Tag: Covid-19

TAU Researcher Invents Environmentally-Friendly Sanitizer

Innovative method to convert waste into disinfectant is a pandemic game-changer

The fight against coronavirus began with disinfection and hygiene. Prof. Hadas Mamane, head of the Water-Tech Laboratory at TAU’s Iby & Aladar Fleischman Faculty of Engineering is now helping to secure Israel’s sanitizer supply in the ongoing battle against the spread of coronavirus. Her lab is running a pilot program to convert local waste into alcohol that will be used for sanitation and disinfection. In the COVID-19 era, global demand for alcohol-based sanitizer soared, as proper hygiene and sanitation became mainstays of prevention efforts. Yet at the same time, many countries, including Israel, imposed import restrictions, making the procurement of sanitation and disinfectant materials difficult. To address this shortage, a team led Prof. Mamane adapted an existing waste conversion model to produce alcohol disinfectant locally. Prof. Mamane’s team began by running an experiment to make ethanol, an alcohol derived from corn and the most common ingredient in hand sanitizers and other disinfectants. As a local alternative to corn, Prof. Mamane checked a variety of waste sources. She experimented with waste from municipal and agricultural pruning, hay, paper and cardboard. Prof. Mamane is continuing the project by using more types of green waste, testing the process on a larger scale and studying its cost-effectiveness. Because her method relies on locally sourced material, it offers a decentralized model for ethanol production that reduces reliance on imports. Mamane’s production method not only reuses the almost endless supply of garbage, but also reduces overload on waste management systems. The process does not use hazardous materials or cause pollution, can be applied on a small or large scale, and is applicable to varied types and large amounts of waste. This initiative has additional widespread benefits: “A decentralized [recycling] process enables farmers to avoid burning their agricultural waste, and instead offers environmental and social benefits to the community and, most importantly, protects public health,” says Prof. Mamane. This research is a collaboration between Prof. Mamane and the University of Haifa-Oranim College, and is funded by the Ministry of Science. Featured image: Prof. Hadas Mamane (Credit: Vered Cohen-Yaniv)

From Law and Education to Nursing

Number of TAU academics transferring to nursing tripled following Corona crisis.

While our health care system is struggling to keep up with the pressure, hundreds of graduates from the Department of Nursing at The Stanley Steyer School of Health Professions will soon join the efforts against the pandemic and can become a significant reinforcement for the health system and society in general.

Covid-induced Boost in Appreciation 

New data from Tel Aviv University shows there has been a 50% increase in nursing students over the last two years, up from 223 students in 2019 to 327 students in 2021.

Moreover, the number of academics who decided to transfer to the nursing profession has tripled from 39 in 2019 to 102 in 2021. According to the Department of Nursing, the boost is mainly a result of the appreciation for the work of nurses during the Corona crisis.

Academics who have chosen to convert to nursing come from a variety of disciplines, including: law, education, psychology and behavioral sciences.

Job Security and Professional Satisfaction

Dr. Michal Itzhaki, Chair of the Department of Nursing, welcomes the increase, describing the incoming academics as “a high-quality workforce, which has recalculated a route following a desire for job security, managerial promotion and professional satisfaction, and which we are happy to welcome.”

“Academic nurses are engaged in a critical and vital profession, which significance has intensified in the past year and a half. Nursing students see their studies as a mission, based on the highest level of professionalism, humanity and concern for others. We’re proud of every graduate who goes on to integrate into the workforce.”

Dr. Anat Amit Aharon, Head of the Academic Transfer Program, adds: “In the retraining studies in the department, we work closely with two leading Israeli hospitals, Sheba and Ichilov. Together, we guide the students to academic excellence. Our graduates all made a brave decision, sometimes after successful careers, to transition to study nursing. They deserve appreciation.”

