Author: AUFTAU

Mobilizing for Efficient Climate Action

Tel Aviv University leads Israeli collaboration with international research organization, IIASA.

For efficient climate action – aiming to reduce human footprints, enhancing the resilience of natural and socioeconomic systems and help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals – individual, organizations and countries must be mobilized for concerted efforts.  

The International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, IIASA, is an international research institute that advances systems analysis and applies its research methods to identify policy solutions for exactly these types of issues.

Five years ago, Israel joined the organization as a member, and recently the government approved the renewal of membership for another five years.

TAU Hosts IIASA’s 50th Anniversary

The organization is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, and on November 28-9, Tel Aviv University has the great honor of hosting the organization’s entire management in a big event in which all the heads of the universities in Israel will participate – and the public is invited to join. 

“The conference is celebrating IIASA‘s 50th anniversary and Israel’s decision to extend its membership for five more years,” says Prof. Itai Sened, Dean of TAU’s Faculty of Social Sciences.

“Tel Aviv University is leading Israel’s collaboration with IIASA and will host this conference, showcasing IIASA’s resources and opportunities to Israeli academic staff and students at all universities, as well as ministerial chief scientists’ offices. The event will highlight relevant and potential research projects involving system analysis in various fields of research jointly for Israeli teams and IIASA.”

Prof. Wolfgang Lutz is the Interim Deputy Director General for Science in IIASA and considered the world’s leading demographer. Lutz will be the keynote speaker at the upcoming conference and shares a quick insight on its subject matter: “When it comes to survival, minds matter more than money.”

 

We invite you all to register for the event on November 29, 2022 >>

View full program >>

Featured image: Meeting in Vienna. From left to right: Prof. Wolfgang Lutz, Interim Deputy Director General for Science IIASA; Prof. Itai Sened, IIASA Council member for Israel and Dean of TAU’s Faculty of Social Sciences and Prof. Michael Clegg, IIASA Council Chair (Photo Credit: TAU)

Removal of Cancerous Tumors Without Surgery

New technology from Tel Aviv University, combining ultrasound and nanobubbles, destroys tumors, eliminating need for invasive treatments.

A new technology developed at Tel Aviv University makes it possible to destroy cancerous tumors in a targeted manner, via a combination of ultrasound and the injection of nanobubbles into the bloodstream. Unlike invasive treatment methods or the injection of microbubbles into the tumor itself, this latest technology enables the destruction of the tumor in a non-invasive manner.

The study was conducted under the leadership of doctoral student Mike Bismuth from the lab of Dr. Tali Ilovitsh at Tel Aviv University’s Department of Biomedical Engineering, in collaboration with Dr. Dov Hershkovitz of the Department of Pathology. Prof. Agata Exner from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland also participated in the study. The study was published in the journal Nanoscale.

 

 

“Our new technology makes it possible, in a relatively simple way, to inject nanobubbles into the bloodstream, which then congregate around ​​the cancerous tumor. After that, using a low-frequency ultrasound, we explode the nanobubbles, and thereby the tumor.”  Dr. Tali Ilovitsh

 

 

Bursting Bubbles – and Tumors

Dr. Tali Ilovitsh: “Our new technology makes it possible, in a relatively simple way, to inject nanobubbles into the bloodstream, which then congregate around ​​the cancerous tumor. After that, using a low-frequency ultrasound, we explode the nanobubbles, and thereby the tumor.”

The researchers explain that today, the prevalent method of cancer treatment is surgical removal of the tumor, in combination with complementary treatments such as chemotherapy and immunotherapy.

 

The research team

Therapeutic ultrasound to destroy the cancerous tumor is a non-invasive alternative to surgery. This method has both advantages and disadvantages. On the one hand, it allows for localized and focused treatment; the use of high-intensity ultrasound can produce thermal or mechanical effects by delivering powerful acoustic energy to a focal point with high spatial-temporal precision. This method has been used to effectively treat solid tumors deep within in the body. Moreover, it makes it possible to treat patients who are unfit for tumor resection surgery. The disadvantage, however, is that the heat and high intensity of the ultrasound waves may damage the tissues near the tumor.

 

 

“The combination of nanobubbles and low frequency ultrasound waves provides a more specific targeting of the area of the tumor and reduces off-target toxicity.” Dr. Tali Ilovitsh

 

 

Reducing Off-target Damage

In the current study, Dr. Ilovitsh and her team sought to overcome this problem. In the experiment, which used an animal model, the researchers were able to destroy the tumor by injecting nanobubbles into the bloodstream (as opposed to what has been until now, which is the local injection of microbubbles into the tumor itself), in combination with low-frequency ultrasound waves, with minimal off-target effects.

