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January 20, 2017 / 22 Tevet, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘Tel Aviv University’

Israel Hating Professor Shamed over Sexual Harassment

Thursday, January 12th, 2017

UCLA’s Israeli History professor Gabriel Piterberg in 2014 settled with the university to pay a $3,000 fine, accept a one-quarter suspension without pay, be removed as head of the university’s Center for Near East Studies, attend sexual harassment training, and accept a three-year ban on closed-door meetings with individual students.

Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Piterberg grew up in Israel, served in the army and received academic degrees from Tel Aviv University in Middle East history and political science, and a doctorate from Oxford University.

Professor Piterberg has been known to elucidate on the “Israeli onslaught on Gaza Palestinians,” calling IDF soldiers “war criminals.” He describes Israeli history as being, essentially, the “forced removal of the indigenous people (that’s the Arabs) in favor of the settler nation-state.” He repeatedly accuses Israel of killing Arabs with white phosphorous.

A “devoted disciple of Orientalism author Edward Said,” Cinnamon Stillwell described him in 2012, “Piterberg blames Israel exclusively, and romanticizes the Palestinian ‘resistance.’ He distorts the conflict’s history by employing terms such as ‘ethnic cleansing’ and ‘atrocities’ to describe Israel’s founding in 1948.”

You get the idea. And so it was with our awareness of the good professor’s war on the Jewish State that we’ve been following his struggle with his more base urges.

Nefertiti Takla and Kristen Glasgow, both History graduate students, in 2015 sued UCLA accused Piterberg of making unwelcome sexual advances and comments, conversing about sexual matters and forcing his tongue into their mouths. According to a UCLA statement, the UC Board of Regents paid one student $350,000 and the other $110,000. One of the students will also get a dissertation year fellowship in her final year of graduate school.

Professor Piterberg was back in class this week. But UCLA students have not forgotten. With a terrifying tenacity they protested outside his two classes Monday, causing both to be cancelled.

On Wednesday students affiliated with several campus groups continued their protests against Professor Piterberg. Bruin Consent Coalition, United Auto Workers Local 2865 (representing academic student workers) and Bruins Against Sexual Harassment members held up signs in the hallway outside the classroom in Broad Art Center where Piterberg was lecturing, the Daily Bruin reported.

“We wanted to send a clear message to the university and the history department that we don’t think someone accused of sexual harassment should be teaching undergraduate classes,” Melissa Melpignano, a fourth-year doctoral student and member of Bruins Against Sexual Harassment, told the LA Times.

David Israel

Israeli Scientists Say Food Supplement May Help Reverse Familial Dysautonomia (FD)

Wednesday, December 21st, 2016

A new Tel Aviv University study has found that a popular food supplement called phosphatidylserine may be instrumental in reversing the detrimental effects of Familial Dysautonomia (FD), a debilitating neurodegenerative disorder that affects approximately 1 in 31 Jewish people of Eastern European, or Ashkenazi, ancestry.

FD affects aspects of the autonomic nervous system such as swallowing, sweating, and pain sensitivity, and places patients at increased risk for pulmonary and gastrointestinal complications.

The research, led jointly by Prof. Gil Ast and Prof. Eran Perlson of TAU’s Sackler School of Medicine, generated a mouse model of FD to examine the neuron degeneration caused by FD, and to observe the positive effects of the novel therapy. The study was published in PLOS Genetics.

Trucks, highways, and neurons

“Neurons are the longest cells in our body,” said Prof. Ast. “‘Highways’ along our neurons allow ‘trucks’ with ‘cargo’ to supply our neurons with essential supplies. In most neurodegenerative diseases these highways — called microtubules — and the axonal transport process are impaired. Our study demonstrates that alterations in the stability of microtubules and disruptions in the transport may lead to FD.”

The research team, including Shiran Naftelberg-Blonder and other TAU students, generated a mouse model of FD. The mice exhibited symptoms similar to those experienced by human patients with FD, including developmental delays, sensory abnormalities, unstable microtubules, and impairment of axonal retrograde transport of nerve growth factor.

“We found that in neurons from our FD mice, the microtubular highways were impaired by elevated levels of an enzyme called HDAC6,” said Prof. Ast. “This impairment removed the adhesive that connects the ‘bricks’ of the highway. This led to less stabilized highways and to the slower movement of cargo along it.”

