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  • richardmitnick 8:12 pm on March 19, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Hydrogen On Demand, Technion-Israel Institute of Technology   

    From Technion: “Hydrogen On Demand” 

    Technion bloc


    March 19, 2017

    T³Dr. Amir Bahar, Co-founder & CEO Nurami Medical Nanofiber Technology

    Technion researchers have developed a new method for the production of hydrogen from water using solar energy. The new method will make it possible to produce the hydrogen in a centralized manner far from the solar farm, cost-effectively, safely and efficiently.
    Technion-Israel Institute of Technology researchers have developed a new approach to the production of hydrogen from water using solar energy. In findings published yesterday in Nature Materials, the researchers explain that this approach will make it possible to produce hydrogen in a centralized manner at the point of sale (for example, at a gas station for electric cars fueled by hydrogen) located far from the solar farm. The new technology is expected to significantly reduce the cost of producing the hydrogen and shipping it to the customer.

    The study was led by Avigail Landman, a doctoral student in the Nancy & Stephen Grand Technion Energy Program (GTEP), and Dr. Hen Dotan from the Electrochemical Materials & Devices Lab. Ms. Landman is working on her doctorate under the guidance of Prof. Avner Rothschild from the Faculty of Materials Science and Engineering, and Prof. Gideon Grader, Dean of the Faculty of Chemical Engineering.

    The study published in Nature Materials was supported by the Israeli Centers of Research Excellence (I-CORE) for Solar Fuel Research (funded by the Planning and Budgeting Committee of the Council for Higher Education of Israel), the Ministry of National Infrastructures, Energy and Water, the European Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking (FCH JU), the Grand Technion Energy Program (GTEP), donor Ed Satell and the Adelis Foundation.

    Hydrogen can be produced from water, and therefore production does not depend on access to non-renewable natural resources.
    Using hydrogen fuel would reduce the dependence on fossil fuels such as oil and natural gas, whose availability depends on geographical, political and other factors, and would increase the energy available to the earth’s population. Unlike diesel and gasoline engines that emit considerable pollution into the air, the only byproduct of hydrogen fuel utilization is water.

    Because of the advantages of hydrogen fuel, many countries – led by Japan, Germany and the United States – are investing vast sums of money in programs for the development of environmentally friendly (“green”) technologies for the production of hydrogen. Most hydrogen is currently produced from natural gas in a process that emits carbon dioxide into the air, but it is also possible to produce hydrogen from water by splitting the water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen in a process called electrolysis. However, since electricity production itself is an expensive and polluting process, researchers at the Technion and around the world are developing a photoelectrochemical (PEC) cell that utilizes solar energy to split water into hydrogen and oxygen directly, without the need for external power source.

    The main challenges in the development of PEC solar farms for the production of hydrogen are 1.) keeping the hydrogen and the oxygen separate from each other, 2.) collecting the hydrogen from millions of PEC cells, and 3.) transporting the hydrogen to the point of sale. The Technion team solved these challenges by developing a new method for PEC water splitting. With this method, the hydrogen and oxygen are formed in two separate cells – one that produces hydrogen, and another that produces oxygen. This is in contrast to the conventional method, in which the hydrogen and oxygen are produced within the same cell, and separated by a thin membrane that prevents them from intermixing and forming a flammable and explosive mixture.

    The process allows geographic separation between the solar farm consisting of millions of PEC cells that produce oxygen exclusively, and the site where the hydrogen is produced in a centralized, cost-effective and efficient manner. They accomplished this with a pair of auxiliary electrodes made of nickel hydroxide, an inexpensive material used in rechargeable batteries, and a metal wire connecting them.
    “In the present article, we describe a new method for producing hydrogen through the physical separation of hydrogen production and oxygen production,” says Ms. Landman. “According to our cost estimate, our method could successfully compete with existing water splitting methods and serve as a cheap and safe platform for the production of hydrogen.”

    The vision of the Technion researchers is geographic separation between the sites where the oxygen and hydrogen are produced: at one site, there will be a solar farm that will collect the sun’s energy and produce oxygen, while hydrogen is produced in a centralized manner at another site, miles away. Thus, instead of transporting compressed hydrogen from the production site to the sales point, it will only be necessary to swap the auxiliary electrodes between the two sites. Economic calculations performed in collaboration with research fellows from Evonik Creavis GmbH and the Institute of Solar Research at the German Aerospace Center (DLR), indicate the potential for significant savings in the setup and operating costs of hydrogen production.

    The method developed at the Technion for separating hydrogen production and oxygen production was the basis for the development of new two-stage electrolysis technology. This technology, which was developed by Dr. Hen Dotan, enables hydrogen production at high pressure and with unprecedented efficiency, thus significantly reducing hydrogen production costs. The new technology is now in its pre-industrial development stage.

    See the full article here .

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    Technion Campus

    A science and technology research university, among the world’s top ten,
    dedicated to the creation of knowledge and the development of human capital and leadership,
    for the advancement of the State of Israel and all humanity.

  • richardmitnick 11:51 am on March 9, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Tech Women 2017, Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, The Rosalyn August Foundation for the Empowerment of Young Women,   

    From Technion: “A Better World – through Science and Engineering” 

    Technion bloc



    Tech Women 2017

    Around 700 excelling female high-school students from all over the country visited Technion as part of the Tech Women 2017 conference, organized to encourage young women to opt for academic studies in science and engineering.

