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October 7, 2015 / 24 Tishri, 5776
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Posts Tagged ‘Ben Gurion University’

Israeli Researchers Develop Method to Profile Potential ‘School Shooters’

Wednesday, September 9th, 2015

Ben-Gurion University (BGU) researchers have developed a personality profiling technique that automates the identification of potential school shooters by analyzing personality traits that appear in their writings.

“School shooters present a challenge to both forensic psychiatry and law enforcement agencies,” explains Prof. Yair Neuman, a member of the BGU Homeland Security Institute.

He said in an article published in Frontiers in Forensic Psychiatry:

There is currently no clear consensus or clinical diagnosis that can be used for screening shooters. Finding a single shooter in a large population, as well as a lack of clinical diagnosis before an occurrence adds to the complexity.

The study details the text-based computational personality-profiling tool, which uses “vector semantics.” This involves constructing a number of vectors representing personality dimensions and disorders, which are analyzed automatically by computer to measure the similarity with texts written by the human subject.

“For example, an investigator may want to measure the extent in which narcissism is manifested in a text,” Neuman explains. “First, we define a vector of words representing this personality such as ‘arrogant,’ ‘manipulative,’ ‘egocentric,’ and ‘insensitive.’ The computer measures the distance between the vector of words comprising our target text and those representing narcissism in a high-dimensional semantic space. The closer the vectors appear, the higher the writer’s narcissistic ranking.”

In this study, BGU researchers selected writings by six shooters involved in a number of high-profile scenarios worldwide, including the Virginia Tech Massacre in 2007. Then they analyzed and compared these with writings by 6,000 bloggers and tasked the computer to identify the shooters.

Although pinpointing a single person wasn’t the goal, the tool was able to significantly reduce the pool of suspects to only three percent of the original sample, which included the writings of all six shooters. This shows that using intelligent technology can significantly reduce the effort needed to identify shooters or even solo terrorists.

The methodology is automatic, which also enables screening a massive number of texts in a short time, which could aid in detection.

“While ethical considerations are inevitable, we can definitely imagine a situation in which parents give the school permission to scan their teenagers’ social media pages under certain limitations. In this context, using our automatic screening procedure, a qualified psychiatrist or psychologist who is trained may automatically get red flag warnings for students whose texts express a high level of potential danger,” explains Neuman.

He added:

The proposed methodology does not pretend to solve the enormous difficulties in profiling and identifying school shooters, but modestly adds another tool to the tool kit of forensic psychiatry and law enforcement agencies.
We believe our methodology can gain more validity with the ranking/prioritization process of suspects, similar to the automatic identification of sexual predators created to prioritize an investigation.

Israeli Scientists Reach Breakthrough in HIV Research

Tuesday, August 11th, 2015

Israeli scientists have made a breakthrough in researching the HIV virus, Ben Gurion University of the Negev has announced.

Dr. Ran Taube of the Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Genetics says that his team has found similarities between HIV and leukemia.

The study aims to wipe out AIDS, which is caused by the HIV virus, and also to slow down the development of leukemia as well. The study is aiming specifically at the rare mixed -lineage leukemia (MLL) that occurs mostly in children and hinders the development of cells in the blood.

Taube and his team worked in collaboration with Dr. Uri Rubio, of Soroka Medical Center in Be’er Sheva.

The researchers said the discovery will lead to a “revolutionary diagnosis and the key to the clinical solution that will prevent infection with HIV and will destroy the deadly virus.”

Ryanair Flying to Israel with Big Boost to Negev

Tuesday, July 7th, 2015

The European low-fare Ryanair Airlines announced Tuesday it is launching its first Israel flights with three new routes between Ovda Airport, northwest of Eilat and Budapest, Kaunas and Krakow.

The new service will begin in November, with two flights a week to each of the three European cities.

Ryanair also said that it “will continue to negotiate with the Israeli authorities over future routes.”

The Irish-based company’s chief commercial officer David O’Brien said:

We will strengthen our presence in Israel as time goes by. Eilat is a very unique tourist destination like Morocco and the Canary Islands and we are certain that we will fill the planes.

Negotiations between Israel and Ryanair have been taking place for several years.

The Negev is undergoing a boom with a massive transfer of IDF forces and bases to the southern Israel, the fast-growing change in Be’er Sheva’s becoming a high-tech center, and the extension of the high-speed north-south Kvish 6 (Highway 6) to Be’er Sheva.

Several major corporations, including Boeing, are investing in the new high-tech park next to Ben Gurion University, and Ryanair’s service will be convenient for soldiers and businessmen traveling to Europe.



