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Hebrew University Researchers Bring Home 3 of the 8 EMET Prizes Awarded for 2016

04/12/2016

Hebrew University Congratulates All 2016 EMET Prize Winners for Hard-earned Recognition

The awarding of the prestigious EMET Prize will take place this evening at the Jerusalem Theatre with the participation of the Prime Minister of Israel. This year, researchers from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem will be awarded prizes in three of the five award categories, and will account for three of the eight EMET Prizes awarded in 2016.

The Hebrew University researchers are:

Prof. Yehuda Bauer, 'inner in Humanities (Holocaust Research): Awarded for multifaceted research that raised public awareness of the Holocaust and influenced the study of the Holocaust and the public discourse in Israel and worldwide on antisemitism, the Holocaust and genocide. Prof. Bauer is the Jonah M. Machover Professor Emeritus of Holocaust Studies, and the Pela and Adam Starkopf Professor Emeritus, at the Hebrew University (link).

Prof. David Kazhdan, winner in Exact Sciences (Mathematics): Awarded for major contributions in the design of representation theory and its uses in algebra, algebraic geometry and number theory (link)

Prof. Haim Sompolinsky, winner in Life Sciences (Brain Research): Awarded for establishing the theoretical framework for understanding the principles of brain function and the behavior of neuronal networks, and for shaping brain theories into a systematic discipline using methods borrowed from statistical mechanics. Prof. Sompolinsky is the William N. Skirball Professor of Neurophysics at the Hebrew University (link). 

The Hebrew University congratulates all of the Emet Prize winners on this  well-deserved recognition of their many years of research in different academic fields.

The EMET Prize is awarded annually for excellence in academic and professional achievements that have far-reaching influence and significant contribution to society. The Prizes, in a total amount of one million Dollars, are sponsored by the A.M.N. Foundation for the Advancement of Science, Art and Culture in Israel, under the auspices of and in cooperation with the Prime Minister of Israel. The Prizes are awarded annually in the following categories: The Exact Sciences, Life Sciences, Social Sciences, Humanities & Judaism, Art and Culture. The A.M.N. Foundation for the Advancement of Science, Art and Culture was founded in 1999 by Alberto Moscona Nisim, a Mexican friend of Israel. More information at http://en.emetprize.org.

The Hebrew University of Jerusalem is Israel's leading academic and research institution and is ranked among the top 100 universities in the world. Founded in 1918 by visionaries including Albert Einstein, the Hebrew University is a pluralistic institution where science and knowledge are advanced for the benefit of humankind. The Hebrew University produces one third of all civilian research in Israel. For more information, visit http://new.huji.ac.il/en.

Hebrew University Researchers Bring Home 3 of the 8 EMET Prizes Awarded for 2016
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Columbia University Awards Top Honor to Hebrew University & NIH Epigenetics Pioneers

07/09/2016
Research led to the new field of Epigenetics, yielded insights into how cells and embryos develop

Research led to the new field of Epigenetics, yielded insights into how cells and embryos develop

Columbia University has announced that its top honor for achievement in biological and biochemical research will be awarded to two researchers from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and a colleague from the United States.

The 2016 Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize will be presented to Prof. Howard Cedar and Prof. Aharon Razin of the Hebrew University’s Faculty of Medicine, and Dr. Gary Felsenfeld of the National Institutes of Health.

Since the Horwitz Prize was first awarded in 1967, 43 of the 94 winners have gone on to win Nobel Prizes, most recently in 2014.

The researchers will be awarded for their fundamental work on how molecules regulate the structure, behavior, and activity of DNA without modifying its genetic code. Their research has yielded key insights into how cells and embryos develop, and led to the formation of a new field of biology called Epigenetics.

Among the innovations attributed to Profs. Cedar and Razin is the concept of epigenetic reprogramming, a key process in development that erases and re-establishes the ability of cells to transform into different types.

The awards ceremony will be held in New York on November 22, 2016, following the 2016 Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize Lectures. The Columbia University announcement is at http://newsroom.cumc.columbia.edu/?p=37120.