“The combination of nanobubbles and low frequency ultrasound waves provides a more specific targeting of the area of the tumor, and reduces off-target toxicity,” explains Dr. Ilovitsh.

“Applying the low frequency to the nanobubbles causes their extreme swelling and explosion, even at low pressures. This makes it possible to perform the mechanical destruction of the tumors at low-pressure thresholds.”

“Our method has the advantages of ultrasound, in that it is safe, cost-effective, and clinically available, and in addition, the use of nanobubbles facilitates the targeting of tumors because they can be observed with the help of ultrasound imaging.”

Dr. Ilovitsh adds that the use of low-frequency ultrasound also increases the depth of penetration, minimizes distortion and attenuation, and enlarges the focal point. “This can help in the treatment of tumors that are located deep with the body, and in addition facilitate the treatment of larger tumor volumes. The experiment was conducted in a breast cancer tumor lab model, but it is likely that the treatment will also be effective with other types of tumors, and in the future, also in humans.”

Aerobic Activity can Reduce Risk of Metastatic Cancer by 72%

TAU researchers find that exercise defeats cancer by increasing glucose consumption.

A new study at Tel Aviv University found that aerobic exercise can reduce the risk of metastatic cancer by 72%. According to the researchers, intensity aerobic exercise increases the glucose (sugar) consumption of internal organs, thereby reducing the availability of energy to the tumor.  

The study was led by two researchers from TAU’s Sackler Faculty of Medicine: Prof. Carmit Levy from the Department of Human Molecular Genetics and Biochemistry and Dr. Yftach Gepner from the School of Public Health and the Sylvan Adams Sports Institute. The paper was published in the prestigious journal Cancer Research and chosen for the cover of the November 2022 issue

 

“If the general message to the public so far has been ‘be active, be healthy’, now we can explain how aerobic activity can maximize the prevention of the most aggressive and metastatic types of cancer.” Prof. Carmit Levy and Dr. Ytach Gepner

 

Enhanced Rate of Glucose Consumption

Previous studies have demonstrated that physical exercise reduces the risk for some types of cancer by up to 35%. This positive effect resembles the impact of exercise on other conditions, such as heart disease and diabetes.

In this study, Prof. Levy and Dr. Gepner added new insight, showing that high-intensity aerobic exercise, which derives its energy from sugar, can reduce the risk of metastatic cancer by as much as 72%. “If the general message to the public so far has been ‘be active, be healthy’,” they say, “now we can explain how aerobic activity can maximize the prevention of the most aggressive and metastatic types of cancer.”

The study combined lab models trained under a strict exercise regimen, with data from healthy human volunteers examined before and after running. The human data, obtained from an epidemiological study that monitored 3,000 individuals for about 20 years, indicated 72% less metastatic cancer in participants who reported regular aerobic activity at high intensity, compared to those who did not engage in physical exercise.

The animal model exhibited a similar outcome, enabling the researchers to identify its underlying mechanism. They found that aerobic activity significantly reduced the development of metastatic tumors in the lab models’ lymph nodes, lungs, and liver. The researchers hypothesized that in both humans and model animals, this favorable outcome is related to the enhanced rate of glucose consumption induced by exercise.

 

“Physical exercise, with its unique metabolic and physiological effects, exhibits a higher level of cancer prevention than any medication or medical intervention to date.” Dr. Yftach Gepner

 

From left to right: Prof. Carmit Levy and Dr. Yftach Gepner

“Exercise Changes the Whole Body”

“Our study is the first to investigate the impact of exercise on the internal organs in which metastases usually develop, like the lungs, liver, and lymph nodes,” explains Prof. Levy.

“Examining the cells of these organs, we found a rise in the number of glucose receptors during high-intensity aerobic activity – increasing glucose intake and turning the organs into effective energy-consumption machines, very much like the muscles. We assume that this happens because the organs must compete for sugar resources with the muscles, known to burn large quantities of glucose during physical exercise. Consequently, if cancer develops, the fierce competition over glucose reduces the availability of energy that is critical to metastasis.”

“Moreover,” she offers, “when a person exercises regularly, this condition becomes permanent: the tissues of internal organs change and become similar to muscle tissue. We all know that sports and physical exercise are good for our health. Our study, examining the internal organs, discovered that exercise changes the whole body, so that the cancer cannot spread, and the primary tumor also shrinks in size.”  

Prof. Levy emphasizes that by combining scientific knowhow from different schools at TAU, the new study has led to a very important discovery which may help prevent metastatic cancer – the leading cause of death in Israel.

