Science & Technology
- Written by Tel Aviv Municipality
Tel Aviv Selected to Host First Meeting Leading Up to UN Habitat III Conference
Bustling Israeli Metropolis to Host First of Seven Thematic Meetings at the Cities Summit Tel Aviv; Sharing Expertise on ‘Smart Civic Engagement’ as Part of the United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III)
Last week, Tel Aviv hosted the first of 7 thematic meetings leading up to the UN Conference on Housing and Sustainable Development (UN Habitat III). Held every 20 years, this is the third conference of its kind, aimed at reinvigorating global commitment to sustainable urbanization. Chosen as the Smartest City in the World in 2014, Tel Aviv was selected as the host for a thematic meeting on smart civic engagement as a beacon of civic participation and technological innovation.
Dr. Joan Clos, Executive Director of UN-Habitat and Secretary-General of Habitat III, hosted and participated on several panels, and held meetings with Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai, along with Deputy Mayors and civic officials from around the world brought together at Tel Aviv’s Cities Summit conference. Among the key questions he asked centred on the role national governments, municipal departments and technology have in promoting civic engagement.
“Civic engagement must be a key topic of the New Urban Agenda, as in order to achieve equality and accountability in cities we need civic engagement to become real. I thank the city of Tel Aviv for hosting the first Thematic Meeting towards Habitat III and for inspiring the global discussion through its innovative urban solutions”, stated Dr Clos.
The Tel Aviv Municipality has spearheaded several initiatives built around the principle of engaging with its residents and leveraging their input to improve urban life in the city. Various projects have been implemented such as the shared workspaces for example the Library and Atidim 7 where entrepreneurs can work in an interactive environment. Other initiatives include the The App2u competition which opens city databases to the public for crowdsourced solutions, as well as providing free Wi-Fi across the city. These initiatives have all fostered a climate where partnerships between citizens, businesses, third sector organisations and the municipality grow and evolve at an impressive rate.
“At the heart of our understanding of the concept of ‘smart cities’ is not necessarily the newest or most expensive technology, but rather, stripping away the barriers between the municipality and the residents to create an era where information is free-flowing, and the city is responsive to the needs of its residents,” said Hila Oren, Founder & CEO of Tel Aviv Global.
The Cities Summit Tel Aviv is a conference run by the Tel Aviv-Yafo Municipality, which aims to address all the crucial factors that are facing urban administrators in today’s complex digital world. With the goal of contributing to the city and optimizing its potential to the fullest extent, the Tel Aviv-Yafo Municipality invites entrepreneurs, politicians, city counsellors, and other senior urban administrators to join forces and come together for an opportunity to share their experiences on how to promote innovation in their cities, while engaging a broader audience in both the public and private sectors.
The Habitat III Advisory Board will discuss the inputs and recommendations gathered during the event in Tel Aviv, and issue a final declaration. This will constitute an official document to be used to feed discussions and member states negotiations leading to the formulation and agreement on the global new urban agenda. The Tel Aviv Declaration on Smart Civic Engagement will be published on 20th September, after considering contributions by partner’s constituent groups from the Thematic Meeting.
Photo by Ori Taub.
Picture of Dr. Joan Clos – the Executive Director of UN-Habitat,
- Written by MFA
A joint team from NRGene and Tel Aviv University has completed the mapping of the wild Emmer wheat genome in just one month, giving a significant boost to global research into crop improvement, improving global wheat yields and helping combat the world food crisis.
Wild Emmer, the progenitor of today's durum and bread wheat varieties, was one of the first crops to be domesticated about 10,000 years ago in the Middle East. According to Dr. Gil Ronen, CEO of NRGene, "Mapping the Emmer genome in Israel brings everything full circle. Aaron Aaronson identified the variety in Rosh Pina in 1906 and proved that Emmer wheat was the basis for the development of cultivated wheat."
Dr. Assaf Distelfeld and other scientists at Tel Avi University have been working on wheat improvement for more than 10 years. "Mapping Emmer wheat is critical to global wheat research as it is the direct ancestor of cultivated wheat," said Dr. Distelfeld, head of the Emmer wheat consortium. "With a genome map of Emmer wheat, scientists at universities, global seed research centers, and the major seed companies will be able to breed seeds with higher yields, better disease resistance, and more adaptability to extreme growing environments, such as drought or extreme heat conditions."