TAU Wins 3M Grant to Accelerate COVID-19 Vaccine Development

Grantee Professor Jonathan Gershoni aims to block the coronavirus by targeting its most vulnerable spot

Science-based technology company 3M has awarded a significant philanthropic research grant of $400,000 (1.36 million NIS) to the Shmunis School of Biomedicine and Cancer Research at Tel Aviv University to advance scientific knowledge in the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The grant from 3M, which bases its Israel operations in Herzliya, is part of a $5 million initiative to support research programs with a focus on treatments and vaccine development for COVID-19 at leading educational establishments around the world. TAU secured the funding through an international competitive process; this reflects the high esteem in which the University’s scientific research programs are held. The grant was disbursed via 3M’s grant-making partner, GlobalGiving, to ensure thorough vetting, due diligence and reporting. The research project is being led by Professor Jonathan Gershoni, a renowned expert in viral pathogens, who said: “Publication of the SARS CoV2 genome on January 9, 2020, launched the race for a COVID-19 vaccine. Tens of vaccine candidates have already entered clinical trials, the leaders of which are actively recruiting thousands of volunteers worldwide for phase III efficacy trials. All these efforts use the viral spike protein as their vaccine’s active ingredient. This relatively large protein is made up of 1200 amino acids arranged in groups of three, decorating the virus with a crown-like appearance. “The spike protein presents many targets that have evolved to confuse and distract our immune system and to steer us away from the virus’ most vulnerable soft spot, its receptor-binding motif (RBM). In order for the virus to successfully infect us and cause COVID- 19, it must first latch onto a unique protein, the ACE2 receptor, which is present on the surface of our lung cells. For this, the viral RBM, a tiny but highly complex structure, must detect ACE2, bind to it and mediate infection. A vaccine that exclusively targets the RBM should be extremely potent in affording maximal protection against SARS CoV2 by stimulating our immune system in the most efficient and cost-effective way. “We have developed a novel patented technology to ‘surgically’ isolate the RBM from the rest of the spike protein. This grant from 3M will significantly enhance our efforts to produce a highly focused, potent and especially safe vaccine for COVID 19,” he added. Prof. Gershoni’s Lab team (Photographer: Moshe Bedarshi) This study is anchored in more than 30 years of research on the interaction of RNA viruses with their receptors and the immune response against them, noted Professor Tal Pupko, Head of the Shmunis School at TAU. “The 3M grant will dramatically accelerate the pace of research for overcoming COVID-19,” said Professor Pupko, adding that Tel Aviv University was particularly proud to be included in this important global initiative by 3M. “Science is at the heart of 3M and we are committed to advancing the rapid study of this virus as part of our continued effort to combat the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Isabelle Zadikov-Carp, 3M Israel Country Leader. “It’s important that 3M holds true to its core values by supporting our communities and improving lives. We hope that the grant to TAU will facilitate the development of an effective vaccine and we will be keenly following the progress and outcomes of Professor Gershoni’s research with interest.” Featured image: Professor Jonathan Gershoni (Photographer: Moshe Bedarshi)

Seaweed – A Promising Defense Against Covid-19

Natural substance from marine algae prevents infection.

The lack of access to Covid-19 vaccines results in the deaths of many people and even accelerates the development of new variants. Researchers from Tel Aviv University, led by Prof. Alexander Golberg of the Porter School of the Environment and Earth Sciences, have found that a substance called ‘ulvan’ extracted from edible marine algae prevents the infection of cells with the coronavirus.

The researchers believe this affordable and natural material may help solve serious problems, such as the spread of the coronavirus in large populations, especially in developing countries with limited access to vaccines. The study is still in its early stages, but the researchers are hopeful that the discovery will be used in the future to develop an accessible and effective drug to prevent coronavirus infection.

Affordable Solutions Needed

Prof. Golberg explains: “It is already clear today that the coronavirus vaccine alone, despite its effectiveness, will not be able to prevent the global spread of the pandemic. As long as the lack of access to vaccines remains unaddressed for billions of people in underprivileged communities, the virus is expected to develop increasingly more variants, which may be resistant to vaccines – and the war against the virus will continue.”