    From Kiryat Shmona all the way to Ma’ale Edomim; from Kibbutz Sasa to Ashdod: around 700 excelling female high-school students visited the Technion last Thursday, in honor of the annual Tech Women 2017 conference held by the Technion on International Women’s Day on March 8th. “Studying at the Technion means making the world a better place through science and engineering,” said Prof. Orit Hazan, Dean of Undergraduate Studies, in her opening remarks.

    The conference, which took place courtesy of The Rosalyn August Foundation for the Empowerment of Young Women, was designed to encourage excelling female high-school students to choose science and engineering for their academic studies.

    The participants were students majoring in 5-pt. mathematics and the fields of science and technology. They met with female researchers and staff members, Technion graduates and current graduate students. They toured labs and were exposed to the various research and study subjects in the different faculties.

    “You are here because you were chosen, because we are positive that your future lies here, at the Technion,” said Orly Reiss, an alumnus of the Technion’s Faculty of Aerospace Engineering, who moderated the opening ceremony. After the opening event, each student visited two of the nine hosting faculties: Electrical Engineering; Computer Science; Mechanical Engineering; Aerospace Engineering; Civil & Environmental Engineering; Chemical Engineering; Materials Science & Engineering; Chemistry; and Physics.

    “In the very first graduating class of the Technion, which opened in 1924, there were 16 men and one woman,” said Prof. Peretz Lavie, President of the Technion. “Today about 37% of our undergraduates are women, and our goal is to reach 50% in all the departments. This special day is dedicated to persuading female high-school students that they belong here at the Technion and that they are able to do so. The future of the State of Israel depends on scientific and engineering knowledge, and we look forward to seeing these students here in a few years attending the Technion’s opening ceremony at the beginning of the academic year.”

    Dr. Tzipi Horowitz-Kraus of the Faculty of Education in Science and Technology, said: “It is very exciting to see the future generation of female scientists of Israel.” She urged the students to approach their studies passionately and consciously. She spoke of her own brother, who was extremely intelligent but had difficulties reading, and of her decision to specialize in the field of language acquisition. Dr. Horowitz-Kraus, who is the founder of the Technion’s Educational Neuroimaging Center, shared her discoveries regarding the connection between brain development and the development of language and reading skills in infants and children. “I examine the child’s brain as he or she listens to a story, and try to understand the processes taking place and the way listening improves future reading skills.”

    Sarah Nagosa, a PhD student at the Ruth & Bruce Rappaport Faculty of Medicine, discussed the topic of her dissertation: eye diseases and their treatment. Nagosa immigrated to Israel from Ethiopia at the age of three, and grew up in Kiryat Malachi. “I only first heard of the Technion when I was 17 years old, when several American donors came to visit my high school. I decided that day that this is what I want to do – to attend the Technion. Of course, I had apprehensions – what if I’m not accepted? What if I’m not smart enough? But I applied for admission and was accepted to the Faculty of Biology. The beginning wasn’t easy – I felt so small and the campus was so huge. It was hard for me to find common ground with the rest of the students. But I slowly realized that we all had the same apprehensions, and I suddenly found the courage to ask questions. Today, working on my research and serving as a teaching assistant at the same time, I can tell you that while the Technion might be tough academically, it is “soft” and simple in every other way: the dorms, tutoring and any other form of assistance. The difficulties have not disappeared, but I’ve learned to overcome them, knowing that my ultimate goal is worth it.”

    See the full article here .

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    Technion Campus

    A science and technology research university, among the world’s top ten,
    dedicated to the creation of knowledge and the development of human capital and leadership,
    for the advancement of the State of Israel and all humanity.

  • richardmitnick 1:48 pm on March 3, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, Where Do Messy Planetary Nebulae Come From?   

    From AAS NOVA: ” Where Do Messy Planetary Nebulae Come From?” 


    American Astronomical Society

    3 March 2017
    Susanna Kohler

    This Hubble image shows the planetary nebula NGC 5189. This nebula’s strong asymmetry suggests it was very likely formed by a triple stellar system. [NASA/ESA/Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)]

    If you examined images of planetary nebulae, you would find that many of them have an appearance that is too “messy” to be accounted for in the standard model of how planetary nebulae form. So what causes these structures?

    Examples of planetary nebulae that have a low probability of having been shaped by a triple stellar system. They are mostly symmetric, with only slight departures (labeled) that can be explained by instabilities, interactions with the interstellar medium, etc. [Bear and Soker 2017]

    A Range of Looks

    At the end of a star’s lifetime, in the red-giant phase, strong stellar winds can expel the outer layers of the star. The hot, luminous core then radiates in ultraviolet, ionizing the gas of the ejected stellar layers and causing them to shine as a brightly colored “planetary nebula” for a few tens of thousands of years.

    Planetary nebulae come in a wide variety of morphologies. Some are approximately spherical, but others can be elliptical, bipolar, quadrupolar, or even more complex.

    It’s been suggested that non-spherical planetary nebulae might be shaped by the presence of a second star in a binary system with the source of the nebula — but even this scenario should still produce a structure with axial or mirror symmetry.

    A pair of scientists from Technion — Israel Institute of Technology, Ealeal Bear and Noam Soker, argue that planetary nebulae with especially messy morphologies — those without clear axial or point symmetries — may have been shaped by an interacting triple stellar system instead.