For example, wild Emmer wheat is rich in nutrients such as iron and zinc, and can be naturally crossed with cultivated wheat. Transferring this trait to bread could reduce malnutrition among those whose diet is based on this staple crop.
"The repercussions of the mapping will be felt around the world," continued Dr. Distelfeld. "Scientists will now be able to identify key genes in the Emmer wheat and introduce them into commercial wheat via classical breeding, creating hardier varieties across environmental conditions, ultimately increasing the global food supply."
Researchers participating in the program represent leading universities in Israel and across the globe, including Tel Aviv University, Hebrew University, Weizmann Institute of Science, University of Haifa, Ben Gurion University, and the Volcani Institute for Agricultural Research in Israel; United States Department of Agriculture; University of California, Davis; University of Illinois; University of Minnesota; University of New Hampshire; Sabanci University in Turkey; and IPK and MIPS research institutes in Germany.
NRGene, located in Ness Ziona, Israel, is a genomic big data company developing cutting-edge software and algorithms to reveal the complexity and diversity of plants and animals for the most advanced computational breeding. NRGene tools are already been employed by some of the leading seed companies as well the most influential teams in academics and NGOs.
Emmer wheat (Triticum dicoccon)
Copyright: U. S. Department of Agriculture
- Written by MFA
The World Economic Forum has published the annual list of Technology Pioneers. Two of the 14 companies chosen in the category of Life Sciences & Health are Israeli: Consumer Physics and ElMindA.
The World Economic Forum's Technology Pioneers programme recognizes early-stage companies from around the world that are involved in the design, development and deployment of new technologies, and are poised to have a significant impact on business and society. Technology Pioneers come from a wide range of sectors such as life sciences and health, energy and environment, and information technologies and new media.
The World Economic Forum has published the annual list of Technology Pioneers, which this year consists of 49 companies from 10 countries, recognizing the world's 49 most promising Technology Pioneers for 2015. Two of the 14 companies chosen in the category of Life Sciences & Health are Israeli: Consumer Physics and ElMindA.
Consumer Physics, founded in 2011 and based in Herzliya, has produced the SCiO - a tiny spectrometer that allows you to get instant relevant information about the chemical make-up of just about anything around you, sent directly to your smartphone. The world's first molecular sensor that fits in the palm of your hand, it allows users to explore objects by scanning materials.
For example, you can:
Get nutritional facts about different kinds of food: Dairy products, Fruits and vegetables. Other apps for drinks, meats, ripeness, salad dressing and more will be released on a regular basis as our database expands.
Know the well-being of popular plants.
Identify capsules containing medicine and nutritional supplements.
Help build the world's first database of matter.
Potential future use cases include analysis of pharmaceuticals, nutritional supplements, cosmetics, textiles, plants, gemstones, rubber, plastics, and the human body.
ElMindA, also based in Herzliya, was founded in 2006, with the vision of revolutionizing the management of brain disorders and injuries, by transforming state of the art neuroscience into bed-side clinical practice.
ElMindA Ltd. has developed Brain Network Activation (BNA), a non-invasive technology that allows physicians to accurately differentiate between the function of a healthy brain and the dysfunction of an injured brain. With BNA physicians can monitor change in brain networks and address brain health by identifying disease onset and assessing treatment efficacy. ElMindA is revolutionizing our ability to assess and treat the brain across a broad range of previously elusive conditions such as depression, pain, or memory loss.
ElMindA’s innovative approach and supporting data have led to partnerships with top pharmaceutical companies and leading neurological and psychiatric institutes around the world. The company has already completed several clinical trials establishing the utility of the BNA™ technology, and its technology is already being utilized by leading pharmaceutical companies as an integral part of their clinical development programs for monitoring drug effect on the brain.
BNA™ as a measure of brain state and brain changes, can potentially be applied to a wide spectrum of indications and their therapeutic interventions including Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Concussion, ADHD, pain, stroke, depression, and other Central Nervous System related conditions. In addition, the technology serves as a valuable tool in the development of CNS related treatments.
Photo: Israel's Technological Pioneers: Consumer Physics and ElMindA
Copyright: World Economic Forum Technology Pioneers
- Written by Technion
2015 Shanghai Rankings - Technion consolidates its standing among the world’s elite universities
2015 Shanghai Rankings: Technion consolidates its standing among the world’s elite universities
Technion ranks #77 overall, 18th in computer science and 44th in engineering
Technion-Israel Institute of Technology has consolidated its standing as one of the top 100 universities in the world, according to the annual Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) released by Shanghai Jiao Tong University, considered the most reliable global university ranking. The 2015 results, which were published yesterday (Saturday, Aug. 15), highlight Technion’s position among the world’s elite universities, especially in the Technion's core areas of research and education:
· In the field of computer science the Technion ranks 18th for the third consecutive year. The Technion is one of only four non-U.S. universities among the world's top 20 in computer science. This is the highest ranking of any Israeli university in a specific subject area.
