Strength through Partnership Speakers

Strength through Partnership Speakers
Daniel Chamovitz
Daniel Chamovitz
President
Ben-Gurion University of the Negev
Prof. Daniel Chamovitz is the 7th President of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev.
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Previously he was a professor at Tel Aviv University, where he served as Dean of the George S. Wise Faculty of Life Sciences, and founder of the Program in Food Safety and Security. Chamovitz grew up in Aliquippa, PA and studied at both Columbia University and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where he received his Ph.D. in Genetics. He carried out postdoctoral research at Yale University under fellowships from the European Molecular Biology Organization and the Human Frontiers Science Research Program. He returned to Israel on the prestigious Alon Fellowship by the Council for Higher Education in Israel for outstanding young researchers. Chamovitz has also held positions as a visiting scientist at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, and a visiting Professor at Peking Univresity. His scientific career has been characterized by novel and field-defining research on plant biology, biochemistry, developmental biology and systems biology. He has published numerous peer-reviewed research articles, and is on the editorial boards of several scientific journals. Chamovitz is a sought-after speaker and science commentator. He has lectured worldwide on issues of global food security. His 2012 book What a Plant Knows has been translated into 18 languages, and was featured in the world press and media.
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Tal Gilboa
Tal Gilboa
Zuckerman Israeli Postdoctoral Scholar
Harvard
In order for medicine to move towards individualized treatment based on a patient’s own characteristics, it is vital to be able to sense biological markers for different diseases early on with high accuracy and sensitivity.
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At Harvard Medical School and the Wyss Institute, Dr. Gilboa will be developing new biosensing technologies for biomarkers of neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s to allow early detection, before significant neurodegeneration has occurred. She will be working on single-molecule biosensors, which have the potential to discover and detect biomarkers quickly, with low sample requirements, and at a low cost. She expects to increase the detection sensitivity, throughput and multiplexing capabilities of single molecule arrays by developing, miniaturizing and integrating microfluidic lab-on-chip approaches and electro-optical sensing for high-throughput detection assays. Eventually she hopes to develop breakthroughs in the field of personalized diagnostics. Dr. Gilboa is interested in the design of computerized medical equipment, and has taught courses on the subject to both undergraduate and graduate students. She was the leader of the Biomedical Engineering team for supporting women in science and engineering at the Technion.
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Sharon Goldman
Sharon Goldman
Vice President for Global Resources
Bar-Ilan University
Dr. Sharon Goldman collaborates with Bar-Ilan’s top researchers and academics, as well as her colleagues in Europe, America and Israel, to build global projects in support of the “Jewish start up nation.”
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A frequent speaker and writer on such topics as Zionism, the American-Jewish diaspora, and the U.S.-Israel relationship, Sharon has published articles in The Times of Israel, Commentary, Hamizrachi and The Forward. Prior to making Aliyah in the summer of 2018, she served AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) in multiple capacities, including as the AIPAC Deputy Regional Director for the Northeast Region, as well as AIPAC’s Northeast Regional Political Director. Dr. Goldman received her doctorate in political science from Yale University in 2001. From 2001-2006, Sharon was an assistant professor of political science at Ramapo College of New Jersey and served as an executive board member of the New Jersey Political Science Association.
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David Greenberg
David Greenberg
Zuckerman Postdoctoral Scholar
Bar-Ilan University
Dr. Greenberg’s PhD in Psychology is from the University of Cambridge, UK.
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He has published in leading journals including the Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences and Psychological Science, and received an early career research award from the European Society for the Cognitive Sciences of Music. At the Department of Social Sciences at Bar-Ilan, he will examine endocrine and behavioural markers of synchrony (systematic motor and affective coordination between the therapist and the client) in an attempt to see if psychoacoustic interventions (music therapy) can improve clinical outcomes in autistic adults. He hopes his research will lay the groundwork for future interventions and studies that use systemizing approaches like music as interventions in autism. It will be a much-needed advancement in the literature on the evidence basis of music-based therapies. Importantly, it will inform clinical guidelines for practitioners such as music therapists, clinical psychologists, and psychiatrists. Dr. Greenberg believes in “dreaming big” and surrounding himself with people who can make his vision a reality. He hopes to return to the Northeastern region of the US, noting that his primary research interest, autism, has the highest prevalence rate in New Jersey, with 1 in 34 children being diagnosed there.
