Centre of Excellence for Research on Environment, Health and Aging


Newsletter No. 1 April 2013

22 April, 2013

A Newsletter of the
Centre of Excellence for Research on
Environment, Health and Aging
April 2013


Mr Zvika Rubinstein, CEO of MIGAL, passed away

Zvika Rubinstein unexpectedly passed away on April 22th at the age of 64. CEO of MIGAL for the past three years, he led the institute into a period of sweeping growth and new directions. MIGAL staff joins the Rubinstein family in mourning his untimely loss.



The CEREHA Kick-off Event

On 27-29 November 2012, the CEREHA project was inaugurated with a special event for associated researchers from MIGAL and the project’s partner institutions. The event, which took place at MIGAL, included an opening reception, a scientific conference dealing with health, environment and aging, and a formal meeting of MIGAL researchers and the visitors from the partner institutions, with discussions regarding the work plans and possible collaborations.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012
The meeting started with a reception at the biosphere at Agamon Lake where the visitors met researchers from MIGAL, and continued to a mixer at Hagoshrim Hotel. Participants had the opportunity to get acquainted and begin discussing possible collaborations.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

The CEREHA program was launched with a scientific conference on Environment, Health and Aging. Over 120 people registered from research institutes, hospitals, social workers from the Galilee as well as from other parts of Israel.
The conference was opened by the Mayor of the Upper Galilee Regional Council, Mr Aharon Valency who emphasised the importance of CEREHA and MIGAL for the Galilee region. MIGAL's CEO, Mr Zvika Rubinstein greeted the audience and Mr Marcel Shaton, head of ISERD, represented the government and explained how the FP7 REGPOT programme could be implemented in the Galilee. Prof Uri Marchaim, coordinator of the CEREHA project, outlined its objectives and expected results. Prof. Eliora Z. Ron, MIGAL’s Scientific Director, discussed the planning of scientific collaborations between MIGAL and the partner institutes. Mr Greg Ambroziewicz, EU Project Officer responsible for the CEREHA project, talked about the FP7 setup for REGPOT and the Horizon 2020 programme.

The conference’s scientific program included three sessions:
1. Combating Diseases of the Third Age

  • Prof Ruth Arnon, President of the Israeli Academy of Science: Copaxon - development and state of the art.
  • Dr Maria-Grazia Pizza, Novartis Vaccine: Novel vaccines targeting all age groups.
  • Prof Lene Rassmusen, Managing Director, Centre for Healthy Aging, University of Copenhagen: Impact of mitochondrial function on genomic stability.
  • Prof Tone Tonjum, Oslo University Medical School: DNA damage, repair and age-related diseases.
  • Prof Doerte Becher, Greifswald University: Proteomics of human pathogens.

2. Improving our Environment

  • Dr Win Chardon, Alterra-Wageningen UR.
  • Prof Iggy Litaor, MIGAL, on environmental aspects of aging in the Galilee.

3. Towards translational science

  • Dr Maayan Gal and Mr Itai Bloch: Novel technologies in search of novel drugs.
  • Dr Chen Katz: Ages and aging.
  • Prof Rachel Amir: Natural anti-oxidants.
  • Prof Snait Tamir: Nutrition and aging.

The conference ended with a talk by Prof Ehud Gazit, Chief Scientist, Ministry of Science, on Novel avenues for combating age-related protein aggregative diseases.
All of the PowerPoint presentations from the conference will be available on MIGAL's website.

Thursday, 29 November 2012
The third day was devoted to an internal Board Meeting of CEREHA with the MIGAL researchers and delegates from the EU universities. Mr Greg Ambroziewicz, the EU Project Officer, opened the meeting with a talk on “Project management in FP7”. He emphasised that, although CEREHA is a "mono beneficiary project" all partners are considered to be a consortium and should work together. This was followed by a discussion of the CEREHA layout and work packages. The meeting ended with a tour of MIGAL's facilities and several laboratory visits.

New researchers recruited to MIGAL as part of the CEREHA Project

Two researchers have already been recruited to MIGAL as part of the call published in Nature Jobs in Science, in November 2012. Dr. Dror Noy is a biochemist working on systems biology of hydrogen production. Dr Maayan Gal is an NMR chemist who came to MIGAL with his collaborator Itai Bloch, a computational chemist. Together they were recruited to the new program of "Researcher-Entrepreneur" aimed at supporting high level translational research. Maayan and Itai are using computational chemistry coupled with NMR to achieve new methods toward the development of new drugs. Relying on their unique technology, they have already established in the short time of their activity several collaborations with industry and academy indicating the potential applicability of this technological platform.