  • Howard (Chaim) Cedar is an emeritus professor of molecular biology, and the Edmond J. Safra Distinguished Professor (Emeritus), at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Faculty of Medicine.
  • Aharon Razin is an emeritus professor of biochemistry, and the Dr. Jacob Grunbaum Chair of Medical Science (Emeritus), at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Faculty of Medicine.
  • Gary Felsenfeld is a senior investigator of the Laboratory of Molecular Biology, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, National Institutes of Health, and an NIH Distinguished Investigator.

“These three scientists have advanced our understanding of how gene regulation works and what happens when the processes go wrong,” said Lee Goldman, MD, Harold and Margaret Hatch Professor of Columbia University, dean of the Faculties of Health Sciences and Medicine, and chief executive of Columbia University Medical Center. “These are fundamental medical discoveries that may lead to innovative treatments for a range of diseases.”

“These researchers laid the foundation for an important new field of study,” said Gerard Karsenty, MD, PhD, chair of the Horwitz Prize Committee and chair of the Department of Genetics and Development at Columbia University Medical Center. “As our cells divide and become more specialized they need instructions on which genes to use and which to ignore. Epigenetics adds these annotations to our biological textbook; it’s a process that is crucial to our development and continues throughout our lives.”

The Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize was established under the will of the late S. Gross Horwitz through a bequest to Columbia University. It is named in honor of the donor’s mother, Louisa Gross Horwitz, who was the daughter of Dr. Samuel David Gross (1805–89), a prominent Philadelphia surgeon who served as president of the American Medical Association and wrote Systems of Surgery. For more information, please see the Columbia University website at http://www.cumc.columbia.edu/research/horwitz-prize.

About the Hebrew University’s Faculty of Medicine

The Hebrew University’s Faculty of Medicine is a comprehensive training and research institution. Its mission is to educate Israel's finest medical personnel and deliver biomedical research breakthroughs that alleviate human suffering and improve healthcare throughout the world. The Faculty encompasses five schools: in addition to the Hebrew University-Hadassah Medical School, the Schools of Pharmacy, Nursing, Occupational Therapy and the Braun School of Public Health and Community Medicine provide the training that enable graduates to deliver the highest standards of research and treatment in Israel and around the world. At two major Institutes, the Institute for Medical Research Israel-Canada (IMRIC) and the Institute of Drug Research, the Faculty of Medicine conducts fundamental and applied research essential to understanding and finding therapies for the illnesses that challenge medical science, among them cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, neurodegenerative diseases, and infectious diseases.​ For more information, visit https://medicine.ekmd.huji.ac.il/En.

Columbia University Awards Top Honor to Hebrew University & NIH Epigenetics Pioneers
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IMRIC Scientist Awarded for Work in Stem Cells & Regenerative Medicine

18/07/2016

Dr. Yosef Buganim is a young researcher at the Institute for Medical Research Israel-Canada (IMRIC), part of the Hebrew University’s Faculty of Medicine

Dr. Yosef Buganim, a research scientist at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, has been honored by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the prestigious journals Science and Science Translational Medicine, and the Boyalife industrial research consortium, for his work in stem cells and regenerative medicine. (See Buganim’s essay in Science at http://science.sciencemag.org/content/352/6292/1401.full).

Dr. Buganim is a young researcher who recently joined the Department of Molecular Biology and Cancer Research at the Institute for Medical Research Israel-Canada (IMRIC, http://imric.org). Part of the Hebrew University’s Faculty of Medicine, IMRIC is one of the most innovative and multidisciplinary biomedical research organizations in the world.

Awarded for the first time this year, the Boyalife Science & Science Translational Medicine Award in Stem Cells & Regenerative Medicine honors researchers for outstanding contributions in stem cell research and regenerative medicine around the globe. AAAS, Science, and Science Translational Medicine joined efforts with Boyalife, an industrial-research consortium formed in Wuxi, China, in 2009, to sponsor the award.  Composed of prominent researchers, the judging panel was co-chaired by a Science and a Science Translational Medicine editor.

At his Hebrew University laboratory, Buganim uses somatic cell conversion models to identify and investigate the elements that facilitate safe and complete nuclear reprogramming. As a postdoctoral fellow at the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research at MIT, he used single-cell technologies and bioinformatic approaches to shed light on the molecular mechanisms that underlie the reprogramming of somatic cells to iPSCs.

