of Cornell and the Technion, we were fortunate to find the perfect partners - two world-class institutions which together shared our vision of how to change the City’s economy forever,” said New York City Economic Development Corporation President Pinsky. “To fulfill this bold vision will require strong leadership, and there are no leaders better equipped for this challenge than Dan Huttenlocher, Cathy Dove and Craig Gotsman. With this team at the helm, the NYCTech campus will soon begin creating the new technologies and businesses that will ensure our place as the undisputed world capital of innovation.”

“We welcome the appointments of Professor Dan Huttenlocher and Cathy Dove, to which we add that of Technion Professor Craig Gotsman as Founding Director of the Technion-Cornell Innovation Institute,” said Peretz Lavie, President of the Technion. “We have complete faith that this team can and will efficiently and professionally promote the ambitious program we have planned for New York City.”


“The Technion-Cornell Innovation Institute will be dedicated to fulfilling Mayor Bloomberg’s far-reaching vision for the future of New York City as the high-tech capital of the world. The TCII will become a fertile breeding ground for engineers, innovators and entrepreneurs who will contribute to the city’s tech ecosystem, even before they graduate. The Technion is confident that its experience in building the Israeli high-tech sector will serve it well in New York City. Having a local partner as distinguished as Cornell University, can only guarantee a runaway success,” said Prof. Gotsman.

Prof. Gotsman joined the Technion in 1992. As Associate Dean for External Relations, he founded and led the Computer Science faculty’s Industrial Affiliates Program, a successful platform for promoting academic-industrial cooperation. In this capacity he conceived and developed an “Industrial Project” course, which allows students to perform software projects offered and supervised by industrial experts; and the “Lapidim” study program, which identifies and nurtures the next generation of high-tech leaders. He has founded and ran two start-up companies, one based on technology he developed at the Technion, and has consulted for numerous Fortune 100 companies. Prof. Gotsman holds a PhD in Computer Science from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, was a visiting professor at Harvard University and ETH Zurich, and a research scientist at MIT. He has published more than 150 papers in the professional literature and has been awarded five U.S. patents.