June   2009

Events
A Real-Time Diagnosis for a Treatable Cancer


TAU advances colorectal cancer screening with "lab-on-a-chip" technology


The "lab-on-a-chip" used in the diagnosis of colorectal cancer

According to the American Cancer Society, colorectal cancer, America`s third leading type of cancer, is also one of the most preventable. One-third of all colorectal cancer deaths could be avoided by simple screening, they say. But colonoscopies, though highly effective, can also be painful, and current diagnostic techniques are time-consuming and sometimes inaccurate.

Sefi Vernick, a doctoral student of the Department of Physical Electronics at Tel Aviv University, believes he has an answer that may lead to earlier diagnosis — and to saving lives. Utilizing the "lab-on-a-chip" technology first developed by his supervisor Prof. Yossi Shacham, Vernick attached a functioning miniature laboratory the size of a common computer chip to the end of the common endoscope used in colonoscopy examinations, providing a highly-accurate (and far less painful) biopsy done in real time.

"What we`re talking about is taking tiny little samples from polyps as the colonoscopy is being done, and getting the answer right away," says Vernick. "This tool allows us to both visualize and remove polyps and screen for cancer in real time. It`s point-of-care diagnostics — we can do it in a physician`s office, which is much more convenient than a hospital visit."

"Bio"-Marks the Spot


Sefi Vernick

Colorectal cancer is especially difficult to diagnose in its early stages — usually, people are in advanced stages when the cancer is discovered, and the diagnostic process itself requires the removal of entire polyps as well as a laboratory assessment that may take weeks.

Vernick`s lab-on-a-chip solution works by recognizing tell-tale biomarkers that lab technicians cannot see with the naked eye. Cancer biomarkers are molecular changes detectable in the tumor or in the blood, urine, or other body fluids of cancer patients. These biomarkers are produced either by the tumor itself or by the body in response to the presence of cancer. The most commonly-used biomarker tests used today are the off-the-shelf pregnancy test and the test used by diabetics to monitor blood-sugar levels.

With his tool, Vernick can scan up to four different biomarkers for colon cancer, an extraordinarily effective method for finding elusive colon cancer malignancies.

The chip is essentially an electrochemical biosensor programmed to recognize and bind to colorectal cancer biomarkers with high specificity. "Following this bio-recognition event, the electrodes on the chip transduce the signal it receives into an electric current, which can be easily measured and quantified by us," says Vernick.

Testing for Colon Cancer in the Living Room

In addition to the lab-on-a-chip technology, Vernick and his fellow researchers believe they are well on the way to establishing a blood test for colon cancer, which, when used together with colonoscopies, offers a comprehensive package of colon cancer detection.

"When you combine all these methods together, you increase the level of confidence in the results, eliminating false positives and negatives which are dominant today in tests for colorectal cancer," says Vernick. This research, which is funded in part by American-Israeli businessman and philanthropist Lester Crown, is to be commercialized as a complete method of cancer detection, combining blood screening and biopsy.

The ultimate goal would be for patients to have the ability to test themselves at home. "Glucose sensors used by diabetics are the best example today of a hand-held home biosensor test," says Vernick. In the future, he would like to offer patients a similar technology for colorectal cancer detection, in partnership with their physicians. "A person could submit the results of a home test directly online or to their doctor. This is my ultimate goal," he says.

 
The Moshe Dayan Center, The ICC Arrest Warrant Against Omar al-Bashir: Darfur and the Non-Intervention Discourse, Irit Back


On March 4, 2009, the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant against Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in the country’s Darfur province.  It was the first such action ever taken against an incumbent head of state, thus establishing a potential and extremely controversial precedent. Consequently, African Union (AU) leaders unanimously supported Bashir’s rejection of the court ruling, notwithstanding the fact that the AU itself is an interested party in the Darfur conflict. Following a decision to dispatch a peacekeeping force to the region, the AU had established AMIS (African Mission in Sudan), whose first contingents arrived in Darfur in June 2004. For the first time in the post-colonial era, African leaders had agreed to intervene in the internal affairs of one of their fellow African states, in response to massive human rights abuses. This challenge to one of the sacred norms of the African unity discourse since the 1960s thus made Darfur a test-case whose potential implications were far-reaching.

The second and third clauses of the convention of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), established in 1963, deal with the principles of non-intervention in the internal affairs of independent states and respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of each state. In many cases, the commitment of sovereign African states to these principles enabled leaders to disregard clear evidence of grave violations of human rights in various intra-national conflicts. Beginning in the 1980s, however, the fierce commitment of the OAU to the principle of non-intervention revealed some cracks. A more critical discourse emerged, emphasizing that blind adherence to the non-intervention principle promoted a "culture of impunity" toward heads of state who committed atrocities, and demanding the development of a "culture of accountability". Yet, changes in the actual policies of the OAU were negligible.

The consequences of the OAU’s blind adherence to the norm of non-intervention were clearly revealed during the genocide in Rwanda (1994). This event was different from previous cases of intra-national conflicts in post-colonial Africa in its intensity and cruelty: over a period of 90-100 days, more than 800,000 Tutsis (and Hutus suspected as collaborators) were murdered by government-inspired Hutsu death squads. An international debate ensued regarding the responsibility of the international community to protect civilians in cases of intra-national conflicts that involve grave violations of human rights. Worldwide criticism pointed to the fact that although international efforts to damp down violence were undertaken prior to the onset of the genocidal rampage, nothing was done during the slaughter itself. As such, the international community ignored its commitment to Article 1 of the United Nations 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, the "Never Again" promise. In addition, widespread international criticism of the OAU’s lack of response to the Rwandan genocide obliged leaders of African states to reexamine the nature of their commitment to the principle of non-intervention in the internal affairs of sovereign states.

The Constitutive Act of the African Union, which replaced the OAU in 2002, indicates that this criticism had an impact. The AU’s establishment signified the desire of African leaders to establish a more effective model of regional cooperation along the lines of the European Union, one better able to address Africa`s acute social, economic and political problems. Regarding non-intervention, Article Four of the Act declared "the right of the Union to intervene in a Member State pursuant to a decision of the Assembly in respect of grave circumstances, namely: war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity".

The outbreak of the conflict in Darfur presented an early challenge to the newborn (or re-born) organization. Its decision to dispatch a military and police force to the region, combined with the declaration of Prof. Alpha Oumar Konare, AU Commission Chairman, regarding the organization’s commitment to a policy of "non-indifference", indicated that AU norms and principles had evolved.

Following an escalation of the conflict in 2003-04, the AU sponsored a cease-fire accord, signed in N’djamena, Chad in April 2004 between the Sudanese government and the two main rebel groups (the Sudan Liberation Army/Movement (SLA/M) and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM). The first AMIS contingents arrived in Darfur in June 2004 and were composed of 456 personnel from ten African countries. During 2005, the AMIS force was further expanded to a total of 6171 and again at the end of July 2007, following Security Council Resolution 1769, authorizing the deployment of a hybrid UN-AU force UNAMID. With a planned deployment of 26,000 personnel (until March 2009, 60% were deployed) and an annual budget of over two billion dollars, UNAMID is the largest peacekeeping mission in Africa today. Yet, more than five years after the arrival of the first AMIS contingents in Darfur, with an estimated death toll of 300,000-400,000 and about 2,000,000 refugees and internally displaced people, the AU’s intervention clearly had not produced the desired results, and called into question the significance of the new African discourse concerning the legitimacy of intervention in the internal affairs of sovereign states.

To be sure, it may be claimed that in spite of its failures and shortcomings, the AU intervention in Darfur was of historical importance. Notwithstanding its inability to prevent genocide, many international observers claimed that the AMIS presence in Darfur had helped reduce the intensity and cruelty of the conflict. A test case for Africa`s peacekeeping capabilities, AMIS was able to handle various tasks, including those dealing with previously untouched subjects such as gender-based violence.

On the other hand, it is clear that AMIS forces were not able to prevent the continuation of the armed conflict and the associated murders, rapes and deportations which created what is currently the world’s gravest humanitarian crisis. Part of its failure can be ascribed to the fact that the AMIS presence on the ground serves the interests of the Sudanese government, which employed the rhetoric of "African solutions to African problems", in order to delay effective international intervention. The continuing dependence of the AU on the Sudanese authorities` consent to its mandate as a peacekeeping mission in Darfur was already revealed in the initial AU aceeptance of a very restricted mandate, and was made clear repeatedly. As such, it indicates that the AU had not, in fact, abandoned its commitment to the sanctity of long-held principles prioritizing non-intervention in internal affairs and respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of member states.

Since the issuing of the arrest warrant, the Sudanese President has visited Egypt, Eritrea, Libya, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and recently Ethiopia. "The ICC decision has become positive for us,” he claimed. “We have noticed a firm position by regional organizations, namely the Arab League and African Union.” Indeed, it seems that at the moment, from the standpoint of the AU, the official representative of the African unity discourse, the principle of non-intervention in the internal affairs of sovereign states still reigns supreme. Yet, the actual discourse regarding the sovereignty of the State, the legitimacy of violent and oppressive regimes and the right to protect African citizens in cases of grave violations of human rights remains lively, on both the official and unofficial levels, and will surely be a factor in future African conflicts.

 

The decoration of the Chevalier de l`ordre des arts et des lettres at the French embassy in Tel Aviv‏



Israel Finkelstein, Institute of Archaeology, the composer/conductor Gil Shohat and the film director Ari Folman (Waltz with Bashir).