Regenerative medicine is a developing field aimed at regenerating, replacing or engineering human cells, tissues or organs, to establish or restore normal function. Embryonic stem cells have enormous potential in this area because they can differentiate into all cell types in the human body. However, two significant obstacles prevent their immediate use in medicine: ethical issues related to terminating human embryos, and rejection of foreign cells by a patient's immune system.

In 2006, Japanese researchers discovered that it is possible to reprogram adult cells and return them to their embryonic stage, creating functional embryonic stem-like cells. These cells are known as induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), and constitute a solution to these two obstacles. In addition, these cells provide a good basis for modeling diseases and finding medical solutions, because they can be reproduced from different patients and different diseases.

Despite these cells’ enormous potential, their quality is still not sufficient to be used in clinical practice, and there is a need to find the best protocol that will enable production of high-quality iPSCs that will not endanger patients.

Dr. Buganim’s laboratory has made two major breakthroughs in this area, representing a major step forward in the field of regenerative medicine and transplantation.

Project A: To improve the quality of embryonic stem cells, Dr. Buganim and colleagues conducted bioinformatics analyses which pointed to four new key genes capable of creating iPSCs from skin cells, of superior quality to stem cells in current use. These cells produced in his laboratory (in this case mouse cells) are able to clone a whole mouse at a much higher percentage (80%) than other iPSCs (30%). This test is the most important one determine the quality of the cells.

Project B: Many women suffer recurrent miscarriages and abnormal development of the placenta, which causes fetal growth restriction and in some cases produces children with mental retardation. Dr. Buganim’s lab found the key genes of the placenta stem cells and by expressing them in surplus in skin cells, created placental iPSCs. These cells looked and behaved like natural placental stem cells. Various tests showed that these cells have cell-generating capability in a Petri dish and inside a placenta that develops following a transplant. These cells have potential for use in regenerative medicine in cases of problematic placental functioning. The success of this project may enable women with placenta problems to give birth to healthy children and rescue pregnancies at risk of dysfunctional placenta. (See details at http://new.huji.ac.il/en/article/27928.)

Forward-looking: Alongside creating specific cell types (e.g. nerve cells in patients with Parkinson's disease, ALS and Alzheimer) from a patient’s skin cells, a potential future use of iPSCs is the creation of whole organs (such as heart, liver or kidney) in a suitable animal model using cells taken from the patient.

Citation: Science, Vol. 352, Issue 6292, pp. 1401, DOI: 10.1126/science.aag1215 (link: http://science.sciencemag.org/content/352/6292/1401.full)

# # #

Boyalife Group, previously known as the International Consortium of Stem Cell Research (INCOSC), was founded in July 2009 in Wuxi, China. In July 2015, Boyalife became the world’s first Stem Cell Bank accredited by AABB standard of Somatic Cell. Through subsidiaries, the company is also engaged in regenerative medicine, genomics, animal cloning, innovative drug discovery and disease modeling.

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) is the world's largest general scientific society, and publisher of the journals Science, Science Translational Medicine, Science Signaling and Science Advances. The non-profit AAAS -- www.aaas.org -- is open to all and fulfills its mission to "advance science and serve society" through initiatives in science policy, international programs, science education, and more.

The Institute for Medical Research-Israel Canada (IMRIC), in the Hebrew University of Jerusalem's Faculty of Medicine, is one of the most innovative biomedical research organizations in Israel and worldwide. IMRIC brings together brilliant scientific minds to find solutions to the world's most serious medical problems, through a multidisciplinary approach to biomedical research. More information at http://imric.org.

The Hebrew University of Jerusalem is Israel’s leading academic and research institution, producing one-third of all civilian research in Israel. For more information, visit http://new.huji.ac.il/en.

IMRIC Scientist Awarded for Work in Stem Cells & Regenerative Medicine
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France’s Highest Honor Awarded to Hebrew University Vice President, Ambassador Yossi Gal

29/06/2016

Named a Commander of the Legion of Honour

Ambassador Yossi Gal, the Vice President for Advancement and External Relations at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, has been named a Commander of France’s Legion of Honour. The honor was presented at a ceremony hosted by Mr. Patrick Maisonnave, the Ambassador of France to Israel, at his official residence in Tel Aviv yesterday.

Established by Napoléon Bonaparte in 1802, the Legion of Honour (Ordre national de la Légion d'honneur) is the highest French order for military and civil merits.