Once the mouse exhibiting FD symptoms was generated, the researchers administered a phosphatidylserine treatment, which lowered the level of the enzyme that removed the “glue” from the “bricks” of the microtubular highways.

Phosphatidylserine contains both amino acids and fatty acids, and it’s also known to be effective in slowing down long-term memory loss.

Finding a “path” to treatment

The researchers found that the treatment with phosphatidylserine (PS) enhanced the stability of the microtubular “highways” and improved the movement of “cargo” along these pathways. “We identified the molecular pathway that leads to neurodegeneration in FD and demonstrated that phosphatidylserine has the potential to slow progression of neurodegeneration,” said Prof. Ast.

“Phosphatidylserine can repair the activity in neurons from the FD mouse by reducing the amount of the enzyme that removes the ‘glue’ from the ‘bricks,'” Prof. Ast continued. “This elevates the stability of the ‘highways’ and increases essential cargo movement along these neurological pathways.”

The researchers are currently researching ways of improving the delivery of phosphatidylserine to the nervous system. Teva Pharmaceuticals contributed support for this research through the National Network of Excellence.

Hana Levi Julian

Internet Consortium at TAU to Invest in Next-Generation Internet of Things

Thursday, December 1st, 2016

The global consortium “Israel IoT Innovations-i3 Equity Partners” has established an investment vehicle at Tel Aviv University with an initial sum of $20 million to develop next-generation IoT (Internet of Things) and IIoT (Industrial Internet of Things) technologies.

The consortium is comprised of five global IoT industry leaders: GE Ventures, HNA EcoTech, Microsoft Ventures, Qualcomm Ventures and Tata. It will partner with Pitango Venture Capital and TAU’s Business Engagement Center Company, Ramot, to launch the vehicle. Headquartered on TAU’s campus, i3 will be co-managed by Noga Kap and Eran Wagner, entrepreneurs and investors well versed in early-stage investments, and chaired by Ramot CEO Shlomo Nimrodi.

“This one-of-a-kind collaboration of some of the world’s largest corporations, Israel’s leading academic institution and its largest venture capital fund, is a testament to the palpable confidence in the ability of Israeli entrepreneurs to come up with the next big thing that will transform our world,” said Nimrodi.

“The fact that we were able to bring all these leading partners to one table, providing access to their technologies, markets and clients, and to attract top venture capital talent to lead this initiative, is indicative of the highly unique differentiators we will be offering to top entrepreneurs.”

In “selecting the best of the best,” i3 is expected to choose high-potential seed and pre-seed startups with the optimal conditions for success, including financial investment of up to $1 million each and high-value in-kind contributions including technology, tools, mentoring, business development and other services.

It will also provide these ventures with access to supportive multinational corporations at all stages of development: technological validation, design, proof of concept, later-stage investment and the sale of mature technologies and distribution in high-potential markets.

“The Internet of Things is the heart of a brave new world,” said Wagner. “IoT brings together the various IT technologies developed over the past decades — big data and analytics, machine learning, cyber security, sensors and communications networks — to create the connected solutions that are already starting to change every aspect of our lives: from health through transportation and home appliances to aviation, agriculture, industrial manufacturing and much more.

In Israel, we can find the unique combination of multidisciplinary skills and passion to innovate that is needed to create new big businesses that will impact large industries.”

“This novel IoT vehicle will be the first stop for IoT-related startups hoping to access the main global players in the IoT space,” said Kap.

“With our unique and proprietary network, we will look for entrepreneurs who are adapting to changing markets in the IoT domain, and create products that matter. We will provide our portfolio companies with the resources they need to build great businesses by leveraging our partners’ strategic experience and extensive IoT industry connections.”

Tel Aviv University consistently ranks among the world’s top 10 universities in terms of producing graduates who become entrepreneurs (Pitchbook 2016-2017). Ramot invests in and supports the promising innovations of TAU scientists, making them attractive commercial assets through multiple value enhancement tools, including its $24 million Momentum Fund.