“Our results indicate that unlike fat-burning exercise, which is relatively moderate, it is a high-intensity aerobic activity that helps in cancer prevention,” adds Dr. Gepner. “If the optimal intensity range for burning fat is 65-70% of the maximum pulse rate, sugar burning requires 80-85% – even if only for brief intervals.”

“For example: a one-minute sprint followed by walking, then another sprint. In the past, such intervals were mostly typical of athletes’ training regimens, but today we also see them in other exercise routines, such as heart and lung rehabilitation. Our results suggest that healthy individuals should also include high-intensity components in their fitness programs. We believe that future studies will enable personalized medicine for preventing specific cancers, with physicians reviewing family histories to recommend the right kind of physical activity. It must be emphasized that physical exercise, with its unique metabolic and physiological effects, exhibits a higher level of cancer prevention than any medication or medical intervention to date.”  

New Hope for Patients with Severe Bone Loss

Researchers induced bone regeneration with a special hydrogel that mimics the bone’s natural environment.

An innovative technology developed at Tel Aviv University will enable bone regeneration to correct large bone defects by means of a special hydrogel. Following successful tests in a lab model, the researchers now plan to move forward to clinical trials.

The groundbreaking study was conducted by experts from TAU’s Maurice and Gabriela Goldschleger School of Dental Medicine, led by Prof. Lihi Adler-Abramovich and Dr. Michal Halperin-Sternfeld, in collaboration with Prof. Itzhak Binderman, Dr. Rachel Sarig, Dr. Moran Aviv, and researchers from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. The paper was published in the Journal of Clinical Periodontology.

Prof. Adler-Abramovich: “Small bone defects, such as fractures, heal spontaneously, with the body restoring the lost bone tissue. The problem begins with large bone defects. In many cases, when substantial bone loss results from tumor resection (removal by surgery), physical trauma, tooth extraction, gum disease or inflammation around dental implants, the bone is unable to renew itself. In the current study, we developed a hydrogel that mimics the natural substances in the extracellular matrix of bones, stimulating bone growth and reactivating the immune system to accelerate the healing process.”

The researchers explain that the extracellular matrix is the substance surrounding our cells, providing them with structural support. Every type of tissue in our body has a specific extracellular matrix consisting of suitable substances with the right mechanical properties. The new hydrogel has a fibrillary structure that mimics that of the extracellular matrix of the natural bone. Furthermore, it is rigid, thus enabling the patient’s cells to differentiate into bone-forming cells.

 

WATCH: Lab of Bioinspired Materials: A Tour with TAU Prof. Lihi Adler-Abramovich

 

“As can be expected, the extracellular matrix of our bones is quite rigid,” says Prof. Adler-Abramovich. “In our study, we produced a hydrogel that mimics this specific matrix in both chemical and physical properties. At the nanometric level, the cell can attach itself to the gel, gaining structural support and receiving relevant mechanical signals from the fibers. At first, to test these properties, we grew cells in a 3D model of the gel. Then we examined the impact of the hydrogel on model animals with large bone defects that could not heal spontaneously. We monitored them for two months with various methods, including Micro C.T. To our delight, the bone defects were fully corrected through regeneration, with the bones regaining their original thickness, and generating new blood vessels.”

According to Prof. Adler-Abramovich, the innovative gel has extensive clinical applications in both orthopedic and dental medicine: “When we lose teeth due to extensive damage or bacterial infections, the standard treatment is dental implants. Implants, however, must be anchored in a sufficient amount of bone, and when bone loss is too substantial, physicians implant additional bone from a healthy part of the body – a complex medical procedure. Another option is adding bone substitutes from either human or animal sources, but these might generate an immune response. I hope that in the future the hydrogel we have developed will enable faster, safer, and simpler bone restoration.”  

Featured image: The research team

TAU Ready for Climate Action

Lectures, workshops, and hands-on initiatives attract hundreds of students and visitors.

As world leaders gathered at the UN climate change summit in Sharm el-Sheikh, the first climate day event of its kind took place here at Tel Aviv University campus. Researchers from various faculties participated, and the meetings touched on a wide variety of topics pertaining to the climate crisis, including the earth sciences, ecosystems, renewable energy sources, legal aspects, lifestyle and culture, history, fashion, activism, cities, and the financial sector. Participants attended TED-style lectures by leading researchers; expert panels; a special meeting for the younger generation with Tel Aviv University for Youth; workshops; screening of the film The True Cost, and there was even a clothes swap party.