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Daniela Rus
Daniela Rus
Director, MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Daniela Rus is the Andrew (1956) and Erna Viterbi Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Director of the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) at MIT, and Deputy Dean of Research in the Schwarzman College of Computing at MIT.
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Rus' research interests are in robotics and artificial intelligence. The key focus of her research is to develop the science and engineering of autonomy. Rus is a Class of 2002 MacArthur Fellow, a fellow of ACM, AAAI and IEEE, a member of the National Academy of Engineering, and of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She is the recipient of the Engelberger Award for robotics. She is a senior visiting fellow at MITRE Corporation. She earned her PhD in Computer Science from Cornell University.
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Yaffa Zilbershats
Yaffa Zilbershats
Chair, Planning and Budget Committee
Israeli Council of Higher Education
Professor Yaffa Zilbershats is currently serving as the Chair of the Planning and Budgeting Committee of the Israeli Council of Higher Education, an independent body acting as an intermediary between the Israeli government and national institutions such as national funds or public organizations, on the one hand, and the institutions of higher education, on the other.
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Prof. Zilbershats previously served as Deputy President of Bar-Ilan University. Before that, she served as Dean of the Faculty of Law at the University. Prof. Zilbershats teaches and researches various aspects of international law and constitutional law. She has published numerous articles in these fields in peer-reviewed journals and has also published a book in English, The Human Right to Citizenship. She has served on several public committees, including committees for the preparation of immigration and citizenship legislation, for drafting the constitution of the State of Israel, and for drafting a new bill for equality in the army and civilian service. Prof. Zilbershats also served as the Deputy President of the International Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists and was a member of the board of the Israel Democracy Institute.
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Moran Dvela-Levitt
Moran Dvela-Levitt
Zuckerman Faculty Scholar
Bar-Ilan University
Moran Dvela-Levitt joins the Faculty of Life Sciences at Bar-Ilan University after a PhD in Basic Medical Sciences in the Department of Medical Neurobiology, Institute for Medical Research-Israel-Canada at The Hebrew University; and a postdoc at the Kidney Disease Initiative, The Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard and the Department of Medicine, Harvard Medical School at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
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In her lab, Dr. Dvela-Levitt studies the cellular network of protein trafficking, an essential process required for the proper functioning of all cells and systems of the human body. Dysfunction of the trafficking machinery leads to cellular “traffic jams,” a hallmark of many devastating diseases, such as diabetes, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, and cystic fibrosis. Using high-content imaging techniques, Dr. Dvela-Levitt aspires to learn more about protein trafficking machineries and to identify new therapeutic strategies. In her PhD, she elucidated a novel biological role for cardiac steroids—as essential growth factors—and identified this steroid family as a potential therapy for traumatic brain injury. Her postdoctoral research investigated a rare genetic kidney disease, revealing a novel molecular mechanism for the entrapment of misfolded proteins, which she has shown to be involved in other disorders as well. She also identified a small molecule that clears misfolded protein accumulation and therefore has promising therapeutic potential. Dr. Dvela-Levitt established the volunteering program S.A.H.I. in Jerusalem, a weekly youth activity that engages at-risk teens from Israel’s periphery, helping them to become “giving ambassadors” in their own communities.
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Arielle Fischer
Arielle Fischer
Zuckerman Faculty Scholar
Technion – Israel Institute of Technology
Dr. Fischer’s research focuses on biomechanics and human motion analysis with the goal of finding biomedical applications and interventions to correct ambulatory mechanics.