 
A New Exodus if Iran Gets the Bomb


If Iran obtains a nuclear weapon, one in four Israelis would leave Israel, a new TAU poll finds


A new public opinion poll of more than 500 Israeli adults found that 23% of the respondents said they would leave Israel if Iran acquires the ability to build a nuclear bomb. The poll was conducted by the Center for Iranian Studies at Tel Aviv University and recently reported in the Hebrew daily Haaretz.

Of the same group, 85% said that they believed Iran would eventually develop an atomic bomb, and 57% felt that U.S. dialogue with Iran would ultimately fail. More than 40% believed that Israel should conduct a military strike against Iran before the bomb is developed.

“The findings are worrying because they reflect an exaggerated and unnecessary fear,” said Prof. David Menashri, the head of the center. “Iran’s leadership is religiously extremist but calculated, and it understands an unconventional attack on Israel is an act of madness that would destroy Iran. Sadly, the survey shows the Iranian threat works well even without a bomb, and thousands of Israelis [already] live in fear and contemplate leaving the country.”

 
British PM Tony Blair and AIDS Researcher Robert Gallo Among 2009 Dan David Prize Winners


Three $1 million prizes awarded
for achievement 

Israeli President Shimon Peres, TAU President Prof. Zvi Galil, and Dan David

Six 2009 Dan David Prize laureates, including AIDS researcher Robert C. Gallo of the Institute of Human Virology in Baltimore, MD, and former Prime Minister of Great Britain Tony Blair, were recognized for their impact on the world at a ceremony held May 18 at Tel Aviv University. Israeli President Shimon Peres gave the keynote address.

The Dan David Prize annually awards three prizes of $1 million each for achievements with an outstanding scientific, technological, cultural or social impact on our world. The Prize is headquartered at TAU and named after international entrepreneur and philanthropist Dan David.

The Dan David Prize covers three time dimensions — Past, Present and Future — that represent realms of human achievement. Each year the International Board, chaired by TAU President Prof. Zvi Galil, chooses one field within each time dimension. Following a review process by independent Review Commitees comprised of renowned scholars and professionals, the International Board then chooses the laureates for each field.

The Past Time Dimension in the Field of Astrophysics:
The History of the Universe

Paolo de Bernardis (University La Sapienza, Rome, Italy), Andrew Lange (California Institute of Technology, USA) and Paul Richards (University of California at Berkeley, USA) shared the $1 million prize for their discoveries concerning the geometry and composition of the universe, which provided the first undisputed evidence that the universe is flat.

The Present Time Dimension in the Field of Leadership

Tony Blair, the former Prime Minister of Great Britain, was honored for his exceptional leadership and steadfast determination in helping to engineer agreements and forge lasting solutions to areas in conflict.

The Future Time Dimension on the Field of Global Public Health

Robert C. Gallo received the $1 million prize in honor of his research of the HIV and T cell leukemia viruses, and especially for the development of a robust and simple blood test to detect the HIV virus, which has had enormous impact for the epidemiology of the AIDS pandemic.


Prof. Zvi Galil, Deputy Prime Minister Dan Meridor, Chairperson of TAU Executive Council Dr. Liora Meridor and Tony Blair

At the ceremony, Prof. Galil, said, "The work of this year`s laureates illustrate the innovative and creative advancement of human knowledge and of the importance of supporting such outstanding achievements."

The Dan David Prize was founded by Dan David, the president of Format Ltd., Dedem Automatica Srl, and Photo-Me International Plc, which own 90% of the world`s automatic photo booths. He is an active supporter of many philanthropic projects in fields as varied as archaeology, medicine and film. "I created the prize to devote some of my fortune to rewarding and furthering the work of the eminent figures who have increased our knowledge of past, improved our present and helped us forge a better future," he says.

 
The state of geometry and functional analysis


A conference
marking Professor Vitali Milman`s 70th birthday
This conference held in Tel Aviv University and the Dead Sea Resort, Israel, on 24-30 June, 2009.

The event also include an ISF workshop, and three Mini-symposia, organized by R. Vershynin, M. Ludwig and A.Litvak

 
Chella and Moise Safra Inaugurate a Gate to the Future


Major portal to TAU`s future Student City complex will lead to Safra-funded dormitory
It is more than a mere entryway. The Chella and Moise Safra Gate, inaugurated on May 19, 2009, during Tel Aviv University`s annual Board of Governors meeting, is a literal and symbolic gateway to enriched student life on campus.

A dignified aesthetic enhancement to the area, the gate will be an essential portal to TAU`s Student City, a much-needed 2,300-bed housing complex for underprivileged students and young faculty members soon to be built, in part through an exceptionally generous donation from the Safra family.

The Safras` contribution will fund the first of Student City`s eight dormitories, The Chella and Moise Safra Building, for which the cornerstone was laid near a lush eucalyptus tree last May. Thanks to the family`s foresight and generosity, the dormitory will provide needy students — especially those from marginalized communities with homes far from campus — access to a TAU education.

Expanding the future


Chella Safra

Those present for the ribbon-cutting ceremony, at which Moise Safra mounted a mezuzah on the gate, included Tel Aviv University`s resident architect Yoram Eldan.

On behalf of her family, Chella Safra spoke about the importance of the international donor community, graciously thanked her fellow TAU supporters, and stressed that support for academia is support for Israel. "Here you build and shape the future of the nation," Mrs. Safra said.

In his remarks, Tel Aviv University President Prof. Galil said proudly, "Today, as we inaugurate this impressive landmark, we thank you both for your generosity and friendship."

Robert Goldberg, Chairman of TAU`s Board of Governors, called the university "fortunate to have the Safras in the Tel Aviv University family. Moise Safra understands the needs of the university, and we very much appreciate his vision."

A gift that mirrors antiquity

Before the mezuzah was mounted on the gate, Prof. Pinchas Alpert, head of the Porter School for Environmental Studies, blessed the Safra family, and compared their gesture to one of faith. He quoted the Talmud on Nikanor, who vowed to prevent the new Temple gates from being thrown into the sea when they were en route from Egypt to Jerusalem. Recounting a miracle during the storm at sea they survived, he stressed that Nikanor was prepared to give everything — even his life — to protect the gates of the Temple, later named for him.

"I believe Chella and Moise Safra knew about Nikanor`s Gates, and that may be one of the reasons they`ve made this contribution," Prof. Alpert said. "We pray that many thousands of students and teachers from all over the world will come through it to learn at Tel Aviv University."

Philanthropic leadership writ large

Moise Safra is a well-known banker, a member of a highly respected family of bankers with global business and industrial interests that have included the Israeli mobile communications giant, Cellcom.

Chella Safra is deeply engaged in charitable activities, and was an active member of the board of The Jewish Agency for Israel for five years. She is currently president of the women`s division of Keren Hayessod in Sao Paulo.

The Safra family is renowned for its visionary philanthropic activities in Brazil, Israel and around the world, donating to education, culture, and communal institutions such as hospitals and orphanages through numerous Jewish and secular organizations. They actively support organizations committed to social education and the promotion of Jewish causes, especially in Sephardic communities around the world.

 
TAU Hosts Gala Concert to Celebrate New International Music Program


Outstanding international students to diversify Buchmann-Mehta School of Music Orchestra


TAU President Prof. Zvi Galil, Chairperson of TAU Executive Council Dr. Liora Meridor, Deputy Prime Minister Dan Meridor and Josef Buchmann

Tel Aviv University opened its annual International Board of Governors meeting with an evening of music on Saturday, May 16, at TAU’s Miriam and Adolfo Smolarz Auditorium. The evening celebrated the inauguration of the Buchmann International Program for Outstanding Foreign Music Students.

The Buchmann-Mehta School of Music Orchestra performed an all-Beethoven program led by conductor Ze’ev Dorman, playing two of the composer’s most memorable works, the “Triple” Concerto in C Major for Piano, Violin and Cello and Symphony No. 3 in E-flat major, more popularly known as the “Eroica Symphony.”

The evening was hosted by philanthropist Josef Buchmann, a long-standing benefactor of Israeli art, culture and higher education. His work in the establishment of the Buchmann-Mehta School of Music at TAU, in partnership with his close friend world-renowned conductor Zubin Mehta, links his several ideals.

The Collective Joy of Music Making

The concert served to celebrate the “collective joy of music making and present the future of Israeli music,” said Buchmann. He noted that the international program would be a “cornerstone in making Tel Aviv University a true international magnet for all fields.” As a taste of the collaboration to come, 15 international students performed alongside their Israeli peers. The students hailed from 11 different countries, representing three continents.

American Friend Robert Goldberg, Chairman of TAU`s Board of Governors, opened the concert by thanking Buchmann and Dr. Mario Adler for their contribution to the new program, which Goldberg called “another link in the chain of international presence” for the university. Goldberg characterized the university system in Israel as “troubled,” citing “brain drain” and calling for Israel’s universities to band together to show that higher education is vital to Israel.

“Tel Aviv University has only succeeded in maintaining its growth due to our friends around the world,” he said.

National Orchestra, International Flair

The new program founded by Buchmann and Adler provides outstanding international students with the chance to live and study in Tel Aviv, including full-tuition scholarships and generous living stipends.

The addition of students from all over the world has given Tel Aviv University’s School of Music a vibrant, international atmosphere and serves to promote the reputation of Israel and the university abroad. International students, alongside their Israeli peers, get the benefit of working with the Israel Philharmonic and the school’s faculty, comprised of Israel’s foremost musicians and teachers.

Musical Ambassadors Around the World

University president Prof. Zvi Galil praised the orchestra for its contribution to Israeli music. “Music is an international language, and indeed the orchestra has well represented Tel Aviv University abroad,” he said. “They are ambassadors for Tel Aviv University, the city of Tel Aviv, and the state of Israel.”

