TAU Stars Shine on Jam-Packed Campus Visit

AFTAU group experiences broad multidisciplinary achievements at Israel's leading university

Tel Aviv — Private meetings with Tel Aviv University's top researchers and a chance to interact with outstanding students filled a busy agenda as the "Discover TAU: Campus and Beyond" mission visited the University's beautiful campus.

Prof. Eran Tromer of the Blavatnik School of Computer Science introduced the group to his current research in cyber security. With work that's drawing international attention, he and his fellow researchers are developing technology that can break into any and all technological systems — discovering in the process how to prevent such security breaches.

Prof. Dan Peer of TAU's Department of Cell Research and Immunology specializes in nanomedicine and "theranostics," a new field of therapeutic diagnostics personalized for the individual. As Scientific Director of the new Center for Nano Research and Nano Technology, a groundbreaking consortium of 11 labs, he explained his innovative approach for delivering medicines directly to diseased cells, a stealth attack similar to a "Trojan horse," he said. "It may sound like science fiction, but we are turning fiction into reality."

Dr. Yechiel Elkabetz, a renowned expert in stem cell research at the Department of Cell and Developmental Biology, gave guests an inside look at his first-of-its-kind research into the exact instant cells begin to differentiate and turn into nerve cells. Demonstrating the highly advanced microscope in his lab, he explained that his research is the first step toward enabling scientists to manipulate the process of producing only desired nerve cells for the understanding and treatment of brain diseases.

Bringing resonance to these scientific perspectives, Prof. Shai Lavi, Head of the Edmund J. Safra Center for Ethics, illuminated Israel's unique ethical view of stem cell research. He noted that the country is more liberal than many others, even exporting stem cells to countries around the world. Jewish law is very liberal on these matters, he explained, and modern technology is commonly used for conservative purposes.

Prof. Ronit Satchi-Fainaro of TAU's Vascular Biology and Nano Medicine Research Laboratory spoke about her groundbreaking work in breast cancer research. Comparing dormant and progressive tumors in the lab, she and her research team work are finding new ways to target hidden tumors and treat them with pinpoint accuracy. Her oft-stated goal is to turn cancer into a chronic, manageable disease.

Underscoring the richness of the TAU curriculum, the group was treated to a private mini-concert by outstanding violin, piano, voice and cello students at the Buchmann-Mehta School of Music, handpicked by Israel Philharmonic maestro Zubin Mehta to represent the school. And they had the opportunity to see a sample debate by representatives of the university's prize-winning debate team who impressed with their rhetorical deftness.

At lunch, the group enjoyed candid conversations with students from the Sackler Faculty of Medicine, and TAU International, the university's English language suite of undergrad and graduate courses. TAU President Prof. Joseph Klafter spoke about TAU's ever-expanding global outreach, including new TAU International programs, collaborations with topflight North American universities and institutions, and a new focus on Asia. "For two or three years now, we have been looking eastward towards India, Singapore and China, with China providing the most active programs. We have a connection to the city of Nanjing, from which we bring about a thousand executives to TAU every few months to do internships in our businesses," he said.

To round out their multifaceted immersion on campus, the group met with students participating in StarTAU, the university's remarkably successful and innovative incubator for student and alumni entrepreneurs. Through mentorship. funding, classes and seminars, business networking and international connections, StarTAU's focus on innovative startups is a uniquely positioned in the innovation nation.


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