Technion University researchers have announced they are developing a new process that might be able to restore vision to the blind by using a special projector that works around the damaged retina.
In an article in Nature Communications this week, the researchers explained they have developed a light-sensitive protein that is injected into the eyes of the cell and that images are then placed back on a special projector, based on a new science called Optogenetics.
The research team, headed by Prof. Shai Shoham, emphasized that there still is a long way to go before the process can b e perfected and marketed, but added it is a first step towards restoring sight for eyes damaged by some diseases.
Artificial stimulation of surviving nerve cells offers a potential strategy for overcoming situations when photoreception is disrupted, as in outer-retinal degenerative diseases,” according to the team.
“We provide the first demonstration of holographic photo-stimulation strategies for bionic vision restoration,” they wrote.
Prof. Shoham explained that the protein allows the absorption of sight into the cells in the eye and is inserted into the cells to make them sensitive to light.
Technically, the blind cannot see with their eyes but can view images through a projector, just like a computer can be made to function even though a mouse or keyboard is inoperative.
Eric Horvitz, distinguished scientist and co-director at Microsoft Research, and Kira Radinsky, a PhD researcher at the Technion-Israel Institute, say they have developed software which can predict future events.
The prototype uses a mix of archival material from the New York Times and data from several websites, including Wikipedia. During its setup phase, the system used 22 years of New York Times archives, from 1986 to 2007.
“One source we found useful was DBpedia, which is a structured form of the information inside Wikipedia constructed using crowdsourcing,” Radinsky told told MIT Technology Review. “We can understand, or see, the location of the places in the news articles, how much money people earn there, and even information about politics.” Other sources included WordNet, which helps software understand the meaning of words, and OpenCyc, a database of common knowledge.
The system could someday enable aid organizations to be more proactive in tackling disease outbreaks, Horvitz said.. “I truly view this as a foreshadowing of what’s to come,” he added. “Eventually, this kind of work will start to have an influence on how things go for people.”
The system provides some amazing results, apparently, when it is tested on historical data. Reports of droughts in Angola in 2006 triggered a warning about possible cholera outbreaks in the country, because previous events had taught the system that cholera outbreaks were more likely in years following droughts.
A second warning about cholera in Angola was triggered by news reports of large storms in Africa in early 2007—and, less than a week later, reports appeared that cholera had begun to spread. In similar tests involving forecasts of disease, violence, and high numbers of deaths, the system’s warnings were correct between 70 and 90 percent of the time.
According to Horvitz, the system is good enough to expect a more exact version that could be used in real settings, to assist experts at aid agencies involved in planning humanitarian response and readiness. “We’ve done some reaching out and plan to do some follow-up work with such people,” says Horvitz.
Horvitz and Radinsky are not the first to consider using online news and other data to forecast future events, but they say they make use of more data sources—more than 90 in total—which allows their system to be more general-purpose.
Microsoft doesn’t have plans to commercialize Horvitz and Radinsky’s research as yet, but the project will continue, says Horvitz, who wants to mine more newspaper archives as well as digitized books.
“Eventually this kind of work will start to have an influence on how things go for people,” Horvitz said.
Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, makers of the Iron Dome short range missile defesne and Wind Jacket tank protection systems will hire 150 students from Israel’s Technion Institute of Technology in Haifa, according to a report by Globes online business magazine.
Approximately 1,000 applications for the positions are anticipated.
Chosen students will learn defense-specific engineering skills and work on the David’s Sling mid-range missile defense system, as well as the Arrow long range system.
Israeli scientific breakthroughs are restoring freedom and ease to the lives of millions of patients throughout the world.
A breakthrough medical smartphone devised by an Israeli company will not only enable patients to consolidate ongoing medical tests and diagnostics in one handy place, but will also provide them the freedom of travel and ease of use lost with conventional medical monitoring.
LifeWatch Technologies , based in Rehovot, has introduced the new LifeWatch V Android-based phone, the first of its kind smartphone device to measure blood glucose levels, oxygen saturation, blood glucose levels, stress levels, heart rate, and body temperature, as well as chart diet, provide reminders to take medications, and even measure daily activity through embedded sensors. Data and results are provided to the user and to third parties such as healthcare providers or caretakers, via email or text message. The device wirelessly interacts with a remote cloud-based environment, enabling users to take advantage of related complementary medical and wellness-related services. And it makes and receives regular phone calls. Medical information will also be sent to one of LifeWatch’s US emergency call centers – one for each time zone – with a center currently in development in Israel.
CEO Dr. Yacov Geva told Israeli science and technology website Israel21c that the device is particularly useful in managing chronic conditions such as diabetes, and said he thinks it is particularly appropriate for children, because it will not only enable parents to monitor health data while permitting children to conduct normal lives at school and elsewhere away from home, but will allow parents to keep an eye on the regularity of testing so they can provide reminders if they see a test is being missed during the day.
The stainless steel-framed phones will be manufactured by TechFaith Wireless Communication Technoogy of China according to Israeli specs and industrial design, and will provide interface options in Hebrew, English, Italian, Russian, Japanese, Spanish, Portuguese, and Chinese. The device will cost between $500 and $700 a unit, and will likely be on the market next year, pending approval in the EU and the US.