The event was organized by PlanNet Zero – Tel Aviv University’s Climate Crisis Initiative, and attracted a diverse crowd of students and faculty, representatives from the private sector, government and municipalities, children, high school students and others. The aim of PlanNetZero is to serve as a comprehensive, multidisciplinary think tank, bringing together dozens of researchers from units across campus – together with private, industry and government partners – to discuss and collaborate. The goal is to seek out solutions that bridge disciplines and actors, for adapting to climate change and for mitigating its harmful effects.

 

Dr. Yael Roth Barkai from TAU’s School of Education manages the clothes swapping booth on TAU’s Climate Day

It’s Time to Act

“We wanted to convey that the academia recognizes that the climate crisis is top priority, and that we are partners in formulating an immediate, practical and relevant response,” explains Dr. Orli Ronen Rotem, Head of TAU’s Urban Innovation and Sustainability Laboratory, at the Department of Environmental Studies, Porter School of Environmental and Earth Sciences and member of the PlanNetZero Climate Crisis Initiative team. “The crisis, as well as the solutions, require many fields of knowledge, including from earth sciences and life sciences, to the fields of law, culture, policy and education. Parallel to what is happening in the world, and which is being discussed at the climate conference in Egypt, it is important to recognize and promote action in Israel and here on campus. Our research needs to be geared towards promoting solutions. We wanted to encourage the audiences to learn about the climate crisis from different angles, so that they can take part in the change.” 

 

Saving the world in style. An expert panel on sustainable fashion held at TAU’s Central Library. From left to right: moderator Yuval Ofer, Meital Peleg Mizrahi, Sybil Goldfainer, Maya Erzi, Liraz Cohen Mordechai and Mia Hershkovitz

The members of TAU’s PlanNetZero Climate Crisis Initiative hope to see positive results from various events that are taking place in connection with the Sharm El Sheikh climate summit: “The official discussions are an important part of the world’s countries handling of climate change,” notes Dr. Shula Goulden from TAU’s Environmental Studies and the PlanNetZero Climate Crisis Initiative. “This is the first conference that focuses, and rightly so, on adaptation and climate change assessments. It should produce practical and immediate ways to provide support to populations that are already affected by the crisis. However, the conference consists of much more than the official discussions. In addition to those, there are also hundreds, if not thousands, of affiliated events and side events taking place. We hope that this extensive activity will contribute to more awareness and political pressure on various sectors, enabling the adoption of stricter policies.”

“The very existence of such a large event affects activities in the world in various ways, including a lot of activity at the national and local level. An example of this, is the joint effort on behalf of many academic institutions in Israel in preparation for the summit, with the organization of events on campuses, demonstrating awareness and commitment to the issue.”

 

Dr. Ram Fishman, who is usually travelling with student delegations in developing countries, gave a TED-style talk in TAU’s Social Sciences Library

In many disciplines, it takes time for academic research to reach professional audiences. In the context of the climate crisis, however, PlanNetZero members would like to speed up the process: “On this week’s Climate Day event, we organized two consultation events: one of them was with the Tel Aviv Municipality, on the topic of promoting a sustainable lifestyle in the city, and the other was with the Ministry of Environmental Protection and representatives of companies in the financial sector, on new tools for managing climate risks.”

“The participation of researchers and academics from the fields of policy, law and economics create new leverage, because today’s big challenge in the field of climate is not technological but political, economic and social,” they conclude.

 

 

Academics from various disciplines gathered to address the crisis. From left to right: Prof. Alon Tal, Dr. Dorit Kerret , Prof. Marcelo Sternberg and Prof. Iftach Yacoby, and Meital Peleg Mizrahi 

Pressure Chamber Therapy Effective in Improvement of Autism

TAU study shows that treatment may significantly improve social abilities and condition of the autistic brain.

A new Tel Aviv University study succeeded in significantly improving social skills and the condition of the autistic brain through pressure chamber therapy. The study was conducted on lab models of autism. In it, the researchers identified changes in the brain, including a reduction in neuroinflammation, which is known to be associated with autism. Moreover, a significant improvement was found in the social functioning of the animal models treated in the pressure chamber. The study’s success has many implications regarding the applicability and understanding of treating autism using pressure chamber therapy.

The breakthrough was made under the leadership of doctoral student Inbar Fischer, from the laboratory of Dr. Boaz Barak of Tel Aviv University’s Sagol School of Neuroscience and School of Psychological Sciences. The research was published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences.

Considered Safe

Fischer and Barak explain that hyperbaric medicine is a form of therapy in which patients are treated in special chambers where the atmospheric pressure is higher than the pressure we experience at sea level, and in addition are delivered 100 percent oxygen to breathe.

