Letter from Our CEO

April 1, 2022


Dear Friends,

Two days ago, I returned from a visit to Tel Aviv University (TAU) and it was great to be back on campus. For the first time in more than two years, the professionals from 23 friends' associations around the world gathered to learn about and see first-hand the work happening at TAU. We met with professors and researchers and listened in amazement as they explained their work, took lab tours, heard from scholarship recipients, and — despite cold weather and a little rain — had an incredible and productive time in Israel.

We met with Yishai Blank, the new dean of the Buchmann Faculty of Law, and heard from students who work in the Tel Aviv University legal clinics. The clinics have been a catalyst for social change in Israel. They provide students with hands-on legal experience in conjunction with faculty and leading attorneys who are experts in their fields. We heard from a third-year law student who was the lead on a case helping eight women (all immigrants) who were being abused and mistreated by the cleaning service for which they worked. When they spoke up to complain, they were fired. It was incredibly moving to hear the story of how the students empowered the women and were able to secure justice on their behalf — the abusive manager was sentenced to eight years in prison and the women got their jobs back.

Dr. Ben Maoz's lab focuses on advanced tools for improving health. He and his team recently created a technology that restores senses in hands damaged because of an injury. Using hybrid sensors and a self-powered device that bypasses damaged nerves, the patient is able to use their hands and feel sensation. Dr. Maoz also told us about the "organs on a chip" which are used for drug development and personalized medicine. By creating human models using a patient's own cells and genetic makeup, researchers and doctors can test drugs to see how a patient will react. According to Dr. Maoz, 70% of people take drugs that are not optimal for their condition. This organ on a chip technology enables a personalized approach which is more effective in patient care.

Professor Yair Bar-Haim, the Director of the National Center for Traumatic Stress & Resilience at Tel Aviv University, the largest mental health treatment center in Israel, provided us with an update on his work treating post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Using MRI technology, he and his team have been able to pinpoint the exact spot of trauma in the brain, bring up the traumatic memory, and target it for treatment in hopes of eradicating it. Early reports look promising for helping patients, including IDF soldiers. The clinic will treat more than 1,000 patients annually and Professor Bar-Haim's protocols are used worldwide, including by the US Department of Defense for treating combat soldiers suffering from trauma.

"We want people to not know where the hospital is located," was Professor Noam Shomron's opening line when we met with him. He leads a multi-disciplinary team of scientists with the primary goal of translating genomic data and novel ideas into clinical reality. In short, they try to prevent human disease by studying DNA and bioinformatics. He and his team developed a non-invasive blood test for pregnant woman in which they can read the genetic makeup of the embryo at ten weeks.

Professor Tova Milo, the first female dean of the Faculty of Exact Sciences, is doing incredible work to support the increasing number of women in the Faculty and fields they represent. She has piloted innovative mentoring programs for women to provide support and guidance. It was gratifying to learn about her determination to help ensure that more women enter and remain in the field of exact sciences.

I am excited to introduce you to and share the work of Tel Aviv University professors through my monthly letters, and I am grateful for your support which is enabling the ground-breaking research and innovation. Thank you for being my partner.

Shabbat shalom.

Jennifer Gross
Chief Executive Officer