After 2000 years of exile, the citizens of the modern State of Israel can be proud of their phenomenal technological achievements in just 67 years. It’s as if the gift of Time itself has been bestowed on the Jewish State for the benefit of humanity.
Israel is at the forefront of the age-old fight against cancer. In 2004 Professor Aaron Ciechanover of Israel’s Technion won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry by identifying the ubiquitin pathway that controls the timing of cell death. 11 years later, scientists working in Professor Ciechanover’s laboratory, have identified the chemicals in the body that suppress malignant growth and protect healthy cells. In another line of research, scientists at Israel’s Weizmann Institute have identified that tumors can be triggered by information-overload at the cell level. They have also found a molecule that can block inter-cell messages, allowing the cell nucleus more time to behave correctly. Meanwhile, up to 20 Nobel Prize laureates are giving up their time this summer, in order to attend the World Science Conference in Jerusalem. The five-day event will be the largest such event of its kind ever to be held, attracting scientists and thinkers from 60 countries.
There is no time like the present for dispelling the long-held view that we cannot reverse the effects of time on our bodies. Now you can rejuvenate your arteries by consuming pomegranate juice and dates together - according to researchers at Israel’s Technion and Haifa’s Rambam Medical Center. And following research by scientists at Israel’s Weizmann Institute, it won’t be too long before heart tissue can be re-grown to replace that damaged by heart disease or heart attack.
Imagine how much medical research and diagnostic time can be saved in the future once Israeli startup Zebra Medical Vision has built up its database of anonymous medical images (X-rays, CT scans and MRI scans). Due to privacy laws, such data was unavailable previously. And surgeons in the USA can now take their time planning hip replacements following FDA approval of the TraumaCad iPhone / iPad mobile app developed by Israeli health-tech firm Voyant. It allows doctors to download a digital image of the patient’s hip, simultaneously with that of the new implant, in order to simulate the operation.
Israel’s success can partly be attributed to the many incubators and accelerators that give hundreds of startup companies time to grow their business. Israel’s Office of the Chief Scientist is opening three new hi-tech incubators in Akko, Haifa and the Golan, each running for 8 years. Then at Israel’s Startup Fusion 2015 on 22nd March, over a dozen startups, (including 3 Japanese and 3 Turkish) competed for a $100,000 seed investment to be provided by Samurai Incubate. And when the time comes for these startups to make the decision whether to sell out to the big multinationals, many have now come to realize that they should stay the course and grow into big Israeli companies.
Over 100 students from 11 European countries found their time well spent when they attended a free 4-day electron microscope workshop at Israel’s Technion. And the engineers supervising the Delphi Automotive “Roadruner” driverless car had plenty of time to relax and enjoy the record-breaking 3,400-mile ride as the Advanced Drive Assistance System from Israel’s Mobileye guided them from San Francisco to Manhattan.
We now come full circle, back to hospital, where Israeli doctors took their time in performing the complex surgery necessary to enable a Syrian boy to walk again after he was severely injured by a shell in Syria’s civil war. During his recovery time during the festival of Passover, the boy even enjoyed the time-honored tradition of eating matza crackers. In contrast, time was of the essence for 27-year-old Ran Azulai, who was born with a serious congenital defect. After 3 previous heart operations, Ran had very little time to live when surgeons replaced his heart and two lungs in a rare, complex last-minute operation. The donor’s other organs extended the lives of three more patients.
There is just time to mention two innovative Israeli medical devices. Israel’s Teva has now received FDA approval for its ProAir RespiClick inhaler for asthmatics. The device is the first of its kind that is breath-activated, which means the user doesn’t need to co-ordinate the timing of his/her breathing with manual activation of the inhaler. The other device is the MD-Logic Artificial Pancreas developed by Israel’s DreaMed Diabetes. DreaMed has struck a deal with Medtronic, the world’s biggest medical device company, to use the algorithm of the Artificial Pancreas in Medtronic’s insulin pumps. The algorithm ensures that the timing of the release of insulin is regulated exactly to the needs of the individual diabetic.
We go into extra time, to visit Jerusalem - Israel’s ancient and modern capital - to relive the time when gazelles grazed in the outskirts of the holy city. On 30 March, Jerusalem’s Mayor Barkat formally opened the Gazelle Valley Nature Park to the public. The 62-acre park cost NIS 90 million and is Israel’s first urban nature reserve. It even contains a female gazelle from the original wild herd that lived in the area, plus others from zoos and their offspring.
Finally, there is a new opportunity for world leaders to understand and appreciate the bond linking the Jewish people to the Land of Israel from time immemorial. The exhibit entitled “People, Book, Land – The 3,500 Year Relationship of the Jewish People and the Land of Israel” has just opened at the headquarters of the United Nations in New York. The words of that timeless folk song are: “When will they ever learn? When will they ever learn?” Perhaps the answer is:
Michael Ordman writes a free weekly newsletter containing positive news stories about Israel.
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