Hyperbaric medicine is considered safe and is already being used to treat a long list of medical conditions, including here in Israel. In recent years, scientific evidence has been accumulating that unique protocols of hyperbaric treatments improve the supply of blood and oxygen to the brain, thereby improving brain function.

Improving Brain Function

“The medical causes of autism are numerous and varied, and ultimately create the diverse autistic spectrum with which we are familiar,” explains Dr. Barak:. “About 20% of autistic cases today are explained by genetic causes, that is, those involving genetic defects, but not necessarily ones that are inherited from the parents. Despite the variety of sources of autism, the entire spectrum of behavioral problems associated with it are still included under the single broad heading of ‘autism,’ and the treatments and medications offered do not necessarily correspond directly to the reason why the autism developed.”

In the preliminary phase of the study, a girl carrying the mutation in the SHANK3 gene, which is known to lead to autism, received treatments in the pressure chamber, conducted by Prof. Shai Efrati, director of the Sagol Center for Hyperbaric Medicine at the Shamir “Assaf Harofeh” Medical Center, faculty member at the Sagol School of Neuroscience, and a partner in the study. After the treatments, it was evident that the girl’s social abilities and brain function had improved considerably.

In the next stage, and in order to comprehend the success of the treatment more deeply, the team of researchers at Dr. Barak’s laboratory sought to understand what being in a pressurized chamber does to the brain. To this end, the researchers used lab models carrying the same genetic mutation in the SHANK3 gene as that carried by the girl who had been treated. The experiment comprised a protocol of 40 one-hour treatments in a pressure chamber over several weeks.

“We discovered that treatment in the oxygen-enriched pressure chamber reduces inflammation in the brain and leads to an increase in the expression of substances responsible for improving blood and oxygen supply to the brain, and therefore brain function,” explains Dr. Barak. “In addition, we saw a decrease in the number of microglial cells, immune system cells that indicate inflammation, which is associated with autism.”

 Increased Social Interest

“Beyond the neurological findings we discovered, what interested us more than anything was to see whether these improvements in the brain also led to an improvement in social behavior, which is known to be impaired in autistic individuals,” adds Dr. Barak. “To our surprise, the findings showed a significant improvement in the social behavior of the animal models of autism that underwent treatment in the pressure chamber compared to those in the control group, who were exposed to air at normal pressure, and without oxygen enrichment. The animal models that underwent treatment displayed increased social interest, preferring to spend more time in the company of new animals to which they were exposed in comparison to the animal models from the control group.”

Inbar Fischer concludes, “the mutation in the animal models is identical to the mutation that exists in humans. Therefore, our research is likely to have clinical implications for improving the pathological condition of autism resulting from this genetic mutation, and likely also of autism stemming from other causes. Because the pressure chamber treatment is non-intrusive and has been found to be safe, our findings are encouraging and demonstrate that this treatment may improve these behavioral and neurological aspects in humans as well, in addition to offering a scientific explanation of how they occur in the brain.”

Featured image: Members of the TAU research team (left to right): Dr. Nour Ershaid, Prof. Neta Erez and Lea Monteran (Photo Credit: TAU)

Breakthrough Treatment May Improve Efficacy of Chemotherapy in Breast Cancer Patients

TAU-developed treatment may reduce risk for lung metastasis following chemo from 52% to only 6%.

A new treatment developed at Tel Aviv University may significantly enhance the efficacy of chemotherapy in breast cancer patients, reducing the risk for lung metastasis following chemo from 52% to only 6%. Conducted in a lab model, the study identified the mechanism that generates a cancer-promoting inflammatory environment in response to chemotherapy. Moreover, the researchers found that by adding an anti-inflammatory agent to the chemotherapy, metastasis can be prevented.

The study was led by Prof. Neta Erez of the Department of Pathology at TAU’s Sackler Faculty of Medicine, and researchers from her group: Lea Monteran, Dr. Nour Ershaid, Yael Zait, and Ye’ela Scharff, in collaboration with Prof. Iris Barshack of the Sheba Medical Center and Dr. Amir Sonnenblick of the Tel Aviv Sourasky (Ichilov) Medical Center. The paper was published in Nature Communications. The study was funded by ERC, the Israel Cancer Association, and the Emerson Cancer Research Fund.

The Dark Side of Chemo

“In many cases of breast cancer, surgical removal of the primary tumor is followed by a chemotherapy regimen intended to kill any remaining malignant cells – either left behind by the surgeon or already colonizing in other organs,” explains Prof. Erez. “However, while effectively killing cancer cells, chemotherapy also has some undesirable and even harmful side effects, including damage to healthy tissues. The most dangerous of these, is probably internal inflammations that might paradoxically help remaining cancer cells to form metastases in distant organs. The goal of our study was to discover how this happens and try to find an effective solution.”