Conductor Zubin Mehta welcomed the Board of Governors of “our Tel Aviv University” on video. He noted that the “inspiration and generosity” of the university’s benefactors has made the international music program possible for the first time. The international participants, currently numbering at 60 students, would “go out of Israel spreading the word that we do not stand for terror but for good will,” he said.

 
The Gerald and Reesa Niznick Faculty Clinic Inaugurated at TAU`s School of Dentistry


"Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime," he said, explaining the Niznicks` vision for the dental clinic — a gift that will give TAU`s dental faculty the opportunity to generate income and bring recognition to the school for providing services to the greater Tel Aviv community.

With a generous donation from Dr. Niznick and his wife, Reesa, covering construction, facilities, and the latest modern equipment, Tel Aviv University`s Maurice and Gabriela Goldschleger School of Dental Medicine now has its own dental clinic, ready to be staffed by faculty, student dentists and dental hygienists. It includes treatment rooms, reception services, waiting room, and a state-of the-art laboratory.

The Gerald and Reesa Niznick Faculty Clinic already has young dentists-in-training, university students, and Tel Aviv residents smiling. For a small "visitors fee" to support clinic operations, patients will be able to access affordable dental services — check-ups, cleanings, fillings, and even more complicated procedures such as dental implants, a field in which Dr. Niznick holds more than 30 patents.

Multiple Benefits


Prof. Yossi Mekori, Reesa Niznick and Dr. Gerald Niznick

At a time when the cost of training dentists in Israel is escalating rapidly, the new clinic promises to keep more young dental students in Israel. One of only two university dental clinics in the country, it will also alleviate the cost of dentistry for the local Tel Aviv community.

Speaking in the company of friends, colleagues, and Board members at the inauguration, Dr. Niznick told of the 20-year romance he and his wife have had with the School of Dental Medicine at Tel Aviv University, culminating in the clinic gift.

"There is no reason it can`t be a model center of excellence," he said. "This is a first-class, state-of-the-art facility. You won`t find anything nicer in American cities like Los Angeles or New York." Accessible from the main floor of the Dental School building near the entrance to the university, the clinic "could also become a hub for dental tourists from around the world."

A Professional Turning Point

At the ceremony, Tel Aviv University`s President Prof. Zvi Galil alluded to the difficult financial situation Israel`s two dental schools currently face as the Israeli government cuts funding in academia. "This clinic will play an important role in the rebirth of the Faculty of Dentistry," he said.

Prof. Yossi Mekori, dean of the Sackler Faculty of Medicine, concurred. "This is a happy occasion. A turning point. Opening a top-notch dental clinic to serve the community will help us resuscitate the Dental School, and we are grateful for the Niznicks` contribution."

American Friend Ralph Rothstein, finance chair of the Alpha Omega International Dental Fraternity and a long-time fundraiser for TAU`s Dental School, also spoke at the inauguration. He placed Reesa and Gerald Niznick among the finest of philanthropic role models, thanking them for their exceptional generosity.

An Inspiring Supporter


Prof. Haim Tal, Reesa Niznick and Dr. Gerald Niznick

Dubbed the "godfather of American Implant Dentistry" by Barron`s business weekly, Dr. Niznick is a pioneer, educator and entrepreneur in the field. His contributions to the profession have been recognized by academic institutions and dental implant organizations around the world.

Prof. Haim Tal, head of the School of Dental Medicine, recalled the first donation made by Dr. Niznick. "His first investment in the school was in implantology. It let us enter a new era." Niznick continues to sponsor a chair in implant dentistry at TAU.

Dr. Niznick has been a long-time supporter of dentistry at Tel Aviv University, which conferred an honorary doctorate degree on him in 2003 in recognition of his personal and professional accomplishments including his contributions to the field of dentistry.

The United States Department of Veterans Affairs has recognized him as well, issuing a Commendation for conceiving and funding the world`s largest dental implant study comprising 32 VA centers, 900 patients, and more than 2,800 of Dr. Niznick`s implants. Among his many other awards is the prestigious Isaah Lew Research award from the American Academy of Implant Dentistry and an honorary doctorate degree in 2002 from his alma mater, the University of Manitoba in Canada.

 
War and Peace Index – May 2009
Prof. Ephraim Yaar and Prof. Tamar Hermann


On the eve of President Obama’s address in Cairo, only about one-third (31%) of the Israeli Jewish public saw his position on solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as neutral.  A majority of 55% think he leans more to the Palestinian side, and only 5%
say he favors the Israeli side. Moreover, 60% do not trust the president to take into
account and uphold Israel’s interests in his efforts to improve America’s relations
with the Arab world.
One can perhaps understand, then, the view of the majority—65%—that Prime
Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s recent visit to Washington was not successful (19%
think that it was), even though 56% think the positions he presented there were
appropriate, neither too tough nor too compliant (13% think he presented overly tough
positions, 9% that they were too compliant, and the rest do not know).
Yet, despite views Netanyahu has recently voiced on a solution to the conflict, and
particularly his refusal to declare his support for a Palestinian state, an overwhelming
majority of the Jewish public still thinks a settlement with the Palestinians is
impossible outside of the two-states-for-two-peoples formula (67%), with only 18%
saying it would be possible. A segmentation of the answers by party vote in the latest
elections shows that, with the exception of the National Union, voters for all the
parties see it as impossible to reach a peace agreement with the Palestinians outside of
the two-states-for-two-peoples solution. At the same time, the majority, 52%, opposes
a two-state solution if it requires substantial concessions by Israel, compared to 41%
who are prepared for an agreement entailing such concessions.
As for the settlements, the Jewish public appears to be divided on whether they
contribute to or weaken the Israeli national interest, with a small majority (48%)
saying they weaken it and 43% that they contribute to it. At the same time, the
  "   

  
     

THE EVENS PROGRAM IN MEDIATION THE TAMI STEINMETZ CENTER
AND CONFLICT RESOLUTION FOR PEACE RESEARCH
2
majority—53%—think Israel should not agree to an inclusive settlement evacuation
even if reaching an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement were to hinge on this alone,
while 41% would support such an evacuation. In a cross-section by political party,
only Meretz, Labor, and Kadima voters favor an evacuation of all the settlements
under these circumstances; voters for all other parties oppose it.
The picture on a settlement evacuation, however, changes when it comes to isolated
settlements in the heart of the Palestinian population and to the illegal outposts, as
distinct from the large settlement blocs. In this case, 53% of the Jewish public think
Israel should agree to an evacuation and only 29% say otherwise. Not surprisingly,
there is a close connection between views on the benefit or cost of settlements and
willingness to dismantle them for a peace agreement with the Palestinians. Among
those who think the settlements contribute to the national interest, 74% oppose
evacuating them and 23% favor it; among those who think they harm the national
interest, 57% support an evacuation and 37% oppose it.

 
A vision of a scientific superpower / By Ehud Gazit


It is still hard to write about Prof. Ephraim Katzir in the past tense.  Very few people kept their wits and deep desire for science at such an advanced age and in such a difficult physical condition. I vividly recall our talks in his last few months, in which he evinced amazing expertise in cutting-edge scientific developments in nanotechnology and brain science, and astounded me with his clear and precise insights.

It is said of the sages that "as they age, their wisdom grows," and Katzir was truly a scholar who grew in wisdom.

But that is just one aspect of his complex personality: A scientific genius who labored for the defense of the State of Israel far from the ivory tower; a man who lost his beloved brother Aharon in a terror attack, yet remained committed to peace; a man who outgrew his socialist adolescence and founded Israel`s defense and biotechnology industries; an outstanding researcher who was at home in the world`s most prestigious scientific institutions, as well as in the ORT Braude Academic College of Engineering in Carmiel; and finally, a true academic who answered the prime minster`s call and became a president and statesman.
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One of Katzir`s most special and impressive traits was his ability to blend vision and action. He viewed the Zionist enterprise and the establishment of the State of Israel as the central mission of scientists and researchers. Even though scientific research was his main pursuit and a cornerstone of his identity, he understood the importance of integrating science into the country`s institutions and government. As a military man he served as commander of the scientific corps. He invented the post of chief scientist in government ministries, served as the Defense Ministry`s chief scientist and was involved in establishing the National Council for Research and Development.

Ephraim and Aharon Katzir also understood the importance of maintaining an intimate and ongoing relationship not only with the state`s institutions and government ministries, but also with the political echelon. They were in direct and close contact with politicians, and did not hesitate to engage in party activism. Aharon Katzir was instrumental in drawing up the platform for Rafi during the 1965 Knesset elections, in which the party called for the "scientification" of the State of Israel, due to its lack of natural resources but wealth of human capital. Despite the contributions of such great minds, Rafi won only 10 Knesset seats and found itself in the opposition - and well before its time scientification was reduced to a pragmatic ideology best known in history books.

What aspects of Katzir`s legacy can we implement today? The most important thing is to understand that the scientist`s role is serving the public. As important and fascinating as it may be, science is only part of an academic`s job. Our role as scientists is to be at the forefront of Israeli achievement in every realm: education, research, industry, policy and security.

We must pass the scientific knowledge we are developing on to society and industry. A society where academics are active partners in running the country is a better society, and can bring prosperity for the State of Israel.

Prof. Ehud Gazit is the vice president of research and development at Tel Aviv University and chairman of its Nano-Biology department.