PHOTO: Mr. Patrick Maisonnave, the Ambassador of France to Israel, presents the medal of the Legion of Honour to Yossi Gal, Vice President of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and former Israeli Ambassador to France. (Photo credit: French Embassy in Israel / Marine Crouzet) http://media.huji.ac.il/new/photos/hu160629_yossigal.jpg

As Vice President of the Division for Advancement and External Relations at the Hebrew University, Ambassador Gal works to enhance the University’s relationships with its many Friends of the Hebrew University organizations around the world. A veteran of the Israeli Foreign Ministry, he served as its Director General and, immediately prior to joining the Hebrew University, he served as Israel’s Ambassador to France.

"As Vice President of the Hebrew University, an institute which was a home to Einstein, Freud, Buber, Bialik and Chaim Weizmann, I appreciate even more today France's contribution to the world of sciences — mathematics, medicine, literature and culture," said Ambassador Yossi Gal.

"Through and beyond your daily routine as Ambassador, you, dear Yossi, were a privileged witness to the solid, multi-faceted and passionate nature of Franco-Israeli relations,” said Mr. Patrick Maisonnave, the Ambassador of France to Israel. “First and foremost, it is a solid relationship: France is a central ally to Israel since the days it voted in favor of the Partition Plan of 1947, and since the establishment of the State of Israel which we were among the first to recognize. Secondly, this is a multi-faceted relationship, which was built around the strong human relations we share. It is built around the growing interest of French economic players in the Israeli market and in the dynamism of Israel for innovation, the increasing exchange of information between our universities, the success of Israeli literature and Israeli cinema in France, and Israelis who are interested in French culture. Finally and especially, French-Israeli relations are passionate: France holds a special place in the Israeli imagination, and Israel in the French imagination. This passion is accompanied by mutual concerns about the future of our friend. You were an outstanding player in this great friendship between France and Israel, dear Yossi Gal, and so in the name of the President of the Republic, and the under the authority granted to me, we present you the Medal of Commander of the Legion of Honour.”

The President of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Prof. Menahem Ben-Sasson, said: "Thanks to Ambassador Gal's dedication and diligence, the Hebrew University continues to develop rich international relationships with its Friends organizations, donors and supporters. We applaud his commitment to strengthening the Hebrew University, and I congratulate him on this well-deserved honor.”

"The Hebrew University is the leader in higher education in Israel, and one of the most important universities in the international arena," added Ambassador Gal. "I am honored to represent Israel's best university around the world and contribute to its success.”

Born in Jerusalem, Ambassador Gal completed his elementary and high school studies in Jerusalem and graduated from the Hebrew University. Following his military service and university studies, in 1975 he began his career in the foreign service of the State of Israel.

Among his many posts at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, he served as Director of the Information Department, Deputy Director-General for Communications, participated in the peace negotiations with Israel's neighbors, and chaired the Israeli delegation to the multilateral peace talks on the environment.

He then headed the Press and Communications Department at the Prime Minister's office, served as Deputy Director-General for Economic Affairs, was then promoted to Senior Deputy Director-General and then Director General of Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Abroad, he served twice in Washington (1976-1981 as Director of the Ambassador's office, and 1985-1989 as Spokesman of the embassy), then as Ambassador of Israel to the Netherlands (1995-2001), and Ambassador to France and Monaco (2010-2015).

Ambassador Gal participated in the Madrid Peace Conference, was a member of the peace negotiating team with Jordan and the Palestinians, headed the diplomatic process of Israel's adherence to the OECD, and led the negotiations on upgrading relations with the EU.

About The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

The Hebrew University of Jerusalem is Israel’s leading university and premier research institution. Founded in 1918 by such innovative thinkers as Albert Einstein, Martin Buber and Sigmund Freud, the Hebrew University is a pluralistic institution where science and knowledge are advanced for the benefit of humankind. The Hebrew University is ranked internationally among the top 100 universities in the world, and first among Israeli universities. Serving 23,500 students from 85 countries, the Hebrew University produces a third of Israel’s civilian research, and its faculty are at the forefront of the international academic and scientific communities. For more information, please visit http://new.huji.ac.il/en.

France’s Highest Honor Awarded to Hebrew University Vice President, Ambassador Yossi Gal
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