“It is very important to find affordable and accessible solutions to suit even economically weak populations in developing countries. With this aim, our lab tested a substance that could be extracted from a common seaweed. Ulvan is extracted from marine algae called Ulva, an edible ‘sea lettuce’ common in places like Japan, New Zealand and Hawaii,” he adds.

Golberg explains that his lab’s rational for exploring the potential use of ulvan for coronavirus defenses was motivated by previous discoveries of its effectiveness in preventing plant viruses along with some human viruses.

Successful Prevention Against Covid-19

To test their hypothesis, the TAU researchers grew Ulva algae and extracted the ulvan from it before sending samples to the Southern Research Institute in Alabama, which deals with infectious diseases. The US researchers built a lab model to test the activity of the substance produced by Prof. Golberg’s team. The cells were exposed to both the coronavirus and the ulvan. It was found that, in the presence of ulvan, the coronavirus did not infect the cells. As opposed to extracts from other algae tested, the substance demonstrated success in preventing coronavirus infection. 

According to the researchers, “The substance was produced in raw production, meaning it is a mixture of many natural substances, and we must find out which one is responsible for preventing cellular infection. After that, we will have to examine how, if at all, it works in humans.”

The research team consisted of Shai Sheffer, Arthur Rubin and Alexander Chemodanov from Dr. Golberg’s laboratory, Prof. Michael Gozin from the School of Chemistry and the Tel Aviv Universicy Center for Nanoscience and Nanotechnology. They collaborated with researchers from the Hebrew University, the Meir Medical Center in Kfar Saba, and the Southern Research Institute in Alabama, USA. The article was published in the journal PeerJ.

Featured image: Specially designed closed system with photobioreactors for seaweed production at TAU

Study: Women Suffer More from COVID-related Orofacial Pain

New TAU dental research finds that pandemic stress results in excessive teeth grinding and facial pain.

A new study from the Goldschleger School of Dental Medicine at Tel Aviv University’s Sackler Faculty of Medicine found that during Israel’s first lockdown the general population exhibited a considerable rise in orofacial pain, as well as jaw-clenching in the daytime and teeth-grinding at night – physical symptoms often caused by stress and anxiety. The study was led by Dr. Alona Emodi-Perlman and Prof. Ilana Eli of TAU’s School of Dental Medicine, in collaboration with Dr. Nir Uziel and Dr. Efrat Gilon of TAU, and researchers from the University of Wroclaw in Poland, who examined the Polish population’s reaction to the pandemic. The paper was published in the Journal of Clinical Medicine in October 2020.

Researchers Dr. Emodi-Perlman and Prof. Eli specialize in facial and jaw pain, with emphasis on TMD (Temporo-Mandibular Disorders) – chronic pain in the facial muscles and jaw joints, as well as Bruxism – excessive teeth-grinding and/or jaw-clenching, which can significantly damage the teeth and jaw joints. These syndromes are known to be greatly impacted by emotional factors such as stress and anxiety.

Accordingly, the researchers decided to conduct a study examining the presence and possible worsening of these symptoms in the general population during the first COVID-19 lockdown, due to the national emergency and rise in anxiety levels. The questionnaire was answered by a total of 1,800 respondents in Israel and Poland.

In Israel, a significant rise was found in all symptoms, compared to data from studies conducted before the pandemic:

  • In Israel’s general population:  The prevalence of TMD symptoms rose from about 35% in the past to 47% (increase of 12%) during the pandemic; the prevalence of jaw-clenching in the daytime rose from about 17% to 32% (increase of 15%); and teeth-grinding at night rose from about 10% to 36% (increase of 25%). Altogether a rise of 10%-25% was recorded in these symptoms, which often reflect emotional stress. People who had suffered from these symptoms before the pandemic exhibited a rise of about 15% in their severity.
  • The researchers found a high correlation between the symptoms on the one hand and gender and anxiety level on the other: Women suffer from these symptoms much more than men, and people with high levels of anxiety tend to develop them more than those with lower anxiety levels.
  • Dividing the respondents into age-groups also generated interesting results, with the middle group (35-55) reporting a much greater rise in symptoms compared to the younger (18-34) and older (56 and over) groups. At the bottom line, the group that suffered most from the symptoms during the first lockdown were women aged 35-55: 48% suffered from TMD, 46% clenched their jaws in the daytime, and about 50% ground their teeth at night.