New Diagnostic for Pro Football Players Suffering from Mild ‘Unreported’ Concussions

Tuesday, November 25th, 2014

According to a Ben Gurion University of the Negev research group, professional football players for the first time have been found to have brain damage from mild “unreported” concussions. Published in the current issue of the American Medical Association’s JAMA Neurology, the Ben Gurion study could improve decision-making about when an athlete should “return to play.”

The new, enhanced MRI diagnostic approach was, for the first time, able to identify significant damage to the blood-brain barrier (BBB) of professional football players following “unreported” trauma or mild concussions.

Dr. Alon Friedman at the Ben-Gurion University Brain Imaging Research Center discovered the new diagnostic approach. “Until now, there wasn’t a diagnostic capability to identify mild brain injury early after the trauma,” he said.

“In the NFL, other professional sports and especially school sports, concern has grown about the long-term neuropsychiatric consequences of repeated mild Traumatic Brain Injury (mTBI) and specifically sports-related concussive and sub-concussive head impacts,” he added.

The paper describing the new diagnostic was published by researchers at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) and Soroka University Medical Center. It details using Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) for detection and localization of vascular pathology and blood-brain barrier breakdown in football players. 

“The goal of our study was to use our new method to visualize the extent and location of BBB dysfunction in football players using Dynamic Contrast-Enhanced Magnetic Resonance Imaging (DCE-MRI) on a Phillips 3-T Ingenia. Specifically, it generates more detailed brain maps showing brain regions with abnormal vasculature, or a ‘leaky BBB,’ ” said Dr. Friedman.

Study participants included 16 football players from Israel’s professional football team, Black Swarm, as well as 13 track and field athletes from Ben-Gurion University who served as controls. All underwent the newly developed MRI-based diagnostic.

“The group of 29 volunteers was clearly differentiated into an intact-BBB group and a pathological-BBB group,” Friedman explains. “This showed a clear association between football and increased risk for BBB pathology that we couldn’t see before. In addition, high-BBB permeability was found in six players and in only one athlete from the control group.”

Friedman also indicated that repeated, mild concussive events might impact some players differently than others. This level of diagnosis of individual players can provide the basis of more rational decision-making on “return to play” for professionals as well as amateurs of any age, he pointed out. 

“Generally, players return to the game long before the brain’s physical healing is complete, which could exacerbate the possibility of brain damage later in life,” says Friedman.

A decade of research in the BGU Laboratory for Experimental Neurosurgery has shown that vascular pathology, and specifically dysfunction of the blood-brain barrier (BBB), plays a key role in brain dysfunction and degeneration, and may be an underlying cause of neurodegenerative complications after brain injuries.  

The BBB is a highly selective permeable membrane that separates circulating blood from extracellular fluid. It protects the brain by preventing many dangerous substances from penetrating, and therefore is not meant to be damaged.

Medical researchers, including Friedman’s group at BGU, are working to discover ways to find drugs that will target the BBB and facilitate its repair, ultimately allowing for the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease and other brain-related diseases.

The Ben Gurion University study was supported by the European Union’s Seventh Framework Program and the Israel Science Foundation.

Ben Gurion U Develops New Personality Profiling Method to Utilize Against Hamas

Tuesday, August 5th, 2014

BEER-SHEVA, Israel, August 4, 2014 – The ability to understand the minds of political leaders is an important aspect of strategic intelligence. In this context, personality profiling is a common practice that has traditionally relied on the expertise and intuition of human psychologists, according to researchers at Ben Gurion University of the Negev (BGU).

However, BGU professors of psychology, Yair Neuman, Golan Shahar and programmer Yochai Cohen are introducing a novel computer-supported methodology for personality profiling which will be published in the American Intelligence Journal. The methodology aims to help stakeholders better understand strategic competitors and allies for both rationally and for psychologically managing their policy. The professors cited the current conflict with Hamas as a prime example.

“If we characterize Khaled Mashal as someone with a psychopathic personality, then we would expect him to feel omnipotent, fearless, to perceive others (particularly Israel) as weak and vulnerable, and that his relationships revolve around games of ‘predator-prey.’ A man like that won’t be significantly affected by injury to innocent citizens or the destruction of infrastructure because he lacks the ability to empathize. He will manipulate and defraud in the pursuit of his own personal interest. In this case, any attempt to simulate empathy, or to try and appeal to his emotions is a strategy doomed to fail,” explained Professor Neuman.

