Letter from Our CEO

August 2021


Dear Friends,

As I write to you, the American Friends of Tel Aviv University (AFTAU) team is all-hands-on-deck planning our virtual gala which will be held on October 7th. We are looking forward to honoring four incredible people who deserve recognition for what they have done and continue to do for Tel Aviv University (TAU) and for Israel. Dr. Anita Friedman, Maya Kadar Kovalsky, Nadav Kadar, and Israeli actress, author, and activist Noa Tishby all inspire others and lead by example. Along with our gala co-chairs, Dr. Kathy Fields and Dr. Garry Rayant, they demonstrate the importance of vision, leadership, philanthropy, and a passion for the University and for Israel.

It has been extremely gratifying to see the support from so many, including multiple celebrities who are joining the festivities because they recognize the importance of Israel and Tel Aviv University's contributions to the world. Invitations will be sent via mail and email shortly, so please look for a blue envelope with further information about how you can join what promises to be an entertaining and informative evening. Funds raised will support three significant initiatives at TAU: student scholarships, medical research, and the newly created Center for Combatting Pandemics.

It is your support that makes it possible for researchers such as Neta Erez to discover a breakthrough in the battle against breast cancer. She and her team have mapped the spread of breast cancer cells by analyzing tissue changes in other parts of the body, in what looks to be a significant development in the battle against metastatic breast cancer. According to Professor Erez, most patients with cancer do not die from the primary tumor but from tumor metastases. I encourage you to read about how the team used lung tissue to map the spread of cancer cells.

As COVID variants continue to develop, researchers at TAU are pivoting their work and addressing the unknown and new issues that arise. A recent joint study between researchers at TAU, Harvard, and Israeli HMO Maccabi Healthcare Services, showed that the Pfizer COVID vaccine is 78% effective in pregnant women. The study showed that none of the more than 15,000 women reported severe adverse reactions to the vaccine. Professor Dan Cohen, an epidemiologist and former head of the School of Public Health at the Sackler Faculty of Medicine, is an advisor to Israel's Health Ministry on matters that include vaccine policy. He is studying the efficacy of vaccines by examining recovered COVID subjects. The insights will provide valuable references for new vaccines.

In addition to the medical arena, TAU researchers in marine biology and zoology are making important discoveries and recommendations about our planet and protecting our natural resources. A new study documents how many protected marine areas are harmed by overfishing and other human pressures.

I will continue to share the innovations and life-changing research coming from Tel Aviv University so you will be informed and as excited about it as I am.

Enjoy the rest of summer. Wishing you a Shabbat shalom.

Jennifer Gross
Chief Executive Officer