 
Focus on
banner-focus-e.jpg

the 14th Israel Materials Engineering Conference (IMEC-14)



This is the central conference of the materials community in Israel, combining fundamental and applied research. It brings together academia, research institutes, industry, investors, non-government organizations and government representatives to exchange information, consolidate joint research programs and discuss commercial endeavors and future opportunities.
The conference will attempt to reflect the recent breakthroughs in the field. It will cover a broad range of topics, including nanomaterials, biomaterials, materials for energy systems and cleantech, advanced characterization techniques, etc. New topical sessions, such as materials for aerospace applications and archaeomaterials, are included in the program.
The broad coverage by IMEC-14 should provide scientific inspiration and stimulation to an interdisciplinary audience, including materials, mechanical, electrical, chemical, aeronautical, biomedical, environment and nuclear engineers, chemists and physicists, professionals in life sciences and medicine, archaeologists, etc.
Each day, four plenary presentations will be given by internationally renowned scientists discussing novel classes of materials and advanced characterization techniques, with emphasis on their role in global development. We are both honored and proud of the distinguished guest speakers from abroad that have confirmed their participation at IMEC-14! The conference will also include specialized topical sessions, poster sessions, commercial exhibition and conference banquet. The best student presentations will receive awards from the Israeli Materials and Processes Society. Selected manuscripts will be published in international refereed journals.
The commercial exhibition will demonstrate the latest equipment, materials and services available in Israel. The Local Organizing Committee paid much attention to enable a large exhibition with modern facilities and sufficient interaction time. We also decided to subsidize the registration fees for students, making it easier for them to attend. Exhibitors and Sponsors are invited to contact me or the conference secretariat in order to learn more about possible contributions to the conference.
We are delighted that Tel-Aviv University has the privilege of hosting an IMEC conference, for the first time in the history of this series. We will do our utmost to make this conference interesting, fruitful and enjoyable for all attendees.
to be held at Tel-Aviv University on December 13-14, 2009

 
Daniel Schmit Named Director of Latin American Affairs for AFTAU`s Southeast Region

Brings expertise in North and South America to the newly created position
Reaching out to the Latin American community in Florida and South America, American Friends of Tel Aviv University (AFTAU) has named Daniel Schmit to the new post of Director of Latin American Affairs for the organization`s Southeast Region.

Schmit`s career intertwines fundraising and education throughout, in positions in North America, South America and Israel. Most recently, he represented Keren Ha`yesod in Mexico, managing development campaigns for several communities there. Previously, he was the South American Representative for the Jaffa Institute in Israel, and was a lecturer in the Education Department of the Jewish Agency for Israel.

In Brazil, he worked with the Beyt Yaacov community, managing the youth department, producing seminars, fundraising, and advising the Sao Paulo Council of Youth Organizations. Prior to that, he served in several fundraising and management positions in Israel, including the Perach Project in Jerusalem, Melitz, the Zionist Organization, and Israel`s Ministry of Education.

An Ideal Ambassador

Schmit, known as Dany, is an Argentinean native who emigrated to Israel when he was 16 years old. He holds both a General B.A. and a B.A. in Sociology and Anthropology from Hebrew University, and has begun master`s degree studies in Contemporary Judaism. Fluent in Hebrew, Spanish, Portuguese, and English, he is extremely well suited to lead AFTAU`s outreach to the Latin American community.

American Friends of Tel Aviv University President Roni Krinsky calls Schmit`s new post an important step in expanding the university`s global awareness. "We know we have an excellent ambassador in Dany," Krinsky said, "and look forward to welcoming new friends from both American continents."

 
Santiago and Robertina Calatrava Host TAU Honorary Degree Recipients


Legendary architect celebrates distinguished American Friends at private dinner
40 special guests toasted the recipients of Tel Aviv University`s highest honorary degrees at the stunning Park Avenue townhouse of Santiago and Robertina Calatrava on April 23, 2009.

The internationally renowned architect and his wife, committed supporters of the university, arranged the evening to recognize the enormous value TAU adds to Israel`s oldest modern city in this, its centennial year.

Guests at the warm and elegant dinner party included university president Prof. Zvi Galil as well as 11 recipients of honorary doctorates and 3 honorary fellows. In his invitation to the recipients, Calatrava, who received an honorary doctorate in 2008, referred to the "meaningful bond" they share.

Guests with TAU honorary degrees were distinguished historian Bernard Lewis; medical visionaries Arturo Constantiner, Isadore Rosenfeld, and Raymond Sackler; financial titans Alan Aufzein, Bertram Cohn, and Michael Steinhart; corporate magnates Allan Greene and Shalom Yoran; pioneering scientist Mary Jane Kreek; communal leaders Gaby Brill and Dina Ettinger; and noted artist Varda Yoran.

President Galil, the evening`s only speaker, recounted some of the university`s significant recent achievements, all the more remarkable in light of the challenges higher education in Israel is facing. He spoke of TAU`s success in combating Israeli "brain drain" with the addition to the faculty this year of 23 of the world`s most highly recruited young research stars.

He also referred to the increasing scope and comprehensiveness of the university`s curriculum, further illustrated by the 6 Israel Prizes awarded to TAU faculty in the past year, far more than any other university in the country.

The dinner was a unique event, a first-ever gathering in special recognition of AFTAU`s honorary degree recipients. It offered an unprecedented opportunity for them — and all the Calatravas` guests — to get to know each other in an intimate and extremely gracious setting.

 
Three Degrees of Separation for Getting That Job


TAU advises referral from "friend of a friend" for interview success
Experts estimate that personal contacts are instrumental in landing 70% of all jobs in the U.S., but they don`t talk about what kinds of contacts they are or should be. Social networking sites like LinkedIn or Facebook may be valuable for the first contact with recruiters, but "virtual relationships" with company employees will probably not be enough to land the job, says workplace relationship expert Dr. Hilla Dotan of Tel Aviv University`s Faculty of Management.

Her tip: Look into real-life relationships before — and after — you tap into the virtual life. "People need to exploit their network of friends and acquaintances from the real world prior to the job interview," advises Dotan.

After surveying thousands of employees from American companies, including those on the Fortune 500 list, Dotan created the "Relational Tendency Tool," which identifies the types and value of workplace relationships. It`s also an effective tool for digging out "non-public" job openings, gathering information about the potential interviewer, and preparing for the interview itself, says Dotan.

"Many people think it is the best friend that can help get the interview, but research evidence and results from the tool show that it is the friend of the best friend that is most effective. The tool can also predict who in the friendship network is the ideal person to provide the recommendation that would put you on the top of the pile," she says.

A Little Knowledge Can Be a Profitable Thing


Dr. Hilla Dotan

"Once you`ve received an invitation for an interview, tap into your friendship network again to prepare for the interview," she says. While LinkedIn is a great way to connect to headhunters, it has much less value for making the kinds of connections that will help you get the job once the interview date is set. "If you want to win over the interviewer, see if you have any friends with friends who work there. If so, arrange a meeting between you, your friend, and your friend`s friend a few days before the interview to discuss the prospective job," Dr. Dotan says.

Ask your new alliances about the person who will be interviewing you. A shared hobby, family information, or another commonality is all you need to help build the relationship and inspire that initial connection between you and the interviewer.

At any stage of the job application process, be careful about getting recommendations from your close friends. The resulting job — or rejection — can be dangerous for both your friendship and professional career. "I suggest you get recommendations from people who are two to three degrees of separation away from your close friend. If you are too close to someone in the company, it probably won`t be an objective recommendation. Interviewers know that."

Finally, be very sensitive to the interviewer`s cues. If they are initiating a social discussion, you want to be receptive to that and use the opportunity to share some of the knowledge you obtained. If they are being professional, and talking just about the business or the job, you have to follow their lead, Dr. Dotan recommends.

Leaving Impressions on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn

Dr. Dotan also cautions about revealing too much on a public forum. The impression you make can be influenced greatly by your "online reputation" and you`ll be carrying your online history into the interview. The chances are quite high that you`ll be "Googled" before your meeting.

While social networking sites can help put your name out there, it can harm how you look from the outside, she says. "My advice would be to be very selective about the information you post, and who to accept and not accept into your network. People judge you as a person and a professional. You want to portray a positive face on both fronts," she says.

At Tel Aviv University Dr. Dotan examines, researches, and teaches how workplace networks form, why they begin, and eventually how these networks evolve to impact business success. She is one of 23 new faculty at Tel Aviv University — highly recruited by universities throughout the country — as part of an across-the-board effort to reverse "brain drain" in Israel.

 
Three Degrees of Separation for Getting That Job


TAU advises referral from "friend of a friend" for interview success
Experts estimate that personal contacts are instrumental in landing 70% of all jobs in the U.S., but they don`t talk about what kinds of contacts they are or should be. Social networking sites like LinkedIn or Facebook may be valuable for the first contact with recruiters, but "virtual relationships" with company employees will probably not be enough to land the job, says workplace relationship expert Dr. Hilla Dotan of Tel Aviv University`s Faculty of Management.

Her tip: Look into real-life relationships before — and after — you tap into the virtual life. "People need to exploit their network of friends and acquaintances from the real world prior to the job interview," advises Dotan.

After surveying thousands of employees from American companies, including those on the Fortune 500 list, Dotan created the "Relational Tendency Tool," which identifies the types and value of workplace relationships. It`s also an effective tool for digging out "non-public" job openings, gathering information about the potential interviewer, and preparing for the interview itself, says Dotan.

"Many people think it is the best friend that can help get the interview, but research evidence and results from the tool show that it is the friend of the best friend that is most effective. The tool can also predict who in the friendship network is the ideal person to provide the recommendation that would put you on the top of the pile," she says.