“These insights are highly important in understanding the personality and planning a campaign against it,” added Neuman.

Mashal is one Hamas leader-turned tycoon who has amassed a fortune worth $2.6 billion, among other Hamas leaders who have made millions from the flourishing tunnel industry and fundraising as the unemployment rate in Gaza stands at 40% and Gazans suffer in poverty. In addition, Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh has capital worth $4 million and has arranged for family members including his sons and daughters to live in beautiful homes in the Gaza Strip, worth at least $1 million each. During the recent war, media reports surfaced of Khaled Mashal living a lavish lifestyle out of a luxury hotel in Qatar.

The ability to understand one’s enemy is an important card in any battle. Psychologists have been building personality profiles of leaders for years, explain BGU experts.

“The CIA built a personality profile of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein which explained to the Bush Administration that what they attributed to a lack of rationality actually derived from the Middle Eastern rationale of ‘showing off’. In other words, so long as the leader is not defeated once and for all or publicly humiliated, the entire struggle with the US, even if it comes at a catastrophic price to his fighters and citizens, will be perceived as a victory and a symbol of masculinity.”

“This conclusion offers a clear lesson for the current struggle against Hamas as well,” concluded Neuman.

A Lifetime of Achievement, From New York to Beer Sheva

Tuesday, May 13th, 2014

Israel looked quite a bit different the first time Seymour Glick visited from his home in New York. The year was 1954, the population of Israel stood at just 1.7 million people and Glick had decided to use the summer between his third and fourth years of medical school to get to know the country that had been born just six years earlier. 

“I was 22 years old and I saw one of the truly great historic events – creating a new country after 2000 years, reviving a language, reclaiming the desert – taking place, right before my eyes,” Glick told The Jewish Press this week. “It was an amazing time, and I kept thinking about what I would be able to tell my grandchildren when they asked ‘what did you contribute to this.

Sixty years later, it’s a question Prof. Dr. Shimon Glick shouldn’t have too much trouble answering. Under his tutelage, the medical school at Ben Gurion University of the Negev has become a leading teaching hospital and research facility, as well as a backbone of medical support for the city of Beer Sheva. Before the age of 30 his research lab made a major breakthrough in the field of hormone isolation; that discovery, as well as his subsequent endocrinology research, has been cited in medical journals hundreds of times. 

In addition, Dr Glick used his platform as dean of the medical school to develop a curriculum in Jewish medical ethics, a field he says simply did not exist when he began his career. His insistence that top-flight medical researchers also have a responsibility to display compassionate bedside manner has made the school one of Israel’s most celebrated institutions. 

Oh yeah, and then there’s his family, well over 100 children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, all living in Israel. The family is represented in nearly all communities of Israel: One son teaches in a Haredi yeshiva. Another, also a doctor, doubles as the head of an emergency room in Cleveland, Ohio and of the Efrat Emergency Medical Center, halfway between Jerusalem and Hebron. The centre has won accolades for providing quality medical care to local Jews and Arabs alike. Another son is an active member in the political struggle to force the government to protect Jews’ religious freedom on the Temple Mount. 

Nor has his involvement in Israeli society and the Jewish world been limited to the field of medicine. In the 1970s and 80s, Glick visited the Soviet Union multiple times, with a clear message to Soviet leaders and Jews alike: The world has not forgotten you. Since moving to Beer Sheva in 1974, his adopted hometown has recognised his volunteer activity in the city twice. He’s a perennial candidate for the Israel Prize. 

And yet, when meeting with Dr Glick there is little to indicate that one is speaking with an internationally renowned researcher or the emeritus dean of a prestigious medical school. In contrast to the heads of many university institutes or administrators, there are no leather chairs in his office, no large desk, no corner office with a view of the city.

Instead, Glick maintains a simple, spare office no larger than the researchers and doctors he has overseen since he founded the medical school in the aftermath of the Yom Kippur War. Most of the space in the room is occupied by bookshelves, packed dense with medical volumes – Jews & Medicine, Jewish & Catholic Bioethics, Pioneers in Jewish Medical Ethics. Ring binders hold research articles. 

As Glick prepared to accept the Nefesh B’Nefesh Bonei Tzion Award for Lifetime Achievement on Thursday, Jewish Press reporter Avi Tuchmayer met with him for an exclusive interview about his career, Israel, the medical profession and more. 

AT: You were 42 years old at top of your profession, recognised as one of the top doctors in the United States. What inspired you to drop it all and move to Israel? 

