Centre of Excellence for Research on Environment, Health and Aging


Newsletter No. 4 Oct 2015

8 October, 2015

A Newsletter of the

Centre of Excellence for Research on

Environment, Health and Aging 



Newsletter No. 4


New researchers recruited to the CEREHA project 

MIGAL is excited to welcome a new researcher who has been recruited to MIGAL in 2015, as part of the CEREHA project:

Dr Itai Sharon, a newly recruited Researcher/Entrepreneur

Dr Itai Sharon received his PhD in Computer Science from the Technion, IL and completed his post-doctoral training in Berkley. He is working on bioinformatics analyses of microbiomes – consortia of bacteria that exist in many environments, such as soil or the human gut. His in-depth metagenomics analyses are highly interesting for microbiologists, clinicians, the food industry, agriculture and ecology. Dr Sharon was recruited as part of the CEREHA programme and his entrepreneurship will be supported by the Russell Berrie Foundation programme of Researchers/Entrepreneurs jointly with Tel-Hai College, where he will undertake teaching in Computer Sciences.

MIGAL is organizing international workshops in CEREHA’s partner institutions

MIGAL will hold two international workshops inWageningen University, the Netherlands and the University of Greifswald, Germany. The aim of these events is to advance scientific cooperation and collaborative research projects.

Workshop in Wageningen – the Netherlands, 9-11 September 2015 - The event was organized by MIGAL in cooperation with the University of Wageningen and included about 50 participants from leading universities, research institutes and companies in Israel, the Netherlands, Spain, UK, Serbia and Belgium. The workshop included presentations and roundtable discussions that focused on precision agriculture, production of active ingredients from plants, advanced food technology, sophisticated irrigation and wastewater treatment. MIGAL’s researchers also visited the relevant laboratories in the University and had the opportunity to meet their counterparts and discuss mutual scientific interests. These secondments resulted in several proposals for research projects that will be submitted as part of the Horizon 2020 programme.

Workshop in the University of Greifswald – Germany, 4-5 November 2015: The workshop is organized by MIGAL in collaboration with the German Leopoldina institute and Alfried Krupp Wissenschaftskolleg Greifswald. It will include participants from leading German and Israeli universities and research institutes. The purpose is to promote international cooperation and joint research proposals in the framework of the Horizon2020 programme and binational funds. The workshop will focus on renewable energy, search for new drugs and vaccines, Functional genomics of pathogenic bacteria and of the host during bacterial infection and Biosynthesis and metabolomics.

Final Conference of the CEREHA project

The conference will be held in Brussels on 26 November 2015 and will include participants from the European Commission, leading universities, research institutions and companies in Israel and Europe (Belgium, Denmark, Germany, etc.), Water and biotechnology clusters in Belgium and other stakeholders. The purpose of the event is to present the research performed under the CEREHA project and promote international scientific cooperation. The sessions will highlight the collaborations, achievements and key research that was done as part of the CEREHA project. Following the presentations of MIGAL’s researchers, Prof Lene Juel Rasmussen from the University of Copenhagen will present the Center for Healthy Aging which operated is the University. The afternoon session will include a discussion with experts from the EU, project representatives and selected stakeholders concerning the CEREHA’s sustainability paths.

Visit of the Israeli Minister of Agriculture in MIGAL

In August 2015, the new Israeli Minister of Agriculture, Mr Uri Ariel, and his staff visited MIGAL. The delegation visited MIGAL’s Northern R&D extension farms and the new laboratories at the Tel-Hai industrial park, where several of CEREHA’s researchers presented their scientific work and achievements. The visit was very successful and fruitful.


Visit of the Minister of Science, Technology  and Space

In August 2015, the new Minister of Science, Technology and Space, Mr Danny Danon, and his staff visited MIGAL, and were very impressed by the new laboratories at the Tel-Hai Industrial Park. The distinguished guests held a discussion with the CEREHA investigators regarding their research and scientific achievements. The visit was successful and followed by discussions on how to contribute to the CEREHA sustainability.