A Little Knowledge Can Be a Profitable Thing


Dr. Hilla Dotan

"Once you`ve received an invitation for an interview, tap into your friendship network again to prepare for the interview," she says. While LinkedIn is a great way to connect to headhunters, it has much less value for making the kinds of connections that will help you get the job once the interview date is set. "If you want to win over the interviewer, see if you have any friends with friends who work there. If so, arrange a meeting between you, your friend, and your friend`s friend a few days before the interview to discuss the prospective job," Dr. Dotan says.

Ask your new alliances about the person who will be interviewing you. A shared hobby, family information, or another commonality is all you need to help build the relationship and inspire that initial connection between you and the interviewer.

At any stage of the job application process, be careful about getting recommendations from your close friends. The resulting job — or rejection — can be dangerous for both your friendship and professional career. "I suggest you get recommendations from people who are two to three degrees of separation away from your close friend. If you are too close to someone in the company, it probably won`t be an objective recommendation. Interviewers know that."

Finally, be very sensitive to the interviewer`s cues. If they are initiating a social discussion, you want to be receptive to that and use the opportunity to share some of the knowledge you obtained. If they are being professional, and talking just about the business or the job, you have to follow their lead, Dr. Dotan recommends.

Leaving Impressions on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn

Dr. Dotan also cautions about revealing too much on a public forum. The impression you make can be influenced greatly by your "online reputation" and you`ll be carrying your online history into the interview. The chances are quite high that you`ll be "Googled" before your meeting.

While social networking sites can help put your name out there, it can harm how you look from the outside, she says. "My advice would be to be very selective about the information you post, and who to accept and not accept into your network. People judge you as a person and a professional. You want to portray a positive face on both fronts," she says.

At Tel Aviv University Dr. Dotan examines, researches, and teaches how workplace networks form, why they begin, and eventually how these networks evolve to impact business success. She is one of 23 new faculty at Tel Aviv University — highly recruited by universities throughout the country — as part of an across-the-board effort to reverse "brain drain" in Israel.

 
If You Do Good, You Look Good


Dr. Anat Bracha of the Eitan Berglas School of Economics finds image is a prime motivator for charitable giving

In today`s economy, it`s increasingly difficult to elicit donations for charitable causes — but new research from Dr. Anat Bracha of the Eitan Berglas School of Economics at Tel Aviv University can provide fundraising organizations with a potent tool.

A powerful spur to giving, Dr. Bracha`s research demonstrates, is "image motivation," the positive recognition a giver gets from other members of the community. Her study, published in American Economic Review, can help organizations understand how to elicit maximum donor response in today`s tough times.

"Charitable giving is a much greater sacrifice now than it was at this time last year. Budgets are tighter for everyone, so giving is likely to have greater image value," she says. That`s why it can be important for organizations to emphasize the image benefits of charitable giving. But she cautions that if any other main motivators for giving collide with image motivation, they may have a "crowding-out" effect.

Reputation is Everything


Dr. Anat Bracha

Dr. Bracha`s research focused on the effects of participating in charitable events in two settings — one public, one private. Her study also examined two kinds of motivators — image and financial — and was able to show a negative interaction between monetary incentives and image, the thesis she and her colleagues were testing.

In one experiment in the gym at MIT, the study created a "Biking for Charity" scenario in which participants were invited to bike for ten minutes to earn money for a charitable cause based on the effort they exerted. Some were also paid for their participation.

"We had one group do it in public, and one in private," says Dr. Bracha. "The `public sphere` was in the main room of the gym, and the `private sphere` was on the third floor, in its own room. What we demonstrated was that giving was affected by how visible the participation was. The more public, the greater the image boost, and the greater the contribution."

When monetary incentives were introduced, however, they were more effective in private than in public. "Monetary and image motivations clashed," Dr. Bracha explains.

In the public sphere, people exerted the same level of effort on their stationary bikes with or without compensation, aware that positive social acclaim might be undermined if viewers were aware of their personal monetary gain. In the private room, where participants did not have to contend with social judgment, they biked more miles on average when they were paid to do so.

The Public Value of Personal Sacrifice

Of course, a more positive image in the eyes of the community requires greater visibility in that community. Dr. Bracha points to the Lance Armstrong Foundation Live Strong campaign as an example, in which donors are visibly recognizable by unique wristbands. Web sites that acknowledge donors by name serve to have the same effect. "This is a very public thing — everyone sees you when you participate," she says.

Dr. Bracha`s research was done in conjunction with Dr. Stephan Meier of Columbia Business School and Dr. Dan Ariely of Duke University.

 
MIDEAST MONITOR: Bruce Maddy-Weitzman
Reshuffling the Cards


AN EXTRAORDINARY U.S. presidential visit to Cairo and crucially important elections, in Lebanon and Iran – each of these events could have a powerful impact on the overall contours of Middle East politics.
The Hollywood celebrity-like “buzz”
around Obama was palpable throughout the
Arab world, as families gathered around television
sets in homes and cafés. One could
almost feel the hunger of the average Arab
citizen to partake in the global “Obamania”
phenomenon. Obama’s message – a respectful
acknowledgment of the greatness of
Islamic and Arab culture, and an expressed
desire to work together with Arab states and
societies to advance common goals – made it
all the more riveting, and his speech was
received warmly, both among his 3,000 listeners
in the auditorium of Cairo University
and throughout much of the region.
To be sure, some Arab commentators
were quick to note that Obama’s honeyed
words were no substitute for proper policies,
and expressed deep skepticism that the
United States would alter its underlying support
for Israel in favor of the Palestinians or
change its “imperial ways” elsewhere in the
region. But others, such as the editor-inchief
of the authoritative Al-Hayat, Ghassan
Charbel, noted that Obama’s speech was not
just an exercise in public relations, but the
expression that Washington understands the
need for new approaches to the myriad challenges
in an evermore intertwined world.
Obama’s “outstretched hand,” he said,
required similar deep thinking from Arab
and Muslim states and a willingness to
establish a genuine partnership.
Meanwhile, the elections in Lebanon and
Iran serve as barometers to measure the
degree to which Iran’s growing power projection
into the Arab heartland was being institutionalized.
Lebanon was, in fact, a test case:
Most polls had indicated that the Hizballah
spearheaded, pro-Iranian and pro-Syrian
opposition “March 8” Group would achieve
gains, and thus further consolidate its increasingly
hegemonic position at the expense of
the governing pro-Western “March 14”
Group. With the stakes high, both internally
and regionally, Lebanese factions campaigned
vigorously, fueled by massive funding from
their external patrons – Iran and Saudi Arabia
respectively. Vote-buying was reportedly even
more widespread than usual.
To the surprise of most, the pro-Western
bloc won the election and even slightly
increased its strength in parliament. Of course,
Lebanon remains deeply divided, Hizballah
has no intention of disarming, and the existing
electoral law unfairly discriminates against the
country’s Shi’ite community. It may take
months to arrive at what will be, at best, a fragile
formula for governing the country.
But for the moment, the Egyptians,
Saudis and Jordanians – the heart of the
anti-Iranian pro-American Sunni bloc in the
region – could breathe easier. For Israelis,
this outcome is by no means a guarantee that
the nearly three years of quiet on the
Lebanese border will continue.
Meanwhile, prior to Mahmoud
Ahmadinejad’s “landslide” victory in the
Iranian presidential campaign, a series of raucous
televised debates between the candidates
provided great political theater for the
Iranian public. Overall, the elections, even
within the rigid constraints imposed by the
Islamic Republic framework, were deemed
by the public to be significant, in sharp contrast
to elections in most of the Arab world.
What about substance? Had Ahmadinejad
gone too far in his anti-Western, Holocaustdenying
rhetoric and thus damaged Iran, as his
opponents charged? Would it make a difference
if he won or lost in the unfolding crisis
over Iran’s nuclear program and ease the fears
of Sunni Arab states and Israel alike? Not necessarily.
According to the International Crisis
Group (Policy Briefing No. 28; http://www.crisisgroup.
org), there was no straightforward
reformist versus conservative split regarding
the engagement with the United States. Indeed,
Ahmadinejad may be among the most eager to
reestablish a channel of discussion.
Regardless of who is elected, said the
report, the U.S. handling of the nuclear file
will be Tehran’s litmus test: Its red line is the
right to enrich uranium on its soil, and anything
less will be viewed as unacceptable.
Iranian officials contemplate a dialogue with
the U.S. covering bilateral and regional
issues, and even cooperation on specific
regional files (e.g. Afghanistan and perhaps
even Iraq), but see it as underpinned by deepseated
political and ideological differences,
particularly on Israel, and within the context
of an overall strategic competition.
Sobering to be sure, as the authors of the
report acknowledge, and difficult to even initiate,
but better than any other alternative.
The bottom line is that one rarely, if ever,
plays with a completely new deck of cards in
Middle East politics. Still, it is also apparent,
that within the reshuffling of the existing
cards, a new wild card has been added to the
mix – Barack Obama. •
The author is a Senior Research Fellow at
the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle
Eastern and African Studies, Tel Aviv
University.

 
Tel Aviv Notes
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The Moshe Dayan Center, Kuwait Parliamentary Elections: Women Making History, Eran Segal


On May 16, 2009, Kuwaitis went to the polls for the third time in the last three years.  A continuing political crisis between the government and parliament had resulted in repeated dissolutions of the parliament by the Amir, Shaikh Sabah al-Ahmad. Despite this recent record, Kuwait has had the most influential parliament among Arabian Peninsula states during the last half-century, and it rates high in comparison to other parliaments in the Middle East as a whole.

