Jefferson Opens Israeli Educational Center

From left: Mark L. Tykocinski, provost and executive vice president of academic affairs at Jefferson; Ami Appelbaum, chairman of the board of the Israel Innovation Authority; and Zvi Grunwald, executive director of the Jefferson Israel Center | Photo provided

Thomas Jefferson university last week opened the Jefferson Israel Center, a collaboration expected to strengthen research ties in Israel, create educational opportunities for students and invigorate international relationships.

The university has established similar centers in Japan and Italy dedicated to driving innovation across various disciplines.

The university believes the new center, which opened June 5 in Jerusalem, will give life to its vision for “redefining what’s humanly possible,” said Mark L. Tykocinski, provost and executive vice president of academic affairs at Jefferson.

“Israel today is what Silicon Valley was in the late 1990s,” he said. “It’s an ecosystem of innovation that has more technology startups per capita than anywhere in the world.”

Jefferson’s history with Israeli biomedical institutions, such as the Weizmann Institute of Sciences and the Hebrew University Hadassah Medical School, will allow it to “strengthen its existing partnerships and expand its ties beyond a purely biomedical sphere,” according to a university news release. Jefferson plans to support Israeli organizations that excel in design, textiles, architecture and fashion, and work with them to discern solutions to some of the world’s most significant problems.

Dina Ben Yehuda, dean of the Hebrew University Hadassah Faculty of Medicine and head of the Department of Hematology, said the collaboration between the medical school and Jefferson’s Sidney Kimmel Medical College was formalized by the two institutions more than three years ago.

The alliance has made possible the yearly placement of four to six students of the Military Track of Medicine (Tzameret) for a one-month rotation at Jefferson and the initiation of a variety of bilateral research efforts jointly funded and administered by investigators of both institutions, Ben Yehuda said.

“The inauguration of the Jefferson Israel Center is an event of strategic importance, and we envision that the center will provide the necessary framework for the bilateral administration of many cooperative activities and projects for disease management and improvement of quality and duration of life,” she said.

Zvi Grunwald, the James D. Wentzler Professor of Anesthesiology at the Sidney Kimmel Medical College, will serve as the Jefferson Israel Center’s executive director.

The center will collaborate with principal medical incubators like Sheba Innovation Initiative and other Israeli companies to develop strategies that target health inequality in Israel and the United States, the release said. By forming an alliance with the Israel Innovation Authority (IIA), the center will be able to take advantage of increased funding and explore various approaches to these global issues.

Ami Appelbaum, the chief scientist at the Ministry of Economy and Industry and chairman of the Israel Innovation Authority, said, “The ability to conduct experiments and exams in the world’s leading health institutes and clinics is an important step in the development of Israeli startups and companies, beyond the research and development stages.”

Appelbaum and Tykocinski signed a joint letter of intent authorizing institutions to release calls for proposals that connect health care startups in Israel to Jefferson’s academic, clinical enterprise.

The declaration helps groundbreaking products and services arrive on the markets in a more timely fashion, the release said.

“The collaboration with the Jefferson Israel Center will create a win-win situation to foster innovation, create business opportunities and achieve major medical developments,” Appelbaum said.


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