    Technion bloc

    Examples of planetary nebulae that might have been shaped by a triple stellar system. They have some deviations from symmetry but also show signs of interacting with the interstellar medium. [Bear and Soker 2017]

    Departures from Symmetry

    To examine this possibility more closely, Bear and Soker look at a sample of thousands planetary nebulae and qualitatively classify each of them into one of four categories, based on the degree to which they show signs of having been shaped by a triple stellar progenitor. The primary signs the authors look for are:

    1. Symmetries
    If a planetary nebula has a strong axisymmetric or point-symmetric structure (i.e., it’s bipolar, elliptical, spherical, etc.), it was likely not shaped by a triple progenitor. If clear symmetries are missing, however, or if there is a departure from symmetry in specific regions, the morphology of the planetary nebula may have been shaped by the presence of stars in a close triple system.

    2.Interaction with the interstellar medium
    Some asymmetries, especially local ones, can be explained by interaction of the planetary nebula with the interstellar medium. The authors look for signs of such an interaction, which decreases the likelihood that a triple stellar system need be involved to produce the morphology we observe.

    Examples of planetary nebulae that are extremely likely to have been shaped by a triple stellar system. They have strong departures from symmetry and don’t show signs of interacting with the interstellar medium. [Bear and Soker 2017]

    Influential Trios

    From the images in two planetary nebulae catalogs — the Planetary Nebula Image Catelog and the HASH catalog — Bear and Soker find that 275 and 372 planetary nebulae are categorizable, respectively. By assigning crude probabilities to their categories, the authors estimate that the total fraction of planetary nebulae shaped by three stars in a close system is around 13–21%.

    The authors argue that in some cases, all three stars might survive. This means that we may be able to find direct evidence of these triple stellar systems lying in the hearts of especially messy planetary nebulae.

    Ealeal Bear and Noam Soker 2017 ApJL 837 L10. doi:10.3847/2041-8213/aa611c

    See the full article here .

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  • richardmitnick 2:14 pm on February 1, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, The "Tech Triangle",   

    From Technion via Forbes: “Technion Spreads Its Knowhow To China And NYC In A New Tech Triangle” 

    Technion bloc

    Israel Institute of Technology



    Jan 31, 2017
    Rebecca Fannin

    Technion University was welcomed to New York City at a recent event where Technion’s President Peretz Lavie and Dan Huttenlocher, dean of Cornell Tech, shared plans on the campus being constructed on Roosevelt Island to bring game-changing science and technology education from Israel to New York City. While creating an Applied Sciences graduate school in New York City, Technion simultaneously is opening a campus in southern China’s Guangdong province.

    The technology world is at the forefront of an evolving trend – call it the Tech Triangle — that links Israel with China and the U.S. for venture capital and research and development of next generation breakthroughs. It’s a new angle on advances made by this strong trio of tech hubs.

    Israel and Silicon Valley have long dominated technological leadership and startup prowess, with Technion and Stanford turning out top engineering and entrepreneurial talent. China, which has an equivalent with Tsinghua, has joined this trio and is increasingly regarded as an innovator of breakthrough technologies from virtual reality to artificial intelligence. With 1.2million patents, China today ranks third worldwide for the number of patents – compared with to 2.5 million for the U.S. – and places second globally for venture capital investment, at nearly $50 billion in deals, narrowing the gap with the U.S. at $72 billion in VC investment. Israel comes in fourth globally for VC totals.

    The China link is strong and growing as it angles to become an innovative economic power from a manufacturing center and a good copier of western tech brands. China’s tech titans Baidu, Alibaba, Tencent and VCs such as Horizons Ventures have been acquiring and investing in both Israeli and American technology companies and setting up R&D centers. Meanwhile, VC funds are drawing capital from China sources as incubators and accelerators funded by Chinese have opened in Israel and Silicon Valley.

    The ties make sense, despite the challenges of market entry and expansion. Israeli companies need large markets for expansion. Chinese companies need access to leading edge technologies. Silicon Valley has long been a crossroads, leveraging venture capital and tech knowhow from the top hubs.

    A new Silk Road is evolving, and such players as the Technion Israel Institute of Technology with its new campuses in New York City and southern China are helping to create an important Tech Triangle of innovation. Silicon Dragon explores this Tech Triangle at a VC and tech forum held at the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, February 20.

    See the full article here .

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    Technion Campus

    A science and technology research university, among the world’s top ten,
    dedicated to the creation of knowledge and the development of human capital and leadership,
    for the advancement of the State of Israel and all humanity.

  • richardmitnick 12:35 pm on December 22, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Different Diseases Have Distinct Chemical Signatures, , Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, You Are What You Exhale   

    From Technion: “You Are What You Exhale” 

    Technion bloc


    No writer credit

    Different Diseases Have Distinct Chemical Signatures.

    An international team of 56 researchers in five countries has confirmed a hypothesis first proposed by the ancient Greeks – that different diseases are characterized by different “chemical signatures” identifiable in breath samples. The findings by the team led by Professor Hossam Haick of the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology Department of Chemical Engineering and Russell Berrie Nanotechnology Institute at the Technion were published today in ACS Nano.

    Professor Hossam Haick of the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology Department of Chemical Engineering

    Diagnostic techniques based on breath samples have been demonstrated in the past, but until now, there has not been scientific proof of the hypothesis that different and unrelated diseases are characterized by distinct chemical breath signatures. And technologies developed to date for this type of diagnosis have been limited to detecting a small number of clinical disorders, without differentiation between unrelated diseases.

    The study of more than 1,400 patients included 17 different and unrelated diseases: lung cancer, colorectal cancer, head and neck cancer, ovarian cancer, bladder cancer, prostate cancer, kidney cancer, stomach cancer, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, irritable bowel syndrome, Parkinson’s disease (two types), multiple sclerosis, pulmonary hypertension, preeclampsia and chronic kidney disease. Samples were collected between January 2011 and June 2014 from in 14 departments at 9 medical centers in 5 countries: Israel, France, the USA, Latvia and China.