To this end, the researchers created an animal model for breast cancer metastasis. The animals received the same treatment as human patients: surgical removal of the primary tumor, then chemotherapy, followed by monitoring to detect metastatic relapse as early as possible. The disturbing results: metastatic tumors were detected in the lungs of a large percentage of the treated animals – similar to the percentage found in the control group.

 

“In humans, this interval between chemotherapy and detection of metastatic tumors is an inaccessible ‘black box.’ Working with an animal model, we could check what happens inside this ‘box’.” Prof. Neta Erez

 

What’s Going on Inside the “Black Box”?

To decipher these adverse effects, the researchers examined the animals’ lungs at an intermediate stage – when tiny micro-metastases may have already developed, but even advanced imaging technologies like CT cannot detect them.

“In humans, this interval between chemotherapy and detection of metastatic tumors is an inaccessible ‘black box’,” says Prof. Erez. “Working with an animal model we could check what happens inside this ‘box’.”

“We discovered a previously unknown mechanism: the chemotherapy generates an inflammatory response in connective tissue cells called ‘fibroblasts’, causing them to summon immune cells from the bone marrow. This, in turn, creates an inflammatory environment that supports the micro-metastases, helping them grow into full-fledged metastatic tumors. In this way, the chemotherapy, administered as a means for combating cancer, achieves the opposite result.”

The researchers also identified the mechanism through which fibroblasts recruit immune cells, and ‘train’ them to support the cancer. “We found that in response to chemotherapy, the fibroblasts secrete ‘complement proteins’ – proteins that mediate cell recruitment and intensify inflammation, often by summoning white blood cells to damaged or infected areas, a process called chemotaxis,” notes Prof. Erez. “When the immune cells reach the lungs, they create an inflammatory environment that supports cancer cells and helps them grow.”

 

“We identified an inflammatory mechanism through which chemotherapy inadvertently supports the growth of metastatic tumors, and also discovered an effective solution: combining chemotherapy with an inflammation inhibitor.” Prof. Neta Erez

 

Potential to Save Many Lives

To combat this newly discovered process, the researchers combined the chemotherapy administered to the animals with a drug that blocks the activity of complement proteins.

The results were very encouraging: following the combined treatment, the percentage of lab models developing no metastases rose from 32% to 67%; and the percentage of those with extensive cancer colonization in their lungs decreased from 52% with regular chemotherapy to 6% when the inflammation inhibitor was added.

“We discovered the mechanism behind a severe problem in the treatment of breast cancer: many patients develop metastatic tumors following removal of the primary tumor plus chemotherapy,” says Prof. Erez, and concludes: “We identified an inflammatory mechanism through which chemotherapy inadvertently supports the growth of metastatic tumors, and also discovered an effective solution: combining chemotherapy with an inflammation inhibitor. We hope that our findings will enable more effective treatment for breast cancer, and perhaps other types of cancer as well – to prevent metastatic relapse and save numerous lives worldwide.”  

Featured image: Members of the TAU research team (left to right): Dr. Nour Ershaid, Prof. Neta Erez and Lea Monteran

Drones Against Illegal Waste Dumpsites

Use of drones to map illegal waste dumps could promote recycling and save Israel NIS 200 million.

A new study conducted at Tel Aviv University has mapped illegal construction waste dumps using drones. The researchers attempted to assess the actual amounts of construction waste dumped at unauthorized sites, as well as the contents of the waste piles. Analysis of the data shows that through aerial mapping and use of environmental-economic models developed in the study, it will be possible to recycle a significant amount of the waste, saving the state approximately NIS 200 million.

The study was led by Dr. Vered Blass and doctoral student Adi Mager of the Porter School of Environment and Earth Sciences, Tel Aviv University. The study was published in the international journal Remote Sensing.

An Expensive Process

The current situation poses a severe problem for local authorities, who cannot handle the scope of criminal activity, and therefore compelled to remove and treat the environmental hazard on their own expenses.

The moment a local authority identifies an illegal construction waste dump, it takes action to transfer the waste to an authorized site. This involves a complex process including, initially, measuring the amount of waste, collecting, and transporting it to the authorized treatment facility, and then cleaning and rehabilitating the contaminated soil.

This is an expensive process involving significant budgetary spending by municipalities, which usually pass the burden on to the taxpayers.