New technology may be developed to assist the speech of those unable to communicate due to paralysis or disability, thanks to a joint study between scientists at Haifa’s Technion and UCLA who have uncovered how brain cells encode the pronunciation of vowels in speech.
Published in the journal Nature Communications, the study showed that different parts of the brain are engaged in the pronunciation of different vowel sounds.
The study was conducted by Professor Shy Shoham and Dr. Ariel Tankus of the biomedical engineering faculty at Haifa’s Technion and Professor Itzhak Fried of Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center, in partnership with the neurosurgery department at the University of California at Los Angeles.
The study was based on knowledge about the brain’s predictable responses to bodily movements, and followed 11 American epileptics whose conditions could not be controlled with medication.
Data was gathered when the patients, who suffered from damaged portions of the brain, had electrodes implanted in their brains to measure neuron activity as they spoke.
The team studied how and where the neurons encoded vowel articulation, and learned that the two parts of the brain associated with the saying of vowels respond in different ways and to different vowels.
The scientists lauded the discovery as a potential starting point for developing neuro-prosthetic devices or brain-machine interfaces to decode the brain’s firing pattern for speech.
Providing freedom from severe clinical depression which has not responded to medication or therapy, the doctors at Hadassah University Hospital, Ein Karem are performing a radical experimental procedure involving a “brain pacemaker”, which will provide Deep Brain Stimulation via electrodes implanted in the patients’ brains. Four Israeli patients are taking part in the trial, and another six are being recruited.
The treatment is covered in Israel by medical insurance, with patients being eligible only after failing at least three different drug treatments and electro-convulsive therapy.
The new device will deliver electric currents to areas of cranial overactivity to help regulate the mood.
So far, the treatment has achieved a 70 percent success rate.
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the Technion Israel Institute of Technology, and the Weizmann Institute of Science were ranked in the top 100 universities in Shanghai Jiao Tong University’s authoritative 2012 Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU).
The Hebrew University achieved the highest rank – 53rd, with the Technion in 78th place, and the Weizmann Institute coming in at 93rd. Significantly, this is the first time that more than one Israeli university made the top 100.
The ARWU has conducted the rankings since 2003, and is regarded as one of the most influential international university rankings. Over 1200 universities are considered and the top 500 are ranked.
Topping the list was Harvard University, which has done so in each of the ten years that the rankings have been conducted. Altogether, seventeen US universities made the top twenty; the UK’s Cambridge University(#5) and Oxford University (#10), as well as Japan’s University of Tokyo (#20) also made it into the top twenty.
Hebrew University jumped four spaces since last years rankings, and has improved considerably since the first ranking in 2003, when it was ranked 94th. The Technion and Weizmann Institute experienced a significant jump in their rankings, with both breaking the top 100 for the first time; in 2011, both ranked in the 101-150 bracket in 2011. Ranked according to specific fields, the Israeli universities fared even better: the Weizmann Insitute ranked twelfth in computer sciences, the Hebrew University ranked sixteenth in Mathematics, and the Technion ranked 29th in chemistry.
Altogether, six Israeli universities made it onto the list: Tel Aviv University ranked in top 101-150, while Ben Gurion University and Bar Ilan University ranked in the 301-400 bracket.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, commenting Wednesday on the publication of the rankings, said: “This ranking proves that our Government’s unprecedented investment in Israeli academia has led to results. We are investing NIS 7 billion in universities, in a multi-year plan, in centers of excellence, in bringing Israeli minds back home, and our efforts are bearing fruit.
“I am especially happy over the high ranking of Israeli institutions in computer science – with four Israeli universities among the 30 leading institutions in the world,” he continued. “This is another sign that Israel is continuing to establish itself as a global high-tech power. My Government will continue to invest in education – from pre-school to higher education.”
The Technion American Medical School’s Class of 2012 graduated this month in a ceremony that marked the end of their studies in Israel and symbolized the start of their medical careers. 23 students from cities across America and Canada have spent the last four years in Haifa’s world-renowned Technion University as part of the intensely rigorous yet highly rewarding American medical program. These newly-qualified doctors will soon be returning to North America to begin their residencies at well-known medical centers and hospitals across the country.
Professor Andrew Levy, Director of the American School, lauded the students for their academic achievements, as reflected in the 95% pass rate on the USMLE exams and encouraged them to always remember the support they received, “You have every right to be proud of your achievements. But remember that you reached this place and will only go further with the help of many others, whether they be family, friends, teachers or patients. The more you recognize this, the more satisfied you will be in your careers and the more you will be able to cope with whatever life throws at you. We hope some of you will come back to us and make Israel your home after your training—we really need you. ”
Lauren Astrug, from Chicago, addressed her fellow graduates; “We all moved to Israel for many different reasons, but we leave here today all the same, as doctors. After four years, this rollercoaster ride is taking a turn in its tracks today and the ride sure has been one of the best adventures of my life.”