    The researchers tested the chemical composition of the breath samples using an accepted analytical method (mass spectrometry), which enabled accurate quantitative detection of the chemical compounds they contained. 13 chemical components were identified, in different compositions, in all 17 of the diseases.

    Diagram: A schematic view of the study. Two breath samples were taken from each subject, one was sent for chemical mapping using mass spectrometry, and the other was analyzed in the new system, which produced a clinical diagnosis based on the chemical fingerprint of the breath sample.

    According to Prof. Haick, “each of these diseases is characterized by a unique fingerprint, meaning a different composition of these 13 chemical components. Just as each of us has a unique fingerprint that distinguishes us from others, each disease has a chemical signature that distinguishes it from other diseases and from a normal state of health. These odor signatures are what enables us to identify the diseases using the technology that we developed.”

    With a new technology called “artificially intelligent nanoarray,” developed by Prof. Haick, the researchers were able to corroborate the clinical efficacy of the diagnostic technology. The array enables fast and inexpensive diagnosis and classification of diseases, based on “smelling” the patient’s breath, and using artificial intelligence to analyze the data obtained from the sensors. Some of the sensors are based on layers of gold nanoscale particles and others contain a random network of carbon nanotubes coated with an organic layer for sensing and identification purposes.

    The study also assessed the efficiency of the artificially intelligent nanoarray in detecting and classifying various diseases using breath signatures. To verify the reliability of the system, the team also examined the effect of various factors (such as gender, age, smoking habits and geographic location) on the sample composition, and found their effect to be negligible, and without impairment on the array’s sensitivity.

    “Each of the sensors responds to a wide range of exhalation components,” explain Prof. Haick and his previous Ph.D student, Dr. Morad Nakhleh, “and integration of the information provides detailed data about the unique breath signatures characteristic of the various diseases. Our system has detected and classified various diseases with an average accuracy of 86%.

    This is a new and promising direction for diagnosis and classification of diseases, which is characterized not only by considerable accuracy but also by low cost, low electricity consumption, miniaturization, comfort and the possibility of repeating the test easily.”

    “Breath is an excellent raw material for diagnosis,” said Prof. Haick. “It is available without the need for invasive and unpleasant procedures, it’s not dangerous, and you can sample it again and again if necessary.”

    Prof. Haick, full professor at Technion and head of three major European consortia, has received numerous prestigious awards and grants, including the Marie Curie Excellence Award, the European Research Council grant, grants from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Hershel Rich Technion Innovation Award and the Humboldt Senior Research Award (Germany). He has been included in several important lists, including the list of the world’s 35 leading young scientists published by MIT’s Technology Review, the Nominet Trust 100 list (London), which includes the world’s 100 most influential inventors and digital developments, and the Los Angeles-based GOOD Magazine’s list of the 100 most influential people in the world. Prof. Haick also received the highest teaching award granted by the Technion – the Yanai Prize for Academic Excellence.

    See the full article here .

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    Technion Campus

    A science and technology research university, among the world’s top ten,
    dedicated to the creation of knowledge and the development of human capital and leadership,
    for the advancement of the State of Israel and all humanity.

  • richardmitnick 11:59 am on December 18, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , At Israel’s MIT education not affirmative action triples Arab enrollment, , Technion-Israel Institute of Technology   

    From Technion via Start-Up Israel: “At Israel’s MIT, education, not affirmative action, triples Arab enrollment” 

    Technion bloc



    December 16, 2016
    Dov Lieber

    Technion offers hopefuls a 10-month ‘boot camp’ in math, physics, English and Hebrew, funded by Jewish philanthropy.

    Technion President Prof. Peretz Lavie (Credit Nitzan Zohar: Office of the Spokesperson, Technion)

    Israel’s top technological university has seen the size of its Arab student body triple over the last decade. This growth spurt, according to the president of the Technion, has nothing to do with affirmative action — which is nonexistent at the university — and everything to do with closing educational gaps.

    While Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics said Arabs made up 20.7 percent of Israel’s 8.412 million citizens in 2015, Haaretz newspaper cites the Council for Higher Education as saying that the ratio of Arab students in higher education has only grown modestly over the past five years — from 9.3% to 13.2%.

    The great exception to this is the Technion — Israel Institute of Technology, the highly regarded university sometimes [unnecessarily] referred to as “the MIT of Israel,” where currently 20% of students are Arab.

    Prof. Peretz Lavie, the president of the Technion, told The Times of Israel that his university’s achievement is the result of a rigorous program preparing students to meet admissions requirements before they apply. It is, he said, also a total rejection of affirmative action, a policy that usually provides eased admission standards for historically disadvantaged populations.

    Twelve years ago, when just 7% of students in the Technion were Arab, the university began its NAM program, a Hebrew acronym that translates roughly as Outstanding Arab Youth. The program, which is paid for by Jewish philanthropy, begins with an all-expenses-paid 10-month “boot camp” in mathematics, physics, English and Hebrew.

    Israeli business man and philanthropist Eitan Wertheimer is the founder and primary supporter of the program, which to date has seen 300 participants.

    Participants in the program receive full funding for tuition fees, a living stipend of NIS 800 ($210) a month and a free laptop. Spared of a financial burden, the students can focus on their studies.

    After the camp, its participants — who are accepted to the program based on their good performance in high school — are ready to apply to the Technion at the same academic standard as every other candidate.