 

 

“The idea behind the study was to try and adopt the principles of circular economy (CE) that promotes strategies for savings in resources for reuse, repair, remanufacture, and recycling of materials and products.” Dr. Vered Blass

 

 

Recycling Instead of Landfilling

The alternative? “By integrating existing aerial mapping technologies, with economic-environmental models, we can promote recycling of illegal waste and save public funds,” offers Dr. Blass. “Instead of paying landfill fees and polluting the soil, the waste may be recycled at a lower cost while reducing environmental damage.”

According to Dr. Blass, the study, defined as a pilot, included mapping by drones of four illegal waste dumps located in Northern Israel. The researchers mapped and analyzed a total area of 3600 square meters. They classified and categorized all types of waste separately, manually, to determine their area, volume, and properties.

 

Dr. Vered Blass

 

Finally, the researchers created a profile for each waste site separately. The profile included an economic analysis of the value of the different types of waste found at the site, and the potential environmental savings of recycling compared to landfilling.

“The idea behind the study was to try and adopt the principles of circular economy (CE) that promotes strategies for savings in resources for reuse, repair, remanufacture, and recycling of materials and products,” explains Dr. Blass. “By using these principles, we sought to save the authorities a lot of money – instead of paying high landfill fees for all the illegal construction waste, which can be recycled.”

 

 

“Our pilot findings showed the advantages of multidisciplinary tools and methodologies in helping to identify potential resources, providing economic data for cleanup proposals, and of course, enabling the monitoring and evaluation of the area after the cleanup, thus saving time and money for the authorities, entrepreneurs and other stakeholders in the field” Dr. Vered Blass

 

 

Saving Time and Money

According to the researchers, the study provides missing data that may prove useful to the state, local authorities, commercial companies, and contractors, as well as companies that monitor and manage recycled waste and raw materials.

In addition, the researchers touch on the direct correlation between meeting international sustainable development goals (SDG), monitoring, and mapping illegal waste.

“This study will provide local authorities with a better understanding of the quantities and qualities of waste, as well as the costs associated with the necessary cleanups,” says doctoral student Adi Mager. “Moreover, construction waste in open areas occupies valuable real estate. Mapping the area rapidly and efficiently will assist in evacuating the land and preparing it for future uses.”

“Our pilot findings showed the advantages of multidisciplinary tools and methodologies in helping to identify potential resources, providing economic data for cleanup proposals, and of course, enabling the monitoring and evaluation of the area after the cleanup, thus saving time and money for the authorities, entrepreneurs and other stakeholders in the field,” concludes Dr. Blass. 

Featured image: Illegal construction waste dumps (photo: Adi Mager)

TAU 7th in World for Entrepreneurship

TAU ranked first in Israel and first among universities outside the U.S. that produce successful entrepreneurs.

TAU alumni ranked at the top of global entrepreneurship: 814 entrepreneurs with bachelor’s degrees from Tel Aviv University have established 677 companies and raised a total of $26.5 billion. After staring as number 8 in the world for 4 consecutive years, this brings Tel Aviv University to 7th place in the world and 1st place outside the U.S. in  the prestigious PitchBook ranking. 

TAU alumni with graduate degrees rank on 14th place, with 726 entrepreneurs who established 616 companies and raised $16.5 billion. 

TAU also leads in PitchBook‘s world ranking of female entrepreneurs, placing 20th for TAU’s female undergraduate alumni and ranking 23rd for female graduates.

Every year, Pitchbook, a business data research firm, publishes an annual ranking of the world’s top 100 universities based on the number of alumni entrepreneurs who have founded venture capital backed companies. Several elite American universities are at the top of the list: 1. Stanford, 2. UC Berkeley, 3. Harvard, and 4. MIT. TAU ranks higher than leading universities such as Yale (10th place), UCLA (11th place), and Princeton (12th place). 

The following large companies established by TAU alumni are noted by the PitchBook ranking: Generate ($3.3 billion), Fireblocks ($1.2 billion), Trax ($1.1 billion), Varo ($992 million),and Celsius ($948 million).

Four additional Israeli universities are also included in Pitchbook’s top 100 list: Technion (15th place), Hebrew University (31st), Reichman University (38) and Ben-Gurion University (45). 

“The credit for this enormous success goes to our alumni, first and foremost, but TAU also does its best to instill a spirit of entrepreneurship and innovation in its students,” says Prof. Ariel Porat, President of TAU. “It is no coincidence that we have a superb Entrepreneurship Center on campus, expected to grow even further in the next few years, and to equip TAU students from the exact sciences, the social sciences, and the humanities with the tools and motivation that are so essential for entrepreneurial endeavors in all areas, both technological and social.”