In addition, comparing findings in Israel to results in Poland, the researchers found that probability of TMD and Bruxism was much higher among respondents in Poland.

Dr. Emodi-Perlman and Prof. Eli conclude: “Our study, conducted during the first lockdown of the COVID-19 pandemic, found a significant rise in the symptoms of jaw and facial pain, jaw-clenching and teeth-grinding – well-known manifestations of anxiety and emotional distress. We found that women are more likely than men to suffer from these symptoms, and that the 35-55 age group suffered more than the younger (18-34) and older (56 and over) groups. We believe that our findings reflect the distress felt by the middle generation, who were cooped up at home with young children, without the usual help from grandparents, while also worrying about their elderly parents, facing financial problems and often required to work from home under trying conditions.”

Google Awards Competitive Grant to Tel Aviv University for COVID-19 Research

The grant is for high-impact research using Data Science and Artificial Intelligence (AI) to combat the coronavirus

Google.org, a Google fund aimed at supporting data based solutions for some of humanity’s greatest challenges, chose to award a competitive grant to Tel Aviv University for high-impact research employing Data Science and Artificial Intelligence (AI) to combat COVID-19. This step is one of many taken by Google in its ongoing effort to contribute to the global battle against the pandemic while also promoting its “AI for Social Good” research program – headed by, among others, Prof. Yossi Matias, Vice President at Google and CEO of the Research and Development Center at Google Israel. The Israeli center is a key player in Google’s endeavors to combat COVID-19, and also to help protect populations faced with natural disasters such as floods, earthquakes and wildfires.

The grant is being awarded to TAU’s AI and Data Science Center for research employing AI techniques and advanced statistical methods to improve COVID-19 public health measures. Using data from government ministries (Health, Transport, etc.) and the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics, the researchers intend to build an accurate high-resolution model of the spread of the pandemic and then use it to plan and test various methods for stopping infection. This interdisciplinary research brings together TAU scientists from the Porter School of the Environment and Earth Sciences, the School of Public Health, the Department of Statistics and Operations Research, the Blavatnik School of Computer Science, the School of Electrical Engineering, and the Gertner Institute for Epidemiology and Health Policy Research.

Prof. Meir Feder, Head of the AI and Data Science Center at Tel Aviv University: “We’re proud that Google has chosen to award this significant grant to our center in order to expand COVID-19 research in Israel. This grant will support the development of AI and Reinforcement Learning based tools for planning and examining the effects of different steps on the spread of the pandemic. The research findings will be used by decision-makers in their efforts to establish policies for stopping the pandemic.”

Featured image: Prof. Meir Feder, Head of the AI and Data Science Center at Tel Aviv University

TAU Experts on Omicron: “Don’t Panic”

Our COVID-19 researchers weigh in on the latest strain.

As scientists race to understand the newest Omicron variant of COVID-19, Tel Aviv University experts share insights—largely reassuring—on the situation. The latest coronavirus strain dominating headlines was first discovered in South Africa in November. Cases have since emerged around the globe, including in Israel. Under the auspices of TAU’s Center for Combating Pandemics, dozens of teams across campus are contributing to global efforts to understand and combat the pandemic. Here is what they are saying about Omicron:  

“Keep Calm and Carry On”— with Protection 

Amid the media maelstrom and uncertainty surrounding Omicron, Dr. Oren Kobiler of the Sackler Faculty of Medicine proscribes the popular adage “keep calm and carry on.” 