    During a recent Knesset discussion, Jewish Home MK Betzalel Smotrich charged that “Arab students are getting into the Technion because they’re lowering the minimum requirements due to affirmative action.”

    Lavie vehemently rejected this claim. “There is no affirmative action at all in the Technion. Not for any group, and not in any of the faculties,” he said.

    The NAM program has not only succeeded in pushing students through the admissions process, but has dramatically decreased dropout rates.

    When the program began 12 years ago, the dropout rate among first year Arab students at the Technion was 75%. Currently, according to Lavie, that rate has plummeted to 15%, a figure very close to that of the Jewish student body.

    Access mp4 video here .

    During their studies, NAM participants are assigned a mentor, and discussion groups help students adapt to the new academic environment and any emotional problems that may arise.

    “It’s their first time leaving the house,” said Lavie, pointing out that Arab students are usually 3-4 years younger than their Jewish peers because they likely didn’t serve in the military.

    “Emotional adaptation is as important as academic adaptation,” Lavie stressed.

    In a positive sign for the economic potential of the Arab community — where employment rates are low partly because a majority of women do not work — Lavie pointed out that 61% of the 527 Arab students in the incoming class is female.

    “I don’t think there is any parallel for this among any other university, even among the Jewish population. The number of students in the Technion university-wide is about 37% women and 63% men,” he said.

    Lavie believes female Arab students outnumber their male counterparts at his university due to their desire for “social mobility.” This, he said, is “no doubt dependent on education.”

    “For many Arab kids, education like a Technion degree is a pathway to finding a proper job in Israel,” he said.

    The average salary among Israel’s Arabs is less than half that of the average pay for Jews, according to 2015 CBS statistics. And with unemployment among working-age Arabs at close to 50%, breaking into Israel’s booming high-tech industry could be a way to end the cycle of poverty.

    A survey of 1,500 recent Arab graduates of the Technion found that nearly all of them landed jobs in their first year after graduation. Of that number, 20% were employed at international high-tech companies.

    In October, Haaretz accused the Technion of “squeezing out” Arab students after raising the required score on the Hebrew proficiency exam from 105 to 113. The highest score on the exam is 150, while the average is 92, Haaretz reported.

    But Lavie argued the new requirement was a measure of tough love, and said the paper missed the mark in its reporting.

    “Haaretz was vicious and so off-course. We realized that Hebrew is a key to the success of freshman students in the Technion and that the number of dropouts during the first year is dependent on Hebrew proficiency,” he said.

    He said the decision on the score was made after two years of deliberation, and will only come into effect next year, giving prospective students a chance to prepare for the new, more rigorous standard.

    Professor Hossam Haick talks to a researcher in his lab at Technion University in Haifa, Israel, February 14, 2016. (AP Photo/Dusan Vranic)

    Yet while the number of Arab students at the Technion has skyrocketed in recent years, those choosing to go onto graduate programs has not grown proportionally. This is a fact of life, Lavie said.

    Many Arab students need to support themselves and their families as soon as possible, he said, so adding on extra years for graduate and post-graduate studies is not an option. But like enrollment, this is an issue currently under the school’s microscope.

    “We are now trying to increase the number of graduate, PhD and post-doc students in order to increase the number of Arab faculty members,” Lavie said.

    “This is the next challenge. We have Arab faculty members, but not enough.”

    See the full article here .

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    Technion Campus

    A science and technology research university, among the world’s top ten,
    dedicated to the creation of knowledge and the development of human capital and leadership,
    for the advancement of the State of Israel and all humanity.

  • richardmitnick 3:35 pm on December 6, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Technion-Israel Institute of Technology   

    From Technion via Futurism: “Scientists Have Created a Totally New Type of Laser With Light and Water Waves” 

    Technion bloc




    Dom Galeon

    In Brief

    Using a device smaller than the width of a human hair, scientists have produced laser radiation through the interaction of light and water waves, a first in the field of laser tech.
    This new type of laser could be used on tiny ‘lab-on-a-chip’ technologies, enabling researchers to more effectively study microscopic cells and test different drug therapies.

    Of Waves and Lightwaves

    There’s a new kid in town with respect to laser technology. Researchers at the Technion–Israel Institute of Technology have developed laser emissions through the interaction of light and water waves, combining two areas of study previously thought unrelated.

    Typically, lasers are produced by exciting electrons in atoms using energy from an outside source. This excitement causes the electrons to emit radiation as laser light. The Technion team, led by Tal Carmon, discovered that wave oscillations in a liquid device can produce laser radiation as well, according to the study published in Nature Photonics.

    This possibility had never been explored previously, Carmon told Phys.org, primarily due to enormous differences in frequencies between water waves on a liquid’s surface and light wave oscillations. The former have a low frequency of approximately 1,000 oscillations per second, while the latter have a higher frequency of around 1014 oscillations per second.

    The researchers built a device that used an optical fiber to deliver light into a small droplet of octane and water. It compensated for the otherwise low efficiency between light waves and water waves, allowing the two types to pass through each other approximately 1 million times within the droplet. The energy generated by this interaction leaves the droplet as the laser emission.

    Credits: The Technion-Israel Institute of Technology

    Greater Control

    This interaction between light and fluid happens on a scale smaller than the width of a human hair. Additionally, water is a million times softer than typical materials used in existing laser technology. Accordingly, the Technion researchers say the droplet deformation caused by this very small pressure from the the light is a million times greater than what’s seen in current optomechanical devices, so this laser tech would be easier to control.