I first came to Israel as a medical student in 1954, for the summer between my third and fourth year in medical school. Spent a summer here, at Tel Hashomer, I don’t even remember coming through beer sheva.

Anyway, the Jewish Agency had a program that brought doctors to Israel, but they’d cancelled it for that year. So I contacted individual hospitals, Tel Hashomer said “come,” they gave me a room.  That’s when I decided to make Aliya. 

At that point, decided to make Aliya. It took another 20 years,but eventually we made it. 

What took 20 years?

Ah, there was always something coming up – a new job, a new research grant. I had to finish medical school, then an internship and a residency. 

In 1967 I came to volunteer after the Six Day War. At that time I was offered a job at Shaarei Zedek hospital in Jerusalem, to take over for the outgoing medical director, Prof. Dr. Shlezinger. It’s probably a smart thing I didn’t take it – I’m not sure I was ready at that time to run an Israeli hospital. It’s not easy now, with all I know. I knew I wasn’t ready to come yet.

So what happened that finally pushed the envelope and caused you to make the move? 

I heard that Ben Gurion University wanted to open a medical school – it would have been 1971 or 1972. I wrote to Professor Moshe Pryves, who was then head of the university and head of the medical school. Interestingly enough, Dr Pryves had written to me independently at the same time. Our letters crossed. He’d heard of me from a colleague.

Anyway, I received his invitation, came to look it over, and here I am. 

That was a tough time to make Aliya. Not too many people were interested in throwing their lot with Israel after the trauma of the Yom Kippur War.

Yes, it was a tough time to make aliya. Looking back, I don’t know how they opened the medical school at that time. There were money problems, half the students were in long-dan long-term miluim. But somehow we did it, I really don’t know how. But that’s why Israel works. If you don’t grab opportunity, then things simply don’t happen. 

Tell me about Israel in 1974.

Well, to start with, Beer Sheva then had 70,000 people. We’ve now got 200,000.

And how did the family adapt to Israel? 

What can I tell you, we were very well received. Financially, we were very fortunate: the Health Fund took care of us very well. For instance, There was an apartment building going up in town for the medical school, but the apartments there were not big enough for our family of six kids. So the Fund offered to give me 2 apartments; they broke down the wall between them and redesigned the inside to suit our family. That’s where we still live.

I also have to say that if you go to shul, you’re already at home, no matter where you are. You can drop into a shul in Milan, in Hong Kong, in South America, and people welcome you in. You get invited out, and you’re part of a community. People who come here without that sort of support network don’t understand that.  They go to absorption centres, but it isn’t the same. 

What was it like building a new medical school from scratch? 

Well, I came to new institution, so I could set a lot of the ground rules. We did a lot of things that simply weren’t done in traditional med schools – we introduced students to patients in their first year, for instance. That was as unheard of. Our admission procedure placed greater emphasis on our impressions of the applicant from our personal interview, rather than grades. 

We also administered the physician’s oath when a new class entered the school, rather than when they finished school. So there were a lot of unique factors about the school. What does it mean that the school is “community oriented”?

Common Blood Pressure Drug Prevents Post-TBI Epilepsy

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014

Israeli researchers working with an international team have discovered that a common blood pressure medication can prevent epilepsy from developing after a traumatic brain injury.

The discovery is described in an article published in the current issue of the Annals of Neurology.

Physiology and Neurobiology Professor Alon Friedman works at the Zlotowski Center for Neuroscience at Ben Gurion University of the Negev in southern Israel. He worked with Daniela Kaufer, UC Berkeley Associate Professor of Integrative Biology at the Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute and Uwe Heinemann of Charite-University Medicine in Germany on the 10-year study.

In 60 percent of the experimental rats tested, the medication – losartan (Cozaar) – prevented the development of seizures following injury in which 100 percent of controls developed seizures. Of the 40 percent that did develop seizures, the researchers said the rats averaged only one quarter of the number of seizures typical for untreated subjects.

Medication administered for three weeks following injury was sufficient to prevent most cases of epilepsy in normal subjects in the subsequent months, the researchers said.

“This is the first-ever approach in which epilepsy development is stopped,” Friedman explained, “as opposed to common drugs that try to prevent seizures once epilepsy develops… so we are excited about the new approach.”

The researcher added that the study provided a new way to potentially prevent epilepsy in patients after brain injuries occurred, and once they had already developed an abnormal blood-brain barrier. The best news, he said, is that the drug stops the epilepsy from starting, rather than simply suppresses the symptoms.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/common-blood-pressure-drug-prevents-post-tbi-epilepsy/2014/04/23/

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