Hana Levi Julian

Israel Weighing Moving Desalinated Water to Drought-Plagued Kinneret

Wednesday, November 30th, 2016

Israel’s Water Authority is looking into establishing a system to move desalinated water from central Israel to lake Kinneret, in the opposite direction of the historic National Water Carrier of Israel, which has been delivering Kinneret water to the Negev since 1964. Over the past three years, due to partial droughts and natural evaporation, the Kinneret’s rate of replenishment has been reduced substantially.

An additional burden on the receding lake is the uninterrupted consumption by Jordan. In accordance with the 1994 peace treaty with the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, the latter will be drawing 11.2 billion gallons of water from the Kinneret – while Israel in 2016 will be drawing only about 6.6 billion gallons.

So the Kinneret continues to recede and the Water Authority realizes something’s gotta’ give. The plan, according to a report in Ha’aretz Wednesday, is to push 27 billion gallons annually into the lake from desalination plants in central Israel, raising the Kinneret water level by about 28 inches each year.

Incidentally, the total annual capacity of central Israel’s desalination plants is 150 billion gallons, making Israel the runaway king of water reclamation on planet Earth. By 2015, Israel’s desalination programs provided roughly 40% of Israel’s drinking water and it is expected to supply 70% by 2050.

The plan was presented at Tuesday’s inaugural meeting of the Water Public Forum at Tel Aviv University, which included past and present Water Authority senior officials, scientists, engineers, managers of northern water societies, and representatives of environmental groups.

Meanwhile, according to Ha’aretz, Israeli farmers upriver from the Kinneret, who had been refused an increase of 11 billion gallons annually, have begun to draw water from the Jordan River at night – endangering the environment which is already on a brink of an ecological crisis – this while Jordan continues to siphon exactly this amount for its own agriculture.

JNi.Media

ADL, Families, Rebuke Jewish Teens for Decorating Birthday Cupcake with Swastika

Monday, November 28th, 2016

Guests at a Jewish teen’s birthday party in Paradise Valley, Arizona, on Nov. 20, decorated their cupcakes with swastikas. Images of the Nazi influenced topping have been infesting social media after the teen’s mother posted her account of the event on her Facebook page (she has removed the post since).

The mother wrote she was hoping her own shocking revelation it would be used as a teaching moment for parents. The girls told the mother they created the Nazi cupcakes because they wanted to “be funny,” after having attended a Holocaust class before the party.

Holocaust jokes are widely considered to be a defense mechanism. In fact, in 2014, Yad Vashem published in book form (It Kept Us Alive: Humor in the Holocaust) the Ph.D. thesis by Tel Aviv University philosophy major Chaya Ostrower titled, “Humor as a defense mechanism in the Holocaust.” Ostrower interviewed 84 Holocaust survivors, finding that Jewish death camp inmates told Holocaust jokes as “Defense Mechanism, including its sub types – Self-humor and Gallows humor.”

But the mother was not amused by the girls’ creative coping mechanism exercised under her roof. Neither was Carlos Galindo-Elvira, Director of the Arizona Anti-Defamation League, who told local TV station 12News that “when you joke with symbols like the swastika you begin to normalize them and make it very casual within our society.”

In a later post, this one still online while his story is being filed, the mother wrote: “I know many people are asking what happened after yesterday, so I hope this will suffice. I received wonderful feedback from each and every parent of the girls at the party fully underscoring that each family spoke at length with their daughters about the severity of the issue. My daughter spoke again with her friend who apologized profusely and told her she thought it was just “being funny” but understands that her actions weren’t humorous in the slightest.”

The mother added that she “spoke with the school and they will be reaching out to all the teachers to relay to their students that hateful speech/actions/insignias will not be tolerated or condoned. Opening this hurtful incident up to others to provide a teaching moment will hopefully stop others from promoting ideas of hate is all I ever wanted. Happy early Thanksgiving to you and yours.”

Finally, here’s a sample of Jewish gallows humor from Ostrower’s book:

Moshe and Chaim are being taken to be shot. The Executioner asks them, “Do you have a final wish?” to which Chaim answers, “No!” But Moshe says: “I can’t face the firing squad, please give me a blindfold.”

So Chaim turns to Moshe and says: “What are you making trouble for?”

JNi.Media

Israeli Scientists Find Algae Yields The World’s Cleanest Energy Source

Friday, October 7th, 2016

Researchers at Tel Aviv University have discovered that algae can yield mass quantities of hydrogen, “the world’s cleanest energy source.”