    Because they would work on such a small scale and be easier to control, this new type of laser could open up a wealth of possibilities for tiny sensors that use a combination of light waves, water waves, and sound waves. They could be used on tiny ‘lab-on-a-chip’ technologies, enabling researchers to more effectively study microscopic cells and test different drug therapies that could lead to better healthcare down the road. Indeed, these tiny lasers could have big implications in the world of technology.

    See the full article here .

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    Technion Campus

    A science and technology research university, among the world’s top ten,
    dedicated to the creation of knowledge and the development of human capital and leadership,
    for the advancement of the State of Israel and all humanity.

  • richardmitnick 2:43 pm on December 5, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Chemotherapy can cause metastasis, , Prof. Yuval Shaked, Technion-Israel Institute of Technology   

    From Technion via Globes: “Research: Chemotherapy can cause metastasis” 

    Technion bloc




    5 Dec, 2016
    Gali Weinreb

    Prof. Yuval Shaked

    New research at Israel’s Technion alarmingly reveals that the body acts to assist the tumor because it wrongly identifies chemotherapy as damaging.

    New research at Israel’s Technion alarmingly reveals that the body acts to assist the tumor because it wrongly identifies chemotherapy as damaging.

    As if the pressure caused by chemotherapy treatment was not enough, the results of the research conducted by Prof. Yuval Shaked may provide a new cause for alarm: in a series of research studies on animals, human cancer tumor cultures and indirectly also on cancer patients themselves, Shaked and his team found that while chemotherapy destroys the tumor, it encourages the development of metastasis tumors. This takes place since the body identifies chemotherapy as an attack on the body itself and mobilizes all systems for the least desirable cause – saving the tumor. At the same time, Shaked, a researcher at the new Technion Integrative Cancer Research Center, is quick to clarify: “Our research studies do not imply that chemotherapy treatments should be stopped. Chemotherapy still does more good than harm.”

    What does this series of research studies say? It identifies a real need to find a new solution, in which chemotherapy is applied in a way that reduces the damage caused as much as possible, while preserving its benefits. And Shaked also has some relevant ideas, presented in his research.

    “This series of research studies began years ago. It has been known and evident for years that cancer tumors become resistant to chemotherapy and turn ever more aggressive over time, but estimates had been that this entire development takes place inside the cancer cells themselves, the cells that remained in the body despite the damage of chemotherapy,” Shaked explains. “Following our research, it appears that the reality is somewhat more complex. It seems that resistance is developed not only by tumor cells, but by the patient’s entire body. Resistance to the treatment is directed by the body.”

    When the tumor sustains damage, body systems wrongly identify it as undesired damage to the body and act to assist the tumor. And there is even worse news: “This is true not only for chemotherapy, but for any intervention aimed at damaging the tumor. Once the tumor is harmed, the body tries to help,” Shaked says.

    The mechanisms to treat this damage do not only cause renewed multiplication in cancer tumor cells, after chemotherapy has caused it to shrink, they also turn it more violent and aggressive and encourage the formation of metastasis tumors. Animal trials have shown that even if there are no tumors, the provision of chemotherapy or anticancer drugs that kill cells activate damage treatment mechanisms that could stir cancerous processes in a mouse, if they already existed.

    In order to further support their conclusion, Shaked and his team conducted a third test in which they first treated healthy mice with an anticancer drug (not chemotherapy, but a new generation drug) such as Velcade, and only later infected the mice with cancer, without treating them. The mice treated with Velcade before infection died earlier than mice that had not been treated.

    So, the resistance of cancer to treatment, the fact that treatment becomes less effective over time, is caused by the body and not the cancer cells themselves.

    “The cancer cell and the tumor probably also have some resistance, but articles have been published saying that this resistance alone does not always explain the tumor returning after the treatment; that is, this cannot happen so rapidly only via evolution and selection of tumor cells, and there is another explanation.”

    After their research on animals, in which Shaked and his team have shown that mice treated with chemotherapy developed more metastasis tumors, with tumors becoming more aggressive, and following the research indicating that treatment alone is harmful to an animal that had no cancer to begin with, further human research studies have been conducted.

    “We took blood samples from a patient before and after chemotherapy treatment and dripped it on cancer cells in a dish. The cells that encountered the blood of a patient who had been treated with chemotherapy turned more aggressive. The blood contained materials that encouraged the development of the main tumor, and probably also of metastasis tumors.”

    Then why continue with chemotherapy anyway?

    “Despite our findings, these are the best treatments available today. The advantages of destroying the tumor using chemotherapy, which extends the patient’s life, at present outweigh the harm caused by bolstered resistance and metastasis tumors. As mentioned, this is true not only for chemotherapy treatment, but for any treatment that damages the tumor and causes it to develop resistance.”

    But what about the test you have presented, in which mice that received Velcade and were infected with cancer had lived for a shorter period than mice only infected with cancer?

    “These were mice that first received Velcade, and only after the body started secreting materials encouraging damage repair, which we already know also encourage metastasis and make the tumor more aggressive – only then were they infected with cancer, without receiving any treatment. If, after infection, we would have continued treating the mouse with Velcade, I believe that it would have still lived longer than the mice that received no treatment.”

    Does this mean that drug treatment should be continued – always and without any reservations?

    “This is not something I can answer in a sweeping manner. Every patient should consult their doctor. In the future, we might be able to predict which patients will develop a strong bodily reaction to the treatment, which will encourage the tumor to a greater extent, and for whom chemotherapy is not advisable, and who will have a weak reaction, turning this into a worthwhile treatment.”

    A cause for optimism

    After Shaked has shown the potential damage (as well as the usefulness) of cancer treatments, he has started examining ways of reducing this damage and turning the treatments more effective.