Visit by MIGAL researcher to Alterra-Wageningen

In February 2013, Prof Iggy Litaor of MIGAL, an expert in environmental sciences, visited the Alterra-Wageningen Institute in Wageningen, the Netherlands. There he met with Dr Wim Chardon, Dr Groenenberg, Dr Martin Knotters and Dr Joust Lahr, and discussed various potential collaborative projects between MIGAL and WUR scientists.
Among the projects discussed was a potential collaboration between Prof Rytwo of MIGAL and Dr Groenenberg on issues related to environmental physical chemistry. They also discussed the issue of Al-sol and the potential for making this refuse material available for soil remediation in the Netherlands. During the meetings, the researchers agreed on a joint research effort in the coming year that includes support for analysing a huge data set of hydrochemical parameters collected over 40 years in 7 hydrometric stations along the Jordan River. This analysis should provide insight into the movement and behaviour of pollutants, and the impact of human activity, on this most important watershed, which provides up to 25% of Israel’s potable water.
Additional visits are planned to Novartis, Italy and to the University of Copenhagen.

Lecture by Prof Adelman of Wayne State University and Washington State University

Prof. Martin Adelman paid a special visit to MIGAL on March 17, 2013, to present a lecture entitled: "The US debate over the patenting of human genes", which attracted over 60 people from the Galilee. His talk concentrated on the legal disputes involving patenting of human genes, mainly the BRCA gene that is correlated with breast cancer.

MIGAL Research Day to Promote Collaboration among Galilee Scientists

Over 85 researchers from MIGAL and Tel-Hai Academic College, physicians from hospitals throughout the Galilee, and researchers from industries across the Galilee, participated in a one-day conference where the latest developments in research at MIGAL were presented. The conference, which took place on February 12, 2013 at Kibbutz Kfar-Blum, was intended to expose local scientists to the fields of research at MIGAL, and provide a forum for exploring potential collaborations. The conference was opened by Prof Eliora Ron of MIGAL, and in the following sessions, MIGAL researchers gave short presentations on their latest results:
Chemistry and chemistry-oriented research, chaired by Dr Peter Assaf
Bacterial aspects research, chaired by Maayan Gal
Genetic aspects and biomolecular research, chaired by Dr Yaron Dekel
Ecological and enzymatic research, chaired by Itay Bloch.
A closing lecture, by Prof Jacob Pitcovski.

Meetings with Israeli institutions involved in research on the 3rd Age

In an effort to strengthen the cooperation between MIGAL and other institutes working in the field of aging, meetings were held between Prof Uri Marchaim, CEREHA project coordinator, and Prof Ariela Levenstein, President of Emek Yizrael College, Ms Idit Hemel from the College, and Prof Shira Hantman of Tel Hai Academic College. As a result of these meetings we are now examining possible collaborations and the option of organizing a joint workshop on Economic Aspects of Aging with Prof Alfonso Sosa Poza from the Hohenheim University in Stuttgart.

Report on CEREHA in the Copenhagen University Newsletter

Professor Lene Juel Rasmussen, Managing Director at the Centre for Healthy Aging (CEHA), who participated in the CEREHA Kick-Off event, published in the CEHA newsletter the following information:
"In order to further strengthen relations to aging research centres, CEHA also has become partner with a newly EU funded Israeli Centre of Excellence for Research on Environment, Health and Aging (CEREHA). This centre is the most important research initiative of the Galilee region in Northern Israel." (p 69)

Galilee Biomedical Conference to Focus on Health Issues Related to Aging

For the past three years Migal has been hosting the Galilee Biomedical Conference, a joint initiative of Migal, the Galilee Hospitals, the newly established Bar-Ilan School of Medicine in Safed and regional colleges. The conference has become a major event for presenting cutting-edge research in basic, clinical, epidemiologic and behavioral science conducted by scientists and clinicians in the Galilee. It attracts participants from all over Israel as well as from other countries, and provides conference attendees with the opportunity to share knowledge, hold lively discussions and forge new scientific collaborations. These meetings have a significant contribution to the advancement of science and medicine in the region, and are the basis for improving community medical services.

This year, following the establishment of the Center of Excellence for Research on Environment, Health and Aging (CEREHA), the fourth biomedical conference will focus on health issues related to aging. Main topics of the conference include:

  • Oncology
  • Age-related metabolic diseases
  • Age-related degenerative diseases
  • Diseases of the elderly

The conference will be held on October 8-9, 2013 at Tel Hai Academic College.
Professor Nir Barzilai, who is the director of the Institute for Aging Research at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and a world leading expert in the genetics of aging, and David Sengstock, MD MS, Program Director, Fellowship in Geriatric Medicine Oakwood Healthcare System Assistant Professor - Wayne State University, will be among the keynotes speakers.