The Technion-Israel Institute of Technology has filed a NIS 25,000,000 ($6,500,000) lawsuit against the Microsoft Corp, reports the website Calcalist.
The lawsuit, filed last week in the District Court in Petach Tikvah, alleges that Microsoft used intellectual property developed by Technion professor Ran Smorodinsky.
The extraordinary lawsuit opens: “For years, Microsoft has taken aggressive enforcement steps against anyone who held software belonging to Microsoft without legal permits, regardless of from whom and when it was purchased, their geographic location and whether they were rich or poor.”
The Technion is going up against the technology giant, citing illegal uses of technology which was developed by the institution’s staff.
This is a unique suit with which the Technion is marking its overall intent to receive a portion of intellectual property developed by its faculty.
The suit was submitted two and a half years after the state of Israel had filed a similar suit against the drug company Omrix and its founder Robert Taub, arguing that the development of “biological glue” is a product of research done by Prof. Uriel Martinovic, a state employee at the Tel-Hashomer medical center.
In 2008, Microsoft acquired the intellectual property of the startup YaData for approximately $150 million. The Technion now argues that all the intellectual products of the company resulted from research work done by Rann Smorodinsky, a full-time tenured professor in the School of Industrial Engineering.
“Intellectual property rights, technology and knowledge products belong to the Technion – like all fruits of the labor of faculty members,” reads the lawsuit.
The suit alleges that the restriction on the transfer of intellectual property did not escape the notice of the original company founders. In September 2006, the Technion gave a limited approval to Professor Smorodinsky to transfer the company’s intellectual property, provided that the counseling that he himself gave was limited areas of commercial business.
“If the request to expand the areas of counseling beyond the scope of commercial business, please fill inform us and the issue will be explored,” says the same permit.
In retrospect, the Technion now argues, the company violated the permit and engaged the professor in developing its products. Smorodinsky contacted the Technion in October 2007 to extend the permit, without success.
The Technion says that all one has to do to refute “the claim that there is no connection between the scope of Professor Smorodinsky’s area of specialty at the Technion – game theory (the study of strategic decision making) – and his activity at YaData and later at Microsoft, is to quote the professor himself.”
Microsoft Israel has issued a statement saying they were studying the suit and will respond shortly.
For many American students who want to study medicine, the option to study abroad is an attractive one. And for Jewish students, studying in Israel is becoming an increasingly popular option. One program to which many American Jewish students are applying is TEAMS (The Technion American Medical School Program). It offers qualified US pre-med college graduates the opportunity to pursue a career as physicians at a world-class technological institute—the Technion, amidst the stunning backdrop of Haifa’s Mediterranean coastline.
“I was supposed to go to med school in America,” explains fourth year TEAMS student, Lauren Astrug. “But then, In between my junior and senior years I went on a Birthright program to Israel and fell totally in love with the country. When I came back to America I made the spontaneous decision to apply to programs in Israel. I didn’t want to look back in twenty years time and regret never having got out of Chicago. And thank goodness I did,” she adds. “Because the past four years at the Technion have absolutely lived up to and surpassed all my expectations.”
The TEAMS program began seven years ago and is designed to prepare students for the USMLE licensing exams and residency in North America. With affiliations to over twenty medical centers in the US, students can carry out their clinical rotations in these centers, providing them with an increased edge in terms of residency matching. In fact, of the 2012 TEAMS graduates, over 85% have found residency positions at the most competitive programs in the US. This contrasts sharply to the 65% success rate of those who applied for the match worldwide.
In addition to the obvious religious, cultural and social advantages that studying in Israel brings to many American Jewish students, studying at the Technion offers other significant and distinct benefits. The Technion itself is a world recognized institute of science and applied science, which, since its founding 40 years ago, has seen the introduction of many innovations that have changed the face of medical research and patient care. And TEAMS requires its students to engage in basic or clinical research as part of their studies. “The quality of research at the Technion is outstanding and certainly comparable to the best universities in the US,” comments Professor Andrew Levy, Vice-Dean of the medical school and Director of the TEAMS program. “The TEAMS program attracts those students who are interested in being innovators in the future. Combining medicine and science is what it takes find the cure for a disease, and an appreciation of these two elements is what we aim to instill in our students. And we’ve been remarkably successful. Many of our students have won prestigious awards and presented their research at national meetings and a large percentage end up publishing their work!”
Another unique feature of the TEAMS program is its small class sizes. With just thirty students being admitted each year, each student can benefit from a unique level of individual attention and develop a strong rapport with members of faculty. The mentoring program, in which each student is paired with a personal advisor for the entire four-year program, also significantly enhances the students’ experience by providing them with a supportive and nurturing learning and living environment.
“Studying in the TEAMS program has been an incredible professional and personal learning experience for me,” continues Lauren. “The atmosphere in school makes me feel like I’m part of a close-knit family. I’m being taught by leading professors in their fields and also get to spend time in the lab carrying out research with them. And to top it all off, I live in beautiful and sunny Haifa and get to go for runs on the beach every morning! What could be more perfect?”