    In order to do this, you need to first understand how exactly the treatment affects the body.

    “We have estimated that the mechanism also involves the immune system, and therefore conducted another experiment: we took cells from the immune system of an animal and subjected them to chemotherapy. We have discovered that the process does pass through immune system cells. When we returned these immune cells to a mouse that did not undergo the treatment but has cancer, it was as if the mouse himself received the treatment – the increased aggressiveness of the tumor of the mouse that did not undergo the treatment but was injected with cells from the immune system of a mouse that did undergo the treatment resembled that of a mouse that did undergo the treatment.

    “So what is the cause for optimism? The next test: we took immune system cells, exposed them to chemotherapy, but this time with a drug that prevents the learning process that helps repair the damage. This time, when we injected the cells back to a mouse sick with cancer, his condition did not deteriorate.

    “Looking 800 steps ahead, if we could provide a person undergoing chemotherapy with a drug that could prevent his immune system from becoming accustomed to chemotherapy, the body may not develop the response which assists the tumor, and the tumor may not become so resilient or aggressive, which would make chemotherapy significantly more effective. Some of the drugs preventing the immune system from becoming accustomed to chemotherapy already exist and are sometimes given to patients with various illnesses (not necessarily cancer); they can be converted into cancer treatment quite easily.”

    You have mentioned the body’s reaction to chemotherapy can differ between patients.

    “We have so far discovered about 60 different factors in the body which are affected by chemotherapy; their combination affects the tumor and the metastasis reaction. These 60 factors are in fact 60 new targets for anti-cancer drugs, 60 factors that can be affected by drugs to reduce the reaction. There are already drugs on the market that could affect some of these factors. For example, we found an arthritis drug which reduces one of these harmful factors (that is, factors helping the tumor), and we have indeed shown that if it is provided with chemotherapy to mice with cancer, some of them have a longer life expectancy.

    “We could theoretically, create a combination matched to every patient, which depends on which of these 60 factors are affected by chemotherapy for that specific patient. These combinations could reduce pro-cancer reactions and thereby extend the patient’s life.”

    In the search for a cure for cancer, the body’s reaction to the cure is not even examined today, but only the treatment’s efficacy, right?

    “In principle, you are correct, other than one comment – in addition to testing the cure’s effectiveness in shrinking the tumor, the extent to which the drug is toxic to the body and the patient is also tested; but the body’s other reactions, which could eventually help the cancer cells are never examined. The main insight from our research is that the body does dictate the future of the tumor. The result of the treatment follows from the interaction between the treatment itself, the type of the treatment, and the specifics of the patient’s body.”

    One of the findings of Shaked’s research is that not only chemotherapy, but any damage to a cancerous cells creates a pro-cancerous counter-reaction in the body, but he says that there are also exceptions. “There is a certain type of chemotherapy, or more correctly a certain regimen, which we found does not result in a negative reaction in the body,” he says and explains: “At present, when administering chemotherapy, the principle is to bombard the body with the largest dosage of the material that can be administered without killing the patient. This method makes a lot of sense, since it provides for the most probable destruction of the tumor. Therefore, according to the logic that has guided the medical world so far, it verifies that nothing is left of the tumor, thereby reducing the chances of it recurring. However, our research indicates that it is exactly such chemotherapy treatment, a maximum-dosage ‘bombardment’, which creates the body’s counter-reaction that encourages tumor aggressiveness. This is of course not the only problem with high-dosage chemotherapy. It causes numerus side effectives and immense damage to the patient. After completing a high-dosage chemotherapy, the body must be given time to recover, which also gives the tumor time to recover.

    At present, with no relation to our research, they have begun testing a treatment method called metronomic chemotherapy on patients, a ‘continuously-administered’ treatment. The intention is to provide small doses of chemotherapy, but administer them on a daily basis. This dosage results in fewer side effects and enables the patient to continue with his daily life. As a result, the tumor does not shrink much, but also does not grow much, or at least, if it does grow, it does so slowly. A cancerous tumor that lives in the body and does not grow does not damage the patient. Only once it starts growing in a more significant manner does it damage other tissue and consume body resources in ways that are harmful. If a metronomic treatment enables patients to live with the same tumor for a long time, without completely killing it but exerting some control, as done with other chronic diseases, and while maintaining a good quality of life, it might be preferable to bombardment.

    “It is very important to remain cautious when discussing this possibility, since this is still an experimental treatment. It is currently undergoing phase III human trials. So far, the results show that with some patients, already subjected to many other treatments, who have developed resistance to everything and have had no other alternative, life expectancy has been extended using low-dosage chemotherapy treatment. This is a generic drug which is not at expensive.”

    Shaked says that the metronomic method raises concerns among most doctors, since it contradicts everything they have learned about proper chemotherapy, “but for patients with no proper treatment alternatives, this is certainly a possibility that should be examined.”

    Shaked adds that an initial examination run by him and his team raised the possibility that such a treatment, with a small daily dosage, causes the body to react less than a classic chemotherapy regimen, thereby keeping the tumor less aggressive for a longer period. But, for the time being, these are only assumptions. “We are currently running a test aimed at discovering the chemotherapy dosage that does not cause a negative body reaction,” he says.

    “One of the problems with such a treatment is that only a few chemotherapy drugs can be administered orally. A daily infusion is not a viable solution and producing a chemotherapy pump is impossible, which the agent will damage subdermal tissue in the place where the pump is injected. In order to make such a treatment succeed on the market, we will have to develop new chemotherapy formulas, which can be administered orally.