The scientists revealed in the findings of back-to-back studies published in Plant Physiology and Biotechnology for Biofuels, that microalgae produce hydrogen, a clean fuel of the future. The researchers also suggested in their studies a possible mechanism to jump-start mass production of this environmentally-friendly energy source.

The research was led by Dr. Iftach Yacoby, head of TAU’s renewable energy laboratory, and Rinat Semyatich, Haviva Eisenberg, Iddo Weiner and Oded Liran, his students at the School of Plant Sciences and Food Security at TAU’s Faculty of Life Sciences.

Researchers in the past believed that algae only produce hydrogen in the course of a single micro burst at dawn, lasting just a few minutes. But Yacoby and his team used highly sensitive technology to discover that algae produce hydrogen from photosynthesis all day long.

Armed with this discovery, the team harnessed genetic engineering to increase algae’s production of this clean energy source by 400 percent.

Laboratory tests revealed that algae create hydrogen with the assistance of the enzyme hydrogenase, which breaks down when oxygen is present. The researchers discovered effective mechanisms to remove oxygen so hydrogenase can keep producing hydrogen.

“The discovery of the mechanisms makes it clear that algae have a huge underutilized potential for the production of hydrogen fuel,” Yacoby said. “The next question is how to beef up production for industrial purposes — to get the algae to overproduce the enzyme.”

Some 99 percent of the hydrogen produced in the United States comes from natural gas. But the methods used to draw hydrogen from natural gas are toxic — and wasteful — he said.

“I grew up on a farm, dreaming of hydrogen,” said Yacoby. “Since the beginning of time, we have been using agriculture to make our own food. But when it comes to energy, we are still hunter-gatherers. Cultivating energy from agriculture is really the next revolution. There may be other ways to produce hydrogen, but this is the greenest and the only agricultural one.

“The world burns in just one year energy it took the earth over a million years to produce,” Yacoby continued. “We must stop being hunters and gatherers of energy. We must start producing clean energy — for our children and for our children’s children.”

Yacoby is now researching synthetic enzymes capable of increasing hydrogen production from microalgae to industrial levels.

Hana Levi Julian

Israeli Study Finds No Increased Risk With Induced Deliveries

Friday, September 2nd, 2016

A new Tel Aviv University study has found there is no increased risk when labor is induced by rupturing the amniotic sac in a birthing mother.

The findings showed the natural spontaneous deliveries and induced deliveries after rupture of the amniotic sac shared similar neonatal outcomes, according to a report published in the August 8 medical journal, Archives of Gynaecology and Obstetrics.

The study was led by Dr. Liran Hiersch and Dr. Eran Ashwal at the Sackler School of Medicine and the Helen Schneider Hospital for Women at Rabin Medical Center.

“Induced labor — the process of jumpstarting delivery using prostaglandin — has gotten a bad rap. We found little justification for this” in the case of women whose water broke prematurely, said Hiersch. “People have an idea that everything natural is better, including childbirth. But induction is not necessarily more dangerous for mother and child than Mother Nature herself.”

The researchers studied the outcomes in the births of 625 mothers who were admitted to Rabin Medical Center in Tel Aviv.

Most expectant mothers are warned about artificially induced deliveries. These warnings counsel that induction may cause a low fetal heart rate, an increased risk of infection to mother and baby, and uterine rupture or excessive bleeding after delivery. However, the researchers concluded those warnings might not be accurate. “We have found that induction produces healthy mothers and infants, with risk factors similar to those of spontaneous deliveries,” Hiersch said.

It is important to note that women in the induction group were found to be at an increased risk for Caesarean section (CS), but researchers said they believe this was due mainly to blocked birth canals and not the induction itself.

Artificial induction is a possibility for all expectant mothers who have approached two weeks past their delivery date, who experience high blood pressure or diabetes, who have a uterine infection or who simply haven’t experienced contractions despite their water having broken. These women are often hospitalized for 24 hours. But after 24 hours have passed without natural delivery, most medical professionals will induce labor artificially to reduce subsequent risks to mother and child.

Hana Levi Julian

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/israeli-study-finds-no-increased-risk-with-induced-deliveries/2016/09/02/

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