Harsh criticism of the government by Islamists is generally cited as the cause of the recent repeated dissolutions of the Kuwaiti parliament . But there was also another, less apparent reason. In 2006, a power struggle among factions of the Sabah ruling family resulted in the unprecedented removal of the Amir, Sa`ad Abdullah al-Sabah, on health grounds. More importantly his family branch, known from the beginning of the 20th century as the "Salemiyya", was totally excluded from the line of succession. This dramatic move, resembling the usurpation of the throne by Mubarak al-Sabah in 1896, was reportedly accepted peacefully but in fact impelled "Salemiyya" supporters, many of them Islamists but also some liberals, to do their utmost to undermine parliamentary and governmental stability.

The atmosphere surrounding last month’s elections was extremely tense: for the first time, the military supervised the 94 polling stations (47 for men and 47 for women). A month before the elections, three candidates were arrested and detained for publicly criticizing the ruling family. One of them decided to withdraw his candidacy before the election but the others were elected in spite of, or probably because of their arrest.

The country’s financial crisis was generally deemed to be the main issue during the campaign. The country`s current economic forecast is sobering. The Kuwaiti stock exchange lost about half of its value over the past year. The frequent dissolutions of the parliament had aggravated the economic difficulties, causing a proposed stimulus package of five billion dollars to be placed on hold. The Cabinet recently had been forced to cancel a 14 billion dollar project after a parliamentary investigation found that the state-owned company in charge of the project had not followed correct procedures in awarding contracts.

Whatever the effect of the economy on the elections, the big surprise, internationally and domestically alike, was the first-ever election of four women to the fifty-member parliament. Women had obtained the right to vote and be elected only in 2005. After two failed attempts in the 2006 and 2008 elections, women activists were hoping this time to attain at least one seat. Some optimistically talked about two seats, but almost no one imagined winning four. Many Kuwaiti commentators believed that it was just too soon for women. Abd al-Rahman Alyan, the editor-in-chief of the English-language daily Kuwaiti Times declared just a day before the vote that "it will take them [the women] another two or three elections to get into parliament." No less surprising was the fact that two of the four m won first and second places, respectively, in their constituencies (each of the five constituencies elects ten representatives).

The four victorious women, Ma`asuma al-Mubarak, Asil al-Awadhi, Rola Dashti and Salwa al-Jassar all hold doctoral degrees from US universities. Al-Mubarak was the first woman nominated to be minister in 2005 but had to resign last year; al-Awadhi came in 11th in her constituency in 2008, missing being the first woman elected to parliament by only a few votes; Dashti, who had been a candidate in both in 2006 and 2008, is considered one of the leading human rights activists in Kuwait; al-Jassar is an education professor and was relatively unknown in the public sphere.

There are several explanations for this surprise result. In light of the economic crisis and continuing political instability, these elections could be called the "elections of despair." Only 58% of the 384,790 registered voters actually voted (around 225,000), down from 65% in 2008 and more than 75% in 2006. 211 candidates (16 women) ran for the 50 seats, down from 249 candidates (27 women) in 2006 and 275 candidates (27 women) in 2008. Given the prevailing gloomy atmosphere, women candidates rightly focused on the need for change, while refraining from elaborating upon their ideas in order not to alienate potential voters. Dashti used the Obama-like slogan "I Can" to encourage voters to consider voting for a woman, a concept which may have seemed impossible just a few years earlier. In contrast, Islamists called upon voters to refrain entirely from voting for women, a strategy which turned out to be counterproductive. The low turnout apparently assisted the women candidates, and probably benefited other minority groups as well, at the expense of more established organized factions. Islamist groups in particular lost much ground. The hardline "Hadas" faction (al-Haraka al-Dusturiyya al-Islamiyya; “Islamic Constitutional Movement”) declined from three seats to just one and the traditional Salafis lost two of their four seats. More interestingly, even the winners attained only the bottom places in their constituencies, in contrast to previous elections. The Shi`i community scored the biggest win, attaining nine seats, up from five from last year, including two of the victorious women (Mubarak and Dashti). Tribes remained totally in control of two of the five constituencies (the 4th and 5th), so they again attained about half of the seats in parliament. Among them, it can be seen that hardliner Islamists lost some ground, but on the whole most of those elected can be classified as conservative/traditionalist.

A few days after the elections, the Amir decided to reappoint Prime Minister Shaikh Nasir al-Muhammad, his nephew. Attacks on the PM had been the immediate cause for the previous dissolutions of parliament. So the answer to the main question in Kuwait – will the political instability and parliament dissolutions continue – is probably yes. Will this harm the ruling family and undermine the regime? Probably not. It should be remembered that the Kuwaiti parliament system has existed for almost 50 years, but Kuwait`s dominant families have been ensconsed for over 250 years. For the newly elected women representatives, this means that they probably soon will have to battle again for their seats, leaving them limited opportunities to first prove their abilities in the new parliament.

 
Insider
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Comparative Tax Law and Culture


International Conference
: Cegla Center for Interdisciplinary Research of the Law June 9-11, 2009
Monash University Prato Centre
Prato, Italy
Organizers: Tsilly Dagan, Rick Krever,
Assaf Likhovski, Yoram Margalioth

 
Research at TAU
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Heart Attacks: The Tipping Point


Dr. Sharon Zlochiver of the Department of Biomedical Engineering  Research Produces New Non-Invasive Procedure to Predict and Treat Attacks Twenty percent of American deaths each year are caused by heart attack or angina, sometimes without any warning.

But thanks to new research from Dr. Sharon Zlochiver of the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Tel Aviv University, there’s new hope for potential heart attack victims. By looking at the electrical activity coupling two types of heart muscle cells, Dr. Zlochiver has discovered a new way of identifying an impending attack.

Dr. Zlochiver can not only predict when a heart attack will occur, but he can also help doctors ― and patients ― buy time before a deadly attack takes place. His research was published last year in the Biophysical Journal.

Keeping His Eye on the Balance

“Seventy percent of the heart is made up of myocytes, which are contractile muscle cells. The remaining 30% is mostly rigid structural cells called fibroblasts that work to hold the muscle in place,” Dr. Zlochiver explains. “As the heart ages and contends with factors such as high blood pressure or genetic disease, this balance begins to change.”

Through the course of his research, which was started at the University of Michigan, Dr. Zlochiver developed a mathematic model that shows when the proportion of structural fibroblast cells are at dangerous levels, at approximately 70% of the heart’s volume. According to Dr. Zlochiver, this is the “tipping point” where a heart attack is imminent.

The problem has been that these cells are not apparently differentiated from one another, which presented a challenge to Dr. Zlochiver. Though a regular EKG could not give the information he sought, Dr. Zlochiver was determined to see how the cell ratio within the heart could be measured by electrical activity. Studying the electric coupling –– tiny electric signals –– between myocytes and fibroblast cells, he was able to paint a more accurate picture of a heart’s health than could be deduced from even an MRI or CT scan.

“This coupling is crucial to the initiation of fibrillation,” he says. Indicating how the electrical impulses move in a healthy heart, in a synchronized ordered manner, he compares that to a diseased heart, where electric coupling is scattered and irregular and the impulses break into chaotic local “tornados.”

“Abnormal electrical activity causes the heart to contract abnormally,” he says. Working with his colleagues at the University of Michigan, Dr. Zlochiver is working to repair hearts in real patients at risk prophylactically, so that electrical coupling signals in diseased hearts resemble a more organized, “tornado-free” pattern.

Fixing a Broken Heart by Email

Dr. Zlochiver’s research will no doubt alter the way cardiac arrest is diagnosed and treated. “If we get an image from an MRI or CT from the inside of the heart, we can build a mathematical model and simulate electrical activity. That way, we can identify the problem point and stop fibrillation,” he says.

“We can use the knowledge of the electrical activity and the interaction between cells in order to give ideas on treatment. Physicians will have a better idea on how to treat specific patients. For example, physicians will be able to locally ablate or release drugs in cardiac areas that are especially susceptible to fibrillation.”

In the future, Dr. Zlochiver hopes that doctors will be able to send in scans of their patients’ hearts and the models he creates from the scans would help guide decisions on treatment.

Dr. Zlochiver, a recipient of a 2007 award from the American Heart Association for his work, is one of 23 bright new faculty recruits to Tel Aviv University.

 
Your Arteries on Wonder Bread


Landmark study from TAU shows how high carb foods cause heart attacks


Doctors have known for decades that foods like white bread and corn flakes aren`t good for cardiac health. In a landmark study, new research from Tel Aviv University now shows exactly how these high carb foods increase the risk for heart problems.

"Looking inside" the arteries of students eating a variety of foods, Dr. Michael Shechter of Tel Aviv University`s Sackler School of Medicine and the Heart Institute of Sheba Medical Center — with collaboration of the Endocrinology Institute — visualized exactly what happens inside the body when the wrong foods for a healthy heart are eaten. He found that foods with a high glycemic index distended brachial arteries for several hours.

Elasticity of arteries anywhere in the body can be a measure of heart health. But when aggravated over time, a sudden expansion of the artery wall can cause a number of negative health effects, including reduced elasticity, which can cause heart disease or sudden death.

Using a clinical and research technique pioneered by his laboratory in Israel, Dr. Shechter was able to visualize what happens inside our arteries before, during and after eating high carb foods. It is a first in medical history. The results were published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Time to skip the wedding cake?


Dr. Michael Shechter

"It`s very hard to predict heart disease," says Dr. Shechter, a fellow of the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association. "But doctors know that high glycemic foods rapidly increase blood sugar. Those who binge on these foods have a greater chance of sudden death from heart attack. Our research connects the dots, showing the link between diet and what`s happening in real time in the arteries."

Like the uncomfortable medical warnings on packets of cigarettes, this new research could lead to a whole new way to show patients the effects of a poor diet on our body.