Prof. Moshe Zviran, Head of Entrepreneurship and Innovation at TAU comments, “TAU continues to establish itself as Israel’s main entrepreneurial university and a world leader in producing entrepreneurs who found companies, raise venture capital, and boost Israel’s economy. TAU’s climb to 7th place in the PitchBook rankings is one more indicator of the high quality of our alumni, as well as the contribution of the entrepreneurial ecosystem on campus that proactively promotes this approach among both students and faculty.”

Read the full 2022 ranking list here >>

20 Mayors Begin TAU’s World-class Training Program

The Bloomberg-Sagol Center for City Leadership announces inaugural class.

As the fall semester began on TAU campus, the University’s Bloomberg-Sagol Center for City Leadership opened its doors to the program’s first cohort of students. 20 mayors and municipal heads from across Israel arrived to participate in the intensive, yearlong executive education and training program that will equip them with the tools and skills needed to enhance the residents’ quality of life.

Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Sagol family launched the Center earlier this year as a major new effort to strengthen local leadership across Israel. Inspired by the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative, the new program aims to help mayors of cities across Israel – north and south, large, and small, Jewish- and Arab-led – deliver better and more equitable public services to residents, strengthen social bonds, and deepen ties to the global community of innovative city leaders.

“Israel’s local authorities have a much greater impact on citizens’ lifestyles and quality of life than the central government,” said Prof. Ariel Porat, TAU President. “The quality of sanitation, transportation, welfare, education, and health services mostly depends on the local authority’s performance. The City Leadership Program aims to improve the management of local authorities in Israel, thereby enhancing the quality of life of Israelis throughout the country.”

Global Impact

“The Bloomberg-Sagol Center builds on all the work Bloomberg Philanthropies is doing to help local leaders around the world innovate, lead effectively, and share ideas for tackling complex problems,” said Michael R. Bloomberg, 108th Mayor of New York City and founder of Bloomberg Philanthropies and Bloomberg L.P. “This inaugural class brings together a dynamic group of mayors from across Israel. We’re looking forward to working with them, and to seeing the results in their cities and beyond.”

The Center was established at TAU’s Coller School of Management and is led by Prof. Moshe Zviran, the former Dean of the School, who serves as the Head of the Center and the Academic Director of the Program. The mayors will conclude the year with additional training and networking hosted by Bloomberg Philanthropies and Harvard University in New York City and Boston, in the United States.

Local Innovation

“When I became aware of the Bloomberg Harvard City Initiative, I realized how suitable it can be for us in Israel, by creating a long-lasting impact on our cities and local leadership”, said Yossi Sagol, Chairman of Sagol Holdings Corporation and the founding partner of the Program.

 

“Mayors serve as the first and most significant line of leadership for the citizens in Israel, and they manage the most important matters for its residents. Through learning and training at the Bloomberg-Sagol Program, they will be exposed to the best and latest management practices in the business world and will be able to apply their newly gained skills in local leadership. Doing so, we hope, will support bold public innovation and create more effective city halls. Our partnership with Mike Bloomberg is very exciting and will undoubtedly strengthen the leadership of the local authorities across Israel.”

Meet the Students

The first class of the City Leadership Program includes: Ran Konik, Mayor of Givatayim; Itzik Danino, Mayor of Ofakim;Samir Mahamid, Mayor of Umm al-Fahm; Rotem Yadlin, Head of the Gezer Regional Council; Liat Shochat, Mayor of Or Yehuda Municipality; Israel Gantz, Head of the Benjamin Regional Council; Israel Gal, Mayor of Kiryat Ono; Tzvika Brot, Mayor of Bat-Yam; Avraham Rubinstein, Mayor of Bnei Barak; Abed Elaziz Nasasara, Head of the Local Council of Kseifa; Israel Parosh, Mayor of Elad; Oshrat Gani Gonen, Head of the South Sharon Regional Council; Moshe Fadlon, Mayor of Herzliya;  Shoshi Kahlon Kidor, Mayor of Kfar Yona; Niv Wiesel, Head of the Mateh Yehuda Regional Council; Moshe Koninski, Mayor of Karmiel; Rafik Halabi, head of the Dalit El-Karmel Local Council; Nissan Ben Hamo, Mayor of Arad; Shay Hajaj, Head of the Merhavim Regional Council; and Yaala Maklis, Mayor of Yehud-Monoson.

Israel has 257 cities and towns with mayors. Each class of the City Leadership Program will accommodate 20 participants, who will invite two key members of their team to attend as well.

Featured image: Israeli Mayors and heads of municipalities participating in the yearlong training program (Photo: Maxim Golovanov)

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