Letter from Our CEO

April 5, 2023


Dear Friends,

Tonight is the beginning of Passover, the holiday that commemorates the exodus of the Jewish people from slavery to freedom. It is from this hard-won freedom that the democratic state of Israel was created 75 years ago. Sometimes democracy can be messy. As Passover begins, we hope the pause of the proposed judicial reforms will allow cooler heads to prevail and the country to coalesce and move forward in a more united way. We have watched the demonstrations in Israel in which hundreds of thousands of Israelis have been coming out weekly to protest. Through these peaceful expressions Israel has shown the world democracy at its best. It is hard for us as supporters and friends of Tel Aviv University (TAU) and Israel to watch the internal turmoil taking place in the country. But, as President Ariel Porat stressed at the professionals' meetings on campus in January, TAU is a beacon of academic freedom. That is what we are furthering when we support TAU.

Last week the European Research Council (ERC) published the results of the prestigious ERC Advanced Grants for 2022. This honor acknowledges scientists who are leaders in the field and extraordinary in terms of originality and significance of their contribution to research. Tel Aviv University researchers received six ERC grants, the largest number awarded to any country, including: Professor Inna Slutsky, a brain scientist; Professor Ran Spiegler, a researcher in economic theory; Professor Tamar Herzig, a historian; Professor Benny Applebaum from the School of Electrical Engineering; Professor Lilach Hadany, an explorer in the world of plant sciences; and Professor Gideon Bohak from the Department of Jewish and Talmud Philosophy.

In addition to winning an ERC Grant, Professor Hadany gained world attention with her recently published research that shows plants scream when they are under stress or hurt. Her study showed that tomato and tobacco plants emit popping sounds when they are dehydrated or physically damaged.

A new clinical trial being done in Professor Yair Bar-Haim's lab demonstrates that a new technology-driven treatment for social anxiety relieved the symptoms of 50% of participating patients. According to Professor Bar-Haim, this new therapy has an efficacy similar to the first-line drug treatments currently available. I encourage you to watch the research video which further explains the new research.

Professor Gilad Yossifon and his team have developed a micro-robot that can navigate within a biological sample, identify different types of cells, capture targeted damaged cells, and transport them for further analysis. The robot is the size of a biological cell (approximately 10 microns across) and can deliver a drug and/or a gene into the captured targeted cell. This development may help promote research in the field of single cell analysis as well as find uses in medical diagnosis, drug transport and screening, surgery, and environmental protection. To learn more and see the robot in action, here is the research video.

Your support of Tel Aviv University makes it possible for TAU to remain the pillar of innovation where researchers, scientists, students, and professors have the opportunity to dream big and deliver even bigger results. As we celebrate Israel's 75th birthday, we invite you to join us in a scholarship campaign, 75-for-75, to support the next generation of changemakers. Please help us ensure that a TAU education is accessible to all students.

Wishing you a chag Peseach sameach.

Jennifer Gross
Chief Executive Officer