Using 56 healthy volunteers, the researchers looked at four groups. One group ate a cornflake mush mixed with milk, a second a pure sugar mixture, the third bran flakes, while the last group was given a placebo (water). Over four weeks, Dr. Shechter applied his method of "brachial reactive testing" to each group. The test uses a cuff on the arm, like those used to measure blood pressure, which can visualize arterial function in real time.

The results were dramatic. Before any of the patients ate, arterial function was essentially the same. After eating, except for the placebo group, all had reduced functioning.

All roads lead to the endothelium

Enormous peaks indicating arterial stress were found in the high glycemic index groups: the cornflakes and sugar group. "We knew high glycemic foods were bad for the heart. Now we have a mechanism that shows how," says Dr. Shechter. "Foods like cornflakes, white bread, french fries, and sweetened soda all put undue stress on our arteries. We`ve explained for the first time how high glycemic carbs can affect the progression of heart disease." During the consumption of foods high in sugar, there appears to be a temporary and sudden dysfunction in the endothelial walls of the arteries.

Endothelial health can be traced back to almost every disorder and disease in the body. It is "the riskiest of the risk factors," says Dr. Shechter, who practices at the Chaim Sheba Medical Center — Tel Hashomer Hospital. There he offers a treatment that can show patients — in real time — if they have a high risk for heart attacks. "Medical tourists" from America regularly visit to take the heart test.

The take-away message? Dr. Shechter says to stick to foods like oatmeal, fruits and vegetables, legumes and nuts, which have a low glycemic index. Exercising every day for at least 30 minutes, he adds, is an extra heart-smart action to take

 
Powerful Nutrient Cocktail Can Put Kids with Crohn`s into Remission


TAU researcher promotes liquid nutrition to combat inflammatory bowel disease
Treating children with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) usually involves the same steroids-based medication prescribed to adults. But such treatments can have negative side effects for kids and teens dealing with IBD.

Dr. Raanan Shamir of Tel Aviv University`s Sackler School of Medicine and Schneider Children`s Medical Centre shows that there is another path to treating IBD in children: a nutritional formula that was first developed for astronauts. This supplement puts 60-70% of children with Crohn`s disease, a common IBD disorder, into remission — a success rate similar to that of traditional steroid-based drugs, but without side effects like malnutrition and growth retardation.

Dr. Shamir recently reported his research in the Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition.

Eating Like an Astronaut

Dr. Shamir`s research was inspired by the problem of malnutrition and growth retardation in children battling IBD. Steroids and other biological agents, the most common treatment for IBD, were having an adverse affect on the children`s growth, despite their effectiveness in adult patients.

It was a problem first tackled by NASA: How could astronauts most efficiently get their daily nutrients? The answer was a specially-designed powder that contains all the daily nutrients a person needs. Aboard spacecrafts, astronauts dine on this nutritional powder mixed with water. Since then, these powders have become a common item on the pharmacy shelf.

A similar concept works wonders for children suffering from IBD. "Prepared powder, with liquids, gives you all the nutritional requirements you need for the day," Dr. Shamir explains. "We don`t know why these formulas work, and nobody has shown that any one formula is preferable to another. People have to be committed and eat nothing else during the period of time they are on nutrition therapy, and it is difficult to do — but if they do it, they go into remission."

To induce remission, children need to be on nutrition therapy for 6-8 weeks. And in order to maintain remission, 25-50% of their caloric intake must be supplied by nutrition therapy, sometimes for years. This is why children experiencing the treatment need the support of physicians, dieticians, psychologists, and of course their families.

Dr. Shamir`s quest to educate the international medical community about the benefits of nutrition therapy has been an uphill battle. "The acceptance of this is difficult," he says. "You have to persuade the family. Not all physicians know it works, and it`s much easier to give someone a prescription than try to work with the child."

A Replacement for Steroids

"In adults, studies have shown that steroids are more effective in the battle against IBD than nutrition-based therapies. I think it is easier to get compliance from children, especially when it involves their growth. For adults, growth is not a concern — they just want to feel better," explains Dr. Shamir.

Dr. Shamir and his team of researchers have worked to show the international medical community that nutrition was equal to steroids in the treatment of children with IBD. "We published the most recent meta-analysis to show that nutrition is as good as steroids as a first-line therapy for Crohn`s disease," he says.

The next step in his research, says Dr. Shamir, is to "define exactly the role of nutrition in inducing remission in these patients, and the role of nutrition in maintaining remission.

 
Cancer-Causing Protein Can Also Help Fight the Tumors It Causes


TAU research uses the Ras protein to fight its own malign effects


Ras proteins tagged with green flourescence protein transfer from B (cancer) cells to NK (immune) cells

Oncogenes are genes that when mutated or expressed in high concentrations can cause normal cells to become cancerous. Now research from Tel Aviv University is demonstrating that Ras, one of the first oncogenes discovered, has the power to heal as well as harm.

Ph.D. student Oded Rechavi and his fellow researchers at Tel Aviv University`s Department of Neurobiology have found that Ras has the ability to transfer from cancer cells into immune cells — such as t-cells — a transfer that may be the key to creating new drugs to fight cancerous tumors.

Prof. Yoel Kloog, dean of the university`s Faculty of Life Sciences and a renowned expert in the field, is supervising the project. He and Rechavi published the discovery in the journal Public Library of Science One and a recent review about such cell-to-cell transferring of proteins in FEBS Letters.

Turning a cancer-causing protein against cancer itself

The idea that proteins can transfer between cells challenges the original theory of the cell, according to Rechavi. "All the energy flow, metabolism, and biochemistry of life is supposed to happen within the boundaries of an individual cell," he says. "Here we show that when cells in the immune system interact with other cells, proteins are exchanged without being secreted from the cell, and act in both the immune and original cells alike."


Oded Rechavi

"When Ras transfers from one cell to another, it strengthens the immune system. The immune cell that adopts the mutated Ras gets activated and reacts against the cancerous cell that donated the Ras. This does not happen for advanced tumors, but if we could control the movement of Ras, we would have a better understanding of how immune cells react against cancer" and provide the scientific basis for an entirely new class of cancer drugs.

The researchers are working to discover the mechanisms by which the Ras protein is transferred, and initial results look promising. One current theory Rechavi is investigating is that the membranes of the cells temporarily fuse together. What is certain, however, is that once t-cells acquire mutated Ras, they are able to generate clones with the ability to respond against this specific threat.

"When immune cells scan their targets they bind to their targets," he says. "When immune cells acquire normal Ras, nothing happens. But when they acquire mutated Ras from a potential tumor, it starts a cascade. This results in the production of cytokines that help the immune system and act against the cancer."

Transferring potential into a drug

Rechavi says that understanding the nature of this interaction between mutated Ras and immune t-cells can unlock mysteries about the nature of proteins and cells. The next step is to identify other proteins that, like Ras, are able to transfer outside of their cell of origin.

Rechavi is now conducting a scan of proteins in an attempt to identify which ones have similar characteristics and abilities to Ras, and how they might transfer in the body. The TAU researchers have developed a technology to scan hundreds of proteins and have already discovered many with transferring properties; they plan to publish their results soon.

The more researchers learn, the more they can exploit these cells to keep the human body healthy — but Rechavi warns that not all the news may be good. "It could be that a bad protein is able to transfer from cancer cells to immune cells as well, upon acquiring such protein the immune system will be less active," says Rechavi. "It`s also possible that a tumor could transfer the Ras protein into cells that normally support tumor growth, like stroma cells that grow blood vessels for the tumor. This is why we have to work to understand what is happening."

 
Stopping Viral Hijackers in Their Tracks


Dr. Ella Sklan,a new recruit to the Sackler School of Medicine , work on stopping the Hepatitis C virus from replicating in liver cells 


Over 200 million people around the world are infected by the communicable Hepatitis C virus (HCV), which eventually can lead to serious conditions such as liver cirrhosis and liver cancer.

Viruses can`t replicate by themselves, so they take over or "hijack" the host`s cellular machinery to reproduce themselves. Hepatitis C, often transmitted through blood contact is not an exception; it uses its host liver cell proteins for its own reproduction.

Dr. Ella Sklan, a new recruit to the Sackler School of Medicine at Tel Aviv University, focuses on the identification of liver proteins that enable Hepatitis C to replicate, hoping to both learn more about the viral life cycle and to find new targets for anti-viral therapy.

"Specific protein partners in the liver cell enable Hepatitis C replication," Dr. Sklan says. "If we stop this interaction between the viral proteins and the host cell partners, we may stop the virus from replicating. If the virus doesn`t replicate, it won`t spread and cause damage to the liver of the infected individual. We could stop this vicious cycle from continuing."

During her postdoctoral studies at Stanford University, Dr. Sklan and her colleagues isolated and identified a human protein that interacts with Hepatitis C. The virus uses this protein to divert intracellular cargo from its normal route and redirects it to the viral replication complex. "When we knock this protein down," she says, "the virus doesn`t replicate."

Dr. Sklan and her team are currently developing tests to identify inhibitors of this interaction. If found, such inhibitors will be lead compounds in the development of a much needed anti-viral drug to combat Hepatitis C.

There is still a long road to take, however, before a new drug will be added to the treatment regimen for the disease. The research is a labor of love, one that Dr. Sklan admits presents many challenges. "There are a lot of disappointments," she says. "Only one of the compounds of all of these labs is going to make it — but we`ve got to try."

 
In Pursuit of a Happiness Gene


TAU researches twins to find a biological door to the bright side


The pursuit of happiness characterizes the human condition. But for those suffering from stress, money trouble or chronic illness, a positive outlook on life can be difficult to find. Now, a Tel Aviv University researcher says we should look to our genes.