“It is best not to panic over Omicron,” he says.​ “This new variant will not change the entire dynamic of the disease. Vaccine efficacy against severe illness was maintained against all variants so far, and it is unlikely that their efficacy will decrease against this variant.” ​

​From a biological and virological perspective, he notes that the Omicron variant is unique and needs further examination. However, the best thing for the general public to do is get fully vaccinated and wear masks. 

“The worst-case scenario is that we will face another wave of infection, but that should not lead to higher rates of mortality due to current vaccination rates,” he says.  

Kobiler, a virology expert, says that Israel is among countries with the highest rates of COVID-19 booster vaccination among its population. “Several immunological studies indicated that this gives us an edge for fighting new variants.” 

“Until everyone is vaccinated, though, we will keep seeing more mutations and variants,” he stresses, adding that widespread inoculation is particularly critical in developing countries where infection and mortality rates are significantly higher than in wealthier nations.  

Get Booster Shots ASAP 

  Prof. Eran Bacharach

The emergence of the Omicron variant has raised questions about the efficacy of booster shots in their current form as opposed to revamped inoculations that may emerge in the future.

Prof. Eran Bacharach, of the Wise Faculty of Life Sciences and a member of the Israeli Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 Vaccine Advisory Team, implores the public to get third injections as soon as possible of COVID-19 vaccines rather than waiting for new versions that may be better formulated to target Omicron. 

“It will still take at least several months before new versions of COVID-19 vaccines are available on the market,” says Bacharach, the head of the molecular virology lab at the Shmunis School of Biomedicine and Cancer Research.  

Prof. Adi Stern, also of the Shmunis School, echoes Kobiler and Bacharach’s calls, adding that until there are updated vaccines, additional new variants will likely emerge. She explains that the spread of infection within a population—or “chain of infection”—is what enables the development of mutations and variants.  

“Inoculation, even with vaccines that aren’t specifically formulated to target a certain strain, is the only thing that will break these ‘chains of infection’ and prevent the emergence of new variants,” says Stern, whose lab has been studying the evolution of SARS-CoV-2, now including the origin and behavior of the Omicron variant.  

 

Prof. Adi Stern

Furthermore, she notes that current vaccines are based on the original wild-type strains seen early in the pandemic. “These vaccines have proved effective thus far in protecting against severe disease and death from existing variants, including the Delta strain. Considering all this, it’s much better to be vaccinated now to promote individual and herd immunity.” 

Minding the Balance 

Between “pandemic fatigue” and hyperbolized fears stoked by some officials, the latest variant outbreak renews questions about how to manage the situation. To avoid spurring panic, Dr. Bruria Adini cautions that public officials should not jump to conclusions about the severity of the Omicron variant when addressing the public. 

“The public needs to be a full partner in the pandemic response. If officials lose the public’s trust, the situation will deteriorate,” says Adini, head of the Department of Emergency and Disaster Management in the School of Public Health, Sackler Faculty of Medicine. 

 

Dr. Bruria Adini

Adini, who has been conducting long-term studies of COVID-19 since March 2020, surveys the public every few months to gauge their emotional status and level of resilience over time. Her research continuously incorporates new developments that contribute to public perceptions, such as the risk versus reward of vaccinating children.  

“It could be Omicron today or a new variant tomorrow, but we’ll live with COVID-19 for at least the near future,” she says.

One of the main concerns countries need to manage now is the prevention of healthcare system overloads.”Strengthening the capacity of medical systems with measures such as more ICU and internal medicine beds will foster more public resilience, which my research has found to be the greatest predictor of behavior such as agreeing to get vaccinated,” she says.  

As opposed to earlier in the pandemic, she notes that the public and governments have shifted their mindset toward coronavirus. She points to the lessening of widespread lockdowns and closures of workplaces and schools amid each new development as a positive indication of evolving pandemic responses.  