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She earned a PhD in Mechanical Engineering: Biomechanics and Biorobotics from the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology. During a postdoc at Stanford’s BioMotion Lab, Dr. Fischer led a team that designed and developed wearable technology to reduce pain and enhance muscle function by activating the somatosensory system in an at-risk population (Osteoarthritis, ACL and meniscus injuries). Upon her return to the Technion, Dr. Fischer joined the Faculty of Biomedical Engineering. She heads the Laboratory for Translational Musculoskeletal Biomechanics and Wearable Biomedical Devices. Her team of electrical, biomedical, mechanical engineering, biology and neuroscience experts, plus a physiotherapist, will collaborate with hospitals, sports organizations, and military and veteran populations. Using imaging (MRI novel mapping techniques) and gait analyses on soldiers and young athletes who have sustained soft tissue injuries, and are at risk for developing musculoskeletal disorders, the lab team explores the complex nature of joint pathologies such as osteoarthritis, then develops and implements sensor technologies and smart wearable devices to improve joint rehabilitation and prevent joint and muscular pathologies. They are particularly interested in using machine learning algorithms on large datasets to develop predictive models for the early detection and prevention of such pathologies.
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Yael Kiro
Yael Kiro
Zuckerman Faculty Scholar
Weizmann Institute of Science
Yael Kiro’s PhD in Geology is from the Institute of Earth Sciences at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. She did postdoctoral research at the Lamont‐Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University.
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In the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at the Weizmann Institute, Dr. Kiro directs both an ultraclean laboratory and an Inductively Coupled Plasma (ICP) Spectroscopy laboratory. Samples (water, rocks and sediments) are prepared in the clean lab, and then measured in the ICP lab. Lab research centers on two themes: 1) Given the risk of seawater intrusion due to sea level rise and excess pumping, as well as expected shortages in water resources due to population growth and climate change, it is important to understand flow mechanisms in coastal aquifers. Current measuring methods cannot distinguish between short‐term processes of seawater circulation in aquifers driven by tides and waves, and long‐term processes driven by density gradient between fresh and saline water. Dr. Kiro aims to estimate the roles of these two processes, by identifying the fluxes of each one and how they affect a particular element. Her lab will sample several coastal aquifers around the world, measuring major and trace elements, rare earth elements and radiogenic isotopes. 2) Droughts are a major concern, affecting agriculture, industry and everyday life. Dr. Kiro’s lab studies past interglacial climates by examining terrestrial and marine records to establish what occurred during warm intervals over long periods in order to determine the future availability of water resources.
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Alon Ron
Alon Ron
Zuckerman Faculty Scholar
Tel Aviv University
As an undergraduate, Alon Ron, a double major in physics and electrical engineering, debated whether to take on engineering challenges for his career, or to resolve basic science questions as a physicist.
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A week at the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory in Tallahassee (which he describes as “magnificent”) gave him an appetite for basic science, leading him to complete a direct PhD in Physics at Tel Aviv University. From there, he went on to Caltech for a postdoc. Returning to TAU, in the School of Physics and Astronomy, Dr. Ron combines his interest in quantum phenomena in nano scale devices, which he developed during his doctoral work, with his expertise in ultrafast optical spectroscopy of quantum materials, which he gained during his postdoc. His goal is to dynamically stabilize out-of-equilibrium electronic phases of matter in quantum materials. He is grateful to be a Zuckerman fellow, allowing him to quickly set up his lab, train students, and undertake his research, as well as join a network of bright minds from different backgrounds, which he points out is a crucial aspect of science today. He also hopes to reconnect with his engineering training, achieving greater understanding of novel materials which could serve as platforms for the realization of future technology.
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Neta Shlezinger
Neta Shlezinger
Zuckerman Faculty Scholar
Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Neta Shlezinger earned her PhD at the George S. Wise Faculty of Life Sciences, Tel Aviv University.