Prof. Yoram Barak of Tel Aviv University`s Sackler School of Medicine is engaged in the "attempt to find the happiness gene, the genetic component of happiness," which may be 50% responsible for an optimistic outlook. The research is a collaboration between Tel Aviv University and its affiliated research hospital, the Chaim Sheba Medical Centre at Tel Hashomer, which is the largest hospital in Israel.

Initial research findings have made Prof. Barak optimistic about their ability to succeed. "If something is genetic, it should have a large concordance among twins," he says. "And the twin studies we are looking at show that 50% of happiness is genetically determined." Prof. Barak is now working with Prof. Anat Achiron of the Sheba Medical Center to identify the specific genes that are associated with happiness.

Dr. Barak`s current findings in the hunt for the happiness gene were presented at The World Congress on Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis in Montreal, Canada in 2008, and most recently detailed in the journal Expert Review of Neurotherapeutics, April 2009.

Positive psychology


Prof. Yoram Barak

We may be a long way off from being able to genetically engineer happiness, Prof. Barak says, but we can start by thinking positively. Much of his work is based on positive psychology, which is the "fastest and largest growing area of psychology in the United States — and in the world," he says.

For the 50% of happiness that is not genetic, Prof. Barak is working on a program of positive psychology workshops, with exercises he recently tested in a one-day workshop for 120 participants at the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Israel. Early results indicate that the workshops improved the happiness level of participants by as much as 30%.

This work is dedicated to finding "practical and intervention oriented research and the application of psychology into medicine," says Prof. Barak. His research into the physical affects of mental state on patients with neurological diseases is an attempt to bridge the gap between psychology and clinical medicine.

Feeling good in mind and body

Prof. Barak says that the psychological benefits of the program were accompanied by physical benefits as well. "We were able to raise levels of happiness in these patients so they were just about equal to those of healthy subjects," he says. "If we can apply positive psychology, we can better their adherence to their treatment regime. And we have been able to show that there is a stabilization of the neurological disability as well."

For healthy individuals, Prof. Barak says that his happiness exercises can enrich their lives, too. Meanwhile, his search for the happiness gene goes on.

 
Treating Lazy Eyes with a Joystick


TAU develops computer game therapy now ready for treating adults


Four percent of all children suffer from amblyopia, better known as "lazy eye syndrome." Traditional treatment for the condition requires the use of an eye patch, often for months at a time, before the eye is corrected. This can lead to social stigma during a formative part of childhood, and worse, it`s not 100% effective.

Now Tel Aviv University`s eye and brain specialist Dr. Uri Polat of the Goldschleger Eye Research Institute has developed a computer therapy that could spare kids from the ugly eye patch, letting them enjoy themselves during therapy. The treatment, currently available for adults only, corrects the activity of the neurons in the brain, the main operator of eye function.

A leading expert in lazy eye syndrome recently assessed Dr. Polat`s invention and found that twenty hours in front of Dr. Polat`s computer treatment had the same effect as about 500 hours of wearing an eye patch. The review was published recently in Vision Research. Dr. Polat`s research group has also reported the new treatment`s efficacy in a number of scientific publications, including the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (PNAS).

Not just any video game will work


Dr. Uri Polat

In his carefully designed treatment, special and random objects appear, keeping the patient constantly alert and expecting the unexpected. A version of the therapy as a game is now in under development for children.

"As far as I know this is really a one-of-a-kind, non-invasive and effective way to treat lazy eye, without the use of an embarrassing eye patch," says Dr. Polat. "This is probably the first treatment that attempts to correct lazy eyes in adults, something that doctors had previously given up on. Doctors don`t suggest intervention after the age of nine, because it usually doesn`t work."

Making eye therapy fun

Taking it from the lab bench to a commercial product, Dr. Polat wants to make sure that the treatment will be as stimulating a regular video game. The existing game-like therapy he developed for the computer was "a bit boring," he admits, making it hard for some kids to sit through an entire session of treatment, which can be administered by a parent or therapist at home or at school.

That`s why he`s now collaborating with researchers at Rochester University in New York, where gaming specialists plan to add more entertainment value to the new therapy while keeping all of its therapeutic power.

"You see these poor kids in kindergarten wearing the patch. Everyone hates it, especially the parents who know what it`s doing to their kid`s self-esteem," says Dr. Polat. "My aim is to not only treat adults, but to treat kids using a computer two or three times a week, one hour each time, without the need for them having to wear a patch."

Dr. Polat`s solution currently has the U.S. Food and Drug Administration seal of approval, Dr. Polat adds.

 
Innovative Method to Teach Tots About Personal Cleanliness


Dr. Laura Rosen, TAU researcher notes the importance of handwashing for pre-schoolers
Swine flu reminded us how important washing our hands can be. Studies show that simple handwashing can decrease communicable gastrointestinal diseases by 50% and communicable respiratory diseases by 20%.

Now, with schools at special risk for swine flu, a Tel Aviv University researcher is bringing that message to educators and researchers.

Dr. Laura Rosen worked on a program to educate boys and girls ― and their teachers ― on the good sense of handwashing. And she’s had astounding success: using a combination of teacher education and teaching tools such as puppet shows and songs, she has increased the practice of handwashing before lunch in participating schools from 25% to about 60%. Her findings were published in the March 2009 issue of Health Education Research.

Dr. Rosen, of Tel Aviv University’s School of Public Health, studied 40 pre-schools and kindergartens in the Jerusalem area and discovered that teachers were often unaware of the direct connection between handwashing and health. “There was no connection being made between hygiene and illness,” she said, “so basic hygiene wasn’t being taught.”

Educating the Educators


A nurse in a Jerusalem classroom, teaching children about handwashing

Some of the practices in the pre-schools and kindergartens, such as the use of communal cups and common towels, indicated the need for education on disease transmission. Many of the educators lacked knowledge of how illness can be transferred. “We mostly wanted to get the message through to the educators,” says Dr. Rosen. “The teachers had a really important role ― whether the kids were washing their hands or not depended on the teachers,” who needed to provide an example for their charges.

To change the teachers’ behavior, Dr. Rosen and her fellow researchers used a multi-pronged approach that focused on the children as well. “You need to work on attitude,” she explains. “We ran seminars for teachers and taught them about the transmission of diseases.”

The next step for Dr. Rosen was to give the schools the tools they needed to put the theory into practice. “It was essential to give teachers the tools to change their students’ behaviour,” she said. “Some places didn’t even have soap. If you have a population that knows how important it is to wash hands, but doesn’t have soap, they aren’t in a very good situation. We also wanted to cut back on the sharing of cups, so we gave them individual cups.”

Seeing Is Believing


Dr. Laura Rosen

Dr. Rosen and her fellow researchers communicated the importance of handwashing to the educators with the use of a petri dish experiment. They asked educators to put their hands in three dishes: the first without washing their hands, the second after washing with water, and the third after washing with water and soap. By seeing colors that highlighted the bacteria, the educators could see the effects of handwashing for themselves, says Dr. Rosen.

Dr. Rosen first decided to tackle the issue when she became frustrated with the frequent illnesses of her own young children. “As a mother, I couldn’t figure out what was happening,” she said. “I was looking for ways to keep my family healthy.” Her research was conducted when she was a PhD student at Hebrew University.

“The major lesson is that hygiene and the transmission of illness are ongoing concerns,” she concludes. “And children have better things to do than to be sick all the time.”

 
A Breath Mint Made from ... Coffee?


TAU researchers brew a cup to fight bad breath


We all know why Starbucks puts boxes of breath mints close to the cash register. Your morning latte can create a startling aroma in your mouth, strong enough to startle your co-workers too.

But intriguing new research from Tel Aviv University by renowned breath specialist Prof. Mel Rosenberg of TAU`s Sackler Faculty of Medicine finds that a coffee extract can inhibit the bacteria that lead to bad breath. New laboratory tests have shown that the extract prevents malodorous bacteria from making their presence felt — or smelt.

"Everybody thinks that coffee causes bad breath," says Prof. Rosenberg, "and it`s often true, because coffee, which has a dehydrating effect in the mouth, becomes potent when mixed with milk, and can ferment into smelly substances."

But not always. "Contrary to our expectations, we found some components in coffee that actually inhibit bad breath," explains Prof. Rosenberg. The findings were presented last month to members of the International Society for Breath Odor Research in Germany by Yael Gov, a researcher in Prof. Rosenberg`s laboratory.

A "taster`s choice" for stopping bad bacteria


Prof. Mel Rosenberg
in the lab

In the laboratory, the team monitored the bacterial odor production of coffee in saliva. In the study, three different brands of coffee were tested: the Israeli brand Elite coffee, Landwer Turkish coffee, and Taster`s Choice. Prof. Rosenberg expected to demonstrate the malodor-causing effect of coffee in an in vitro saliva assay developed by Dr. Sarit Levitan in his laboratory. To his surprise, the extracts had the opposite effect.

"The lesson we learned here is one of humility," says Prof. Rosenberg. "We expected coffee would cause bad breath, but there is something inside this magic brew that has the opposite effect."

Prof. Rosenberg would love to isolate the bacterial-inhibiting molecule in order to reap the biggest anti-bacterial benefits from coffee. "It`s not the raw extract we will use, he says, "but an active material within it." His latest discovery could be the foundation for an entirely new class of mouthwash, breath mints and gum. Purified coffee extract can be added to a breath mint to stop bacteria from forming, stopping bad breath at its source, instead of masking the smell with a mint flavor.

Prof. Rosenberg is a successful scientist and inventor who has already developed a popular mouthwash sold widely in Europe, a pocket-based breath test, and an anti-odor chewing gum.

 

Editor: Roy Polad

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