· In engineering/technology, Technion is ranked #44, and is the only Israeli university to place in the top 50.
· In the overall global ranking, Technion is in 77th place, up from #78 last year. Technion broke through to the top 80 in 2012, and has remained in this elite group since.
“The Shanghai ranking is recognized as the leading academic ranking of world universities and it continues to acknowledge Israeli scientific achievements, and Technion in particular,” stated Technion President, Prof. Peretz Lavie, following the publication of this year’s rankings. “I am very pleased at Technion’s standing among the world’s elite universities in engineering and especially in the field of computer science. These achievements are a clear manifestation of Technion’s excellence. Our outstanding faculty members, researchers and staff will continue to nurture and train Technion students, who represent the future of Israeli science and technology.”
The Shanghai Ranking was established in 2003 with the aim to identity the global standing of top Chinese universities while comparing them to 500 of the world’s leading institutes. Since then it has evolved into the most influential ranking of universities worldwide. Many objective indicators are examined, including the number of faculty and alumni who have won Nobel Prizes and other prestigious awards; the number of articles published in leading scientific journals; and other per capita performance indices of the universities. More than 1000 universities are ranked by ARWU every year and the top 500 are including in the published rankings.
Heading the list of the world's top universities are leading American institutions such as Harvard, Stanford, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the University of California, Berkeley.
- Written by Technion
In light of the limitations of existing drugs for AIDS:
Researchers at the Technion Faculty of Biology offer a new strategy to combat the HIV-1 virus
The AIDS epidemic continues to take the lives of millions around the world. Despite the resistance of the body cells that are attacked, and despite the use of dedicated drugs, HIV-1 virus manages to survive and reproduce in the living cell and is displaying increasing resistance.
In light of the partial failure of existing drugs, the strategy of medical research in this field is changing: instead of focusing on the proteins of the virus (and the development of drugs that target them), the new strategy focuses on the interactions of the virus proteins with the host cell. This strategy is far more effective, since the virus cannot survive and reproduce without relying on the cellular mechanisms of the host cell.
However, the new strategy also has its weaknesses. Assistant Prof. Akram Alian of the Technion Faculty of Biology explains that when the virus encounters a barrier on its way into a cell, it looks for ‘detours’ that will enable it to take advantage of the cell nevertheless. Since there is redundancy in the host cell - various mechanisms leading to the same operation - the virus may exploit a self-mutation that could enable it to make use of that detour. “Our hypothesis is that the redundancy in the cellular pathways may represent a survival mechanism that allows the virus to take advantage of a wide variety of similar processes,” says Assistant Prof. Alian. “The virus can use these detours when the favored route is blocked by natural cellular mechanisms or artificial drugs and under other circumstances in which it is better for the virus to circumvent the obstacles of the cellular environment and the various stages of replication.”
Assistant Prof. Alian and research assistant Dr. Ailie Marx present an abstract of the innovative concept in a paper that was published in the May issue of the Journal of Virology. Janine McCaughey, a visiting student in the lab, illustrates this idea with a drawing of HIV-1 as an octopus whose arms represent takeover paths. The illustration appears on the cover of the issue (http://jvi.asm.org/content/89/12.cover-expansion).
An earlier article, published in the journal Cell Structure in October 2014, reviewed a new approach to AIDS research developed by scientists at Assistant Prof. Alian’s laboratory. The researchers conducted a comparison of an important viral protein (integrase) that exists in both HIV-1 and FIV, the AIDS pathogen in cats, and discovered new differences that could aid in the understanding and prediction of the development of resistance. With both viruses, the integrase inserts the viral DNA into the DNA of the infected cell, and then replicates itself in a manner that enables it to spread throughout the body. “The virus is a kind of Trojan horse, which uses the host’s genome in order to replicate,” explains Assistant Prof. Alian. “Now we are studying this issue in depth and trying to develop this idea of ‘multiple route reproduction of the HIV virus,’ as a new strategy in the treatment of AIDS.”