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From there, she went on to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, where she was one of three recipients of their Postdoctoral Research Award (out of more than 600 postdoctoral fellows). For her lab at the Koret School of Veterinary Medicine in the Robert H. Smith Faculty of Agriculture, Food and Environment at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Rehovot, Dr. Shlezinger’s goal is to define the molecular and cellular events, both on the host and the pathogen, that lead to fungal cell death and that are critical to determining host outcomes after fungal infection. Her longstanding interest in host-microbe interactions positions her to build a multidisciplinary program investigating the interplay between innate immunity and fungal pathogens and elucidating the molecular mechanisms that enable fungal pathogens to overcome immune surveillance. She believes that this research direction, which embraces pathogen virulence as a concept that integrates both microbial and host factors, has the potential to yield new insights and novel immunotherapeutics that could potentially help to combat systemic fungal pathogenesis, often a life-threatening condition. She notes that Israeli research is widely recognized for scientific excellence and innovation, and she is truly honored and committed to carry on that legacy.
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Shani Stern
Shani Stern
Zuckerman Faculty Scholar
University of Haifa
Upon completing her undergraduate electrical engineering degree at Tel Aviv University, Shani Stern worked for several years at Motorola and Intel, developing speech and MODEM algorithms, and receiving the Motorola CEO award for research and development.
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She filed several successful patents as the lead inventor for improvements in speech algorithms. Dr. Stern then returned to academia, eventually acquiring a PhD at the Physics Department of the Weizmann Institute, in collaboration with the Neurobiology Department. Her research centered on neuronal networks and excitability in health and disease. Her postdoctoral research at the Salk Institute in San Diego (in the lab of the Institute’s president) shed light on the cellular mechanisms underlying psychiatric disease. In her lab at the Sagol Department of Neurobiology at the University of Haifa, Dr. Stern focuses on four projects: bipolar disorder, Parkinson’s disease, and rare mutations that cause intellectual disability, epilepsy and autism. Dr. Stern uses molecular biology combined with biophysical, electrophysiological, and numerical simulation platforms to facilitate the use of induced pluripotent stem cell technologies (iPSC), where adult cells from human patients are reprogrammed into pluripotent stem cells. The derived human neurons have the same genetics as the patients and are therefore an excellent model for studying human brain disease and disorders. Since different biological processes can underlie similar symptoms among patients, Dr. Stern hopes that understanding the mechanisms that underly these disorders could lead to developing precision medicine programs and finding biomarkers for better diagnosis and improved prognosis of disease.
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Yossi Weizmann
Yossi Weizmann
Zuckerman Faculty Scholar
Ben-Gurion University of the Negev
Yossi Weizmann joins the faculty at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev as an Associate Professor in the Department of Chemistry, Ilse Katz Institute for Nanoscale Science and Technology.
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Dr. Weizmann did research in biosensors and nanostructure materials in the Chemistry Departments of Hebrew University (PhD), MIT (postdoctoral research), and at the University of Chicago (Assistant Professor). At Chicago, in addition to research, and serving on multiple committees, he established an enthusiastic group of young researchers, some of whom have since received prestigious academic appointments themselves. At BGU, Dr. Weizmann’s lab continues his research in the detection of biochemical and medically relevant targets via nucleic acid amplification systems, the synthesis of programmable nanomaterials for self-assemblies and plasmonic bioapplications, and the design and construction of synthetic nucleic acid topologies for biomedical and biomimetic applications. Dr. Weizmann is listed on seven patents, and is the co-founder of Sensona Inc., whose technology provides express molecular analysis to facilitate the diagnosis and treatment of infectious diseases. The technique on which it is based, the polymerase chain reaction (PCR), has been used for some time, but has involved bulky, time-consuming, and costly equipment. Dr. Weizmann’s newer, more accurate, methods allow the thermocycles associated with PCR to take seconds rather than minutes, and use LED energy to miniaturize, enabling portable systems. Dr. Weizmann has received prestigious long-term grants from both the National Science Foundation and the Israel Science Foundation.
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