It’s undeniable. The Technion is driving transformative change well beyond Israel. More than ever before, the university’s impact is being felt and seen here in America. This Hannukah, as we gather to bask in the glow of friends, family, and menorahs, I invite you to take a moment to consider – and if you are so inclined, to share with others – how the Technion is serving as a light all over the world.
Take cancer, which claims the lives of one in every five Americans. At the Technion’s Integrative Cancer Center — led by visionaries Nobel Laureate Professor Aaron Ciechanover and Dr. Ze’ev Ronai — an unparalleled approach to multidisciplinary research is uncovering revolutionary treatments for this deadly disease.
Researchers in disciplines from computer science to chemistry, from biology to industrial engineering are working together in this Center, harnessing the tools of human knowledge to push the boundaries of medicine. For instance, in the lab of Professor Ester Segal, researchers have discovered a way to use silicon nanomaterials to deliver chemotherapy drugs directly to cancerous tumors, with less damage to the surrounding tissue.
Like Professor Segal, many Technion experts are showing the world that the biggest scientific discoveries of our time are likely to come from the smallest of places. The Technion’s Russell Berrie Nanotechnology Institute is pushing the boundaries of quantum science, providing new insight into the most minute particles in our universe. This research holds vast potential to revolutionize fields from communications, to medicine, to security.
Yet, it’s not only in labs where the Technion is driving the development of solutions. This clear truth was on display in Washington, D.C. in late October, as we gathered for the American Technion Society’s Presidential Forum, where Technion alumni shared their stories about their products, patents and companies that are shaking up fields from pharmaceuticals to fashion.
I came away from the presentation of Yael Vizel — an alumna and former IDF Air Force officer who founded the startup Zeekit — feeling like I’d just watched the Jetsons go shopping. Her company has developed image-processing technology that allows online shoppers try on clothing “virtually,” using an avatar of their bodies on screen.
In the medical device space, companies founded by Technion alumni have saved thousands of lives by turning conventional wisdom upside down. For instance, Dr. Eitan Konstantino, the CEO of QT Vascular, shared with us how his companies – which hold more than 50 patents – have reinvented approaches employed by cardiologists for more than four decades. His company’s medical devices have been used to treat and manage blocked arteries in the heart and legs for more than half a million American patients.
Another Technion alumni, Professor Emeritus Yoram Palti, spoke about NovoCure – a company he founded that is saving thousands of lives with its novel approach to treating tumors with electric fields. Approved by the FDA in 2011, NovoCure filed for a $300 million IPO last September and is quickly gaining international renown as one of the most innovative contributions in the global fight to cure cancer, treating 3,000 people with brain tumors previously thought untreatable.
In years to come, the Technion’s public visibility will only increase as it opens new international campuses in New York and China. On every visit to the the Jacobs Technion-Cornell Institute at Cornell Tech in New York City, I am amazed by the incredible progress our students and postdocs are making — launching the companies of tomorrow. In a few weeks I will travel to China to witness the groundbreaking of the the Guangdong Technion Israel Institute of Technology, which will become a nexus of cooperation between Israeli and Chinese academics and industrialists. By exporting the best practices of Israeli innovation and education, the Technion promises to inspire, entice, and engage people across our country and beyond.
Our organization is introducing Israel’s greatest institution of science and technology to a much broader segment of the American public. There is simply so much to share with great relevance for our communities. This is why I recently launched a new Facebook page and Twitter feed, taking to social media to offer my perspective on these exciting developments.
I invite you to do the same. Click here to connect with me on Facebook and click here to follow me on Twitter. More importantly, join with us in sharing the Technion’s powerful story with your own networks, whether you are on Facebook, or around your dinner table. Together, we can make the Technion a household name like never before – and, in doing so, make a tremendous difference for Israel, America, and the world.
I wish you and your family a happy Hanukkah.