Israeli Interdisciplinary Clinician Rafael Beyar Talks Medical Innovation at Penn

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rafael beyar-penn center for innovation
Rafael Beyar is one of the most distinguished medical doctors in Israel. | Zvi Koren

The Penn Center for Innovation hosted one of Israel’s most prominent interdisciplinary clinicians on Oct. 23.  

Rafael Beyar serves as director of Rambam Health Care Campus in Haifa and is known for his ability to spearhead collaboration between doctors and engineers working to commercialize medical devices.

He spoke at the PCI about university-based innovation from Israel’s perspective.

“He’s fostered this nexus of collaboration between academia and industry-leading researchers who don’t typically collaborate with each other,” said Laurie Actman, PCI’s chief marketing, communications and program officer. “Penn has launched several initiatives to foster increased collaboration between doctors and engineers to support medical device innovation, so we’re hoping to learn from his experience in Israel.”

The PCI formed in 2014 and helps facilitate ideas on campus into products and services with economic and social value. In 2018, 359 Penn faculty inventions have been submitted and reviewed. Also in 2018 there have been 801 patents filed, including one by co-inventors William A. Beltran and Gustavo Aguirre. The duo was awarded a U.S. patent for a new gene therapy for the treatment of the most common form of inherited retinal disease, X-linked Retinitis Pigmentosa.

One area Actman said the PCI is aiming to learn about from Beyar is telemedicine.

“Everyone’s trying to figure out how to integrate that with everything else, and fostering these types of collaborations is hard and takes a lot of dedicated work and vision,” she said. “It’s always helpful to hear from someone else how they did it and to pick up some inspiration and practical tips.”

Beyar’s resume speaks for itself. He’s served in his post since 2006, but before that he won numerous academic awards. In 1999, he earned the Taub Prize for Excellence in Research, and in 2002 he got the Michelle Mirowski Award for Accomplishments in Cardiovascular Medicine from the Israeli Heart Association.

He is now on sabbatical touring the United States. In addition to his time at Penn, he is visiting friends in New York and San Francisco and meeting with officials from the Food and Drug Administration to explore potential collaborations in medical technology.

Beyar will be discussing what he does at Rambam.

“We put a lot of emphasis into developing and implementing new medical technology for health care, including new medical devices, digital health and other technologies,” he said. “Over the years, we have spun out medical technology companies that were able to reach the U.S. market and other markets in the world.”

Beyar pointed to his work inventing a robotic catheterization system, which allows physicians to conduct remote surgery. The catheterization system has been approved by the FDA and is in the American market.

“There are many other examples,” Beyar said. “Our hospital is well known worldwide for development of technologies.”

Beyar is also scheduled to meet with Mark Turco, Penn’s chief innovation and corporate outreach officer, and PJ Brennan, Penn’s chief medical officer.

[email protected]; 215-832-0737

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