    “This is not necessarily a bad thing; while old-school chemotherapy is no longer patented and therefore drug companies have little motivation to research and develop it, such a drug, with an innovative drug administration mechanism, would be patented, making it more lucrative for drug companies.”

    See the full article here .

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  • richardmitnick 2:23 pm on September 9, 2016 Permalink | Reply
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    From AAAS: “Scientists Build Giant Petri Dish to Film Bacteria Resistance” 



    8 September 2016
    Meagan Phelan

    Researchers have developed a large plate on which to film bacteria as they mutate in the presence of higher and higher concentrations of antibiotics, providing unprecedented insights into the phenomenon of antibiotic resistance.

    “Our device allows us to systematically map the different ways by which bacteria can become resistant to a range of antibiotics and antibiotic combinations,” said co-author Roy Kishony, a professor in the department of systems biology at Harvard Medical School and a principal investigator at Technion-Israel Institute of Technology.

    The ultimate goal, Kishony added, is to develop tools “that can predict the evolution of pathogens under different treatments, and better guide treatment choice.”

    “With our plate device, the evolutionary paths that the bacteria follow to achieve antibiotic resistance appear clearly and visually,” said co-author Michael Baym, a postdoctoral fellow in the Kishony Lab at Harvard Medical School, “and will hopefully let us start tailoring our approaches to treating resistance to different evolutionary modes.”

    The 2-by-4 foot petri dish used by the researchers to grow the bacteria contains nine bands at its base that can support varying concentrations of antibiotic. The results are reported in the 9 September issue of Science.

    Antibiotics have been used to treat patients since the 1940s, greatly reducing illness and death. However, these drugs have been used so frequently that the bacteria they are designed to kill have adapted to them in many cases, making the drugs less effective. At least 2 million people become infected with bacteria resistant to antibiotics each year in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and at least 23,000 of these die as a result.

    “We know quite a bit about the internal defense mechanisms bacteria use to evade antibiotics,” Baym said, “but we don’t really know much about their physical movements across space as they adapt to survive in different environments.”

    To better understand how antibiotic resistance evolves in space and time, Baym and his colleagues developed a device called the microbial evolution growth arena plate, or MEGA-plate. The researchers used the antibiotics trimethoprim and ciprofloxacin in the MEGA plate in concentrations from zero to 10,000 times the original dose.

    On the right side of the plate where antibiotic levels were zero, Baym, Kishony, and colleagues grew Escherichia coli bacteria, which appeared white on the inky black background. Over two weeks, a camera mounted on the ceiling above the plate took periodic snapshots of the bacteria mutating.

    In the band with no antibiotic, the bacteria spread up until the point where they could no longer survive as they mingled with the first traces of antibiotic. Then, a small group of bacteria developed genetic mutations that allowed them to persist.

    Researchers traced the branching patterns of bacterial evolution on the MEGA plate. | Katharine Sutliff/ Science

    As these drug-resistant mutants arose, their descendants migrated to areas of higher and higher antibiotic concentration, developing further mutations to compete with other mutants around them. As they continued their journey to the highest antibiotic concentration level, all remaining bacterial mutants had to evolve further still.

    Through this process of cumulative, successive mutations, the researchers could visualize how bacteria that are normally sensitive to antibiotics can evolve resistance to extremely high concentrations — those up to 100,000-fold higher than the one that killed their predecessors — in just over ten days.

    The bacteria were unable to adapt directly from zero antibiotic to the highest concentrations, for both drugs tested, revealing that exposure to intermediate concentrations of antibiotics is essential for the bacteria to evolve resistance.

    Initial mutations at each new band on the plate led to slower growth, hinting that bacteria adjusting to the antibiotic aren’t able to grow at ideal speed while developing mutations. Once fully resistant, however, such bacteria regained normal growth rates.

    “One of our main objectives in the lab is to reveal such evolutionary tradeoffs,” said Kishony, “whereby a bacterium becoming resistant to a drug confers a cost we might be able to exploit. We might potentially use other drugs to enhance such resistance-associated weakness.”

    Intriguingly, the researchers also found that the location of bacterial species played a role in their success in developing resistance. For example, when the researchers moved the trapped mutants — those behind their fast-moving, fit counterparts — to the “frontlines” of the growing bacteria, they were able to grow into new regions where the frontline bacteria could not.

    “What we saw suggests that evolution is not always led by the most resistant mutants,” said Baym. “The strongest mutants are, in fact, often moving behind more vulnerable strains.”

    This overturns the assumption that mutants that survive the highest concentration of a drug drive the fitness of bacterial populations; rather, it is those mutants that are both sufficiently fit and arise sufficiently close to the advancing front that lead the evolutionary road.

    The work of Baym, Kishony, and colleagues was inspired by Hollywood wizardry, the authors say. Kishony saw a digital billboard advertising the 2011 film Contagion, a grim narrative about a deadly viral pandemic. The marketing tool was built using a giant lab dish to show hordes of painted, glowing microbes creeping slowly across a dark backdrop to spell out the title of the movie.

    “This project was fun and joyful throughout,” Kishony said. “Seeing the bacteria spread for the first time was a thrill. Our MEGA-plate takes complex, often obscure, concepts in evolution, such as mutation selection, lineages, parallel evolution and clonal interference, and provides a visual seeing-is-believing demonstration of these otherwise vague ideas. It’s also a powerful illustration of how easy it is for bacteria to become resistant to antibiotics.”

    See the full article here .

    The American Association for the Advancement of Science is an international non-profit organization dedicated to advancing science for the benefit of all people.

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