Select Omicron media coverage featuring TAU experts:  

 

Tel Aviv University joins national Coronavirus testing system

TAU’s specialized Corona Lab is expected to conduct up to 1,600 tests a day

Israel’s Health Ministry has approved opening a Tel Aviv University COVID-19 testing lab, which will allow Israel to perform 1,600 coronavirus tests a day. The TAU lab, headed Prof. Ariel Munitz of TAU’s Sackler Faculty of Medicine, was born virtually overnight of the interdisciplinary efforts of some 30 TAU researchers, graduate students and management staff of the Sackler School of Medicine and the George S. Wise Faculty of Life Sciences. “Immediately upon the outbreak of the Corona crisis, TAU focused all its resources on the national task of eradicating the epidemic,” says Tel Aviv University President Prof. Ariel Porat. “But now we have decided to go beyond what is customary in the academic world and open a fully operational laboratory for coronavirus testing. We are supplying top experts with the most innovative equipment and technology for the benefit of the Health Ministry and the public, all of whom have one clear goal – to defeat this virus.”

A medical marvel in 80 hours

The decision to establish a lab was made shortly after the coronavirus crisis broke out in Israel. From start to finish, the lab was built in a record 80 hours, with construction kicking off on Tuesday, March 24th, at 7 AM, and finishing Friday, March 27th. A Health Ministry official yesterday reviewed the lab to ensure that it meets health and safety protocols, and the lab is now fully operational. “We realized immediately how critical testing was and how we at the University could contribute to Israel’s diagnostic landscape,” explains Prof. Munitz. “We contacted University management, who got involved immediately and quickly approved a budget for the project. It was not an easy decision. It was unclear whether the Health Ministry would approve, and we did not know exactly what the protocol was or what was required — but we knew we needed to act. The safety of the team operating the lab is and remains our highest priority, and we are taking every necessary precaution in strict alignment with Health Ministry regulations. I have no doubt that our collaboration with the Health Ministry will greatly assist in advancing the national testing system.”

TAU Inaugurates Shmunis School of Biomedicine and Cancer Research

School is funded with a generous gift from the Shmunis family for research and improved treatments for cancer, COVID-19, and other diseases Tel Aviv University inaugurated the Shmunis School of Biomedicine and Cancer Research, in the presence of Israel’s Minister of Science and Technology Izhar Shay and benefactors Vlad and Sana Shmunis, online, via RingCentral. The new School, part of the George S. Wise Faculty of Life Sciences will enable a leap in biomedical research.  The School’s 300 researchers, students and staff in the fields of cancer research, cancer immunity, bioinformatics, microbiology, biotechnology, and more, will work to identify mechanisms that drive cancer and other diseases. Moreover, they will develop new pharmaceuticals and improve patients’ quality of life. This will be achieved through multidisciplinary collaborations and novel research approaches, such as single cell sequencing and bioinformatics. Vlad and Sana Shmunis expressed hope that their gift will help strengthen Israel’s standing as a global leader in cancer and molecular biomedical research. “In supporting TAU, we firmly believe that we have found an ideal partner to move the needle towards curing cancer and other terrible diseases,” said Vlad Shmunis, Chief Executive Officer and Founder of RingCentral, Inc. “Cancer is a disease that has unfortunately touched our family and far too many other families.  We hope that our gift to TAU will … improve the lives of people in Israel and around the world.” The new partnership will enable the University to recruit the finest researchers and award the annual Shmunis Fellowships to exceptional PhD students. The School will also collaborate with leading academic institutions and host Shmunis Visiting Scholars and international conferences.

Recent Shmunis School achievements:

  • The Gershoni Lab was awarded a US patent for a novel vaccine against the coronavirus
  • The Stern Lab‘s genetic sequencing of the coronavirus tracked the spread of COVID-19 in Israel
  • The Ehrlic Lab is developing virus-based immunotherapies for cancer ​
  • The Lederkremer Lab developed a therapeutic approach for Huntington’s disease, for which no treatment exists
“I am grateful to the Shmunis family for their important and generous gift,” said Prof. Ariel Porat, President of Tel Aviv University. “Meeting high standards of other renowned centers for cancer research around the globe, the School will be a hub for the brightest Israeli and international researchers to join as faculty.” This is the Shmunis family’s second major donation to the University. They founded the Shmunis Family Anthropology Institute in 2018 dedicated to the study of the ancient past. The Institute conducts numerous cutting-edge research projects in anthropology and archaeology on campus, helping to shed light on the origins of humankind. Featured image: Prof. Ariel Porat, TAU President, and Prof. Tal Pupko, head of the Shmunis School, at the Shmunis School Inauguration Ceremony. Photo: Chen Galili.

As Pandemic Persists, TAU Forges Ahead with COVID-19 Research on All Fronts

The University’s Center for Combating Pandemics leads research efforts in a range of fields.

As the COVID-19 pandemic nears the end of a second year, Tel Aviv University is maintaining its fast pace of scientific discovery in the global battle against coronavirus.  

Building on the University’s innovation record, TAU in 2020 launched the Center for Combating Pandemics. The Center harnesses the collective power of academia, hospitals, government and industry to promote research and guide government policy. It is the first entity of its kind in Israel, and potentially the world.  

Members of the Center include more than 100 research groups comprised of top TAU experts from all scientific disciplines across campus. Among them, over 60 researchers have, until now, conducted projects related to COVID-19. 

Academic Powerhouse

To date, the Center’s members have published findings from dozens of COVID-19 studies. Select examples include: 

Prof. Noam Shomron (Medicine) spearheaded a novel approach to remote monitoring of COVID-19 patients that flags early cardiovascular warnings of worsening health. More here.  

Prof. Shoshana Shiloh (Social Sciences) and team devised a model to determine the psychological and social factors that predict who will voluntarily take the COVID-19 vaccine.  

Prof. Dan Yamin’s (Engineering) lab developed a “big data” COVID-19 detection technology that could be used to reduce viral spread and help shape more efficient testing policy. More here.  

Prof. Isaac Sasson (Engineering) led a study to help improve understanding of COVID-19 mortality and age in countries with limited data. More here.  

A team led by Prof. Saharon Rosset (Exact Sciences) built a statistical model to better understand SARS-CoV-2 evolution and to predict future mutations of the virus, particularly those which lead to new variants. 

Prof. Aeyal Gross (Law) and team examined legal and public health implications of Israel’s “Green Pass” proof-of-vaccination rules under the country’s pandemic response. More here.  

Through big data methods, Prof. Tal Pupko’s (Life Sciences, Shmunis School) found that the swift implementation of lockdowns, rather than their strictness, was more effective in reducing COVID-19 mortality rates. More here.  

New Findings on the Horizon

Currently, the TAU researchers from the Center have approximately 30 ongoing coronavirus projects, including:  

Prof. Dan Peer (Life Sciences), TAU Vice President for Research & Development, is exploring best practices to advance the bourgeoning technology behind non-viral mRNA vaccines. 

Prof. Adi Stern’s (Life Sciences, Shmunis) lab has been studying the evolution of SARS-CoV-2, including the origin and behavior of the Omicron variant. More here.  

Prof. Ron Shamir (Exact Sciences) has teamed up with local hospitals to explore early predictors of deterioration in COVID-19 patients using machine-learning and “big data” methods. 

Prof. Yael Benyamini (Social Sciences) is leading a broad study on pregnancy and childbirth that surveyed the concerns of pregnant women about childbearing amid COVID-19. 

Prof. Miri Yemini (Humanities) & Dr. Efrat Blumenfeld (Arts) are leading an urban-sociological examination of remote teaching and learning during times of social distancing. 

Upcoming Events

In March, the Center plans to hold its first international conference to highlight recent COVID-19 research. The event will also recognize trailblazing research fellows and grant recipients. For registration and updates, visit: https://en-pandemics.tau.ac.il/save-the-date-first-tccp-convention .

Featured News: More than 100 research groups from all scientific disciplines across TAU campus are on the frontlines of the pandemic battle. (Photo: Moshe Bedarshi)

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