Publication of the Town Square Academia initiative in “The Guardian”

In September 2015, “The Gordian” has published an item about the Town Square Academia project, aimed at rendering academic-level courses accessible to the general public in the Upper Galilee region. Funded by Tel Hai College, MIGAL and Canada-Israel Partnership (CIP), Town Square Academia puts on ten courses a year, taking place in cafes, community centers and factories. The courses often have two experts, one academic and one non-academic. The main idea is to take education out of the classroom and onto the streets and creates a real bridge between academia and community, with learning taking place in both directions.

Mentoring young researchers from the Galilee

Dr Itamar Yadid, Head of the Microbial Metabolic Pathways Research Laboratory in MIGAL and one of the CEREHA researchers is mentoring a group of young students from a nearby high school who are developing a Gluten detection kit. He is mentoring them at the new Tel-Hai laboratories and assisting them in the preparation to a prestigious science contest that will be held in Boston, USA. This activity supports the regional development of the Galilee and in this respect the CEREHA project impacts also the young population in the area.


Collaboration with Industries

MIGAL’s collaboration with industries is constantly advancing as part of MIGAL’s focus on applied research: *MIGAL signed a license agreement with ICL Haifa for the use of MIGAL’s proprietary technology related to wastewater treatment. Under the terms of the agreement ICL Haifa will have the right to develop, manufacture and sell reagents developed by MIGAL to treat wastewater. The agreement between the parties follows the successful completion of a year-long pilot program conducted by Prof. Giora Rytwo from MIGAL in conjunction with ICL’s open innovation arm, ICL Innovation Ltd., to develop a method and unique component to help lower pollution levels of wastewater so that the water may be reused for irrigation. *Mérieux NutriSciences expands into Israel with the acquisition of Milouda & Migal Laboratories. Mérieux NutriSciences delivers a wide range of testing and consulting services to the food & nutrition, agrochemicals, pharma and cosmetics industries. It has about 50 years of experience in the food testing sector, operating over 80 laboratories in 20 countries. The presence of Mérieux NutriSciences at MIGAL’s facility in Kiryat Shmona is an important phase towards the establishment of the Agro-Biomedical Center specialized in science-based advanced nutrition. Mérieux NutriSciences is promoting applied research and has experience in food safety regulation, which is synergistic to MIGAL’s activities and plans.

Grants and Awards received by MIGAL’s researchers

MIGAL’s researchers (including CEREHA’s recruited researchers) were successful in receiving a large number of grants and awards during the past two years, following their scientific excellence and prolific international collaborations. This will greatly contribute to the sustainability and impact of the CEREHA project. The grants and awards were received under the framework of the German-Israeli Foundation (GIF); Israeli Science Foundation (ISF); US-Israel Binational Agricultural Research and Development fund (BARD); KAMIN (Ministry of Trade and Industry); Ministry of Agriculture; BIRAX (the Britain Israel Research and Academic Exchange Partnership); Ministry of Health; Ministry of National Infrastructures, Energy and Water Resources and the Israel Cancer Research Fund (ICRF). In the last couple of months, MIGAL researchers invested a lot of efforts in submitting innovative proposals in the framework of the Horizon2020 programme and the results are expected to be published in November 2015.

Upgrading MIGAL’s laboratories

As part of the CEREHA project, MIGAL has finalized a 1.5 million EUR purchase of scientific equipment and infrastructure which will significantly upgrade the institute’s research level. The equipment will enable the CEREHA newly recruited researchers as well as other researchers in MIGAL to perform research in high international standards. The equipment that was purchase includes: Fermentation systems, chromatography equipment, robust Linux Workstations and servers, centrifuges, Real Time PCRs, Freeze dry lyophilization systems, Shaker incubators, etc. 


Secondments of CEREHA researchers

Dr Alon Margalit visited Wayne University, USA on September 2015. He visited Prof. Ken Honn's lab and learned about the role of sphingosine-1 phosphate in cancer and inflammation. During his visit, Dr Margalit also gained experience in various methods including LC MS and sample preparation procedures and the chromatographic method called supercritical fluid mass spectrometry.

Dr Maayan Gal and Dr Yael Pazy Benhar visited the Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics center in Siena, Italy as guests of Dr Mariagrazia Pizza with whom they discussed issues concerning Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) spectroscopy and planning of new protein structures and drugs.

Conference on Microbiology 2015-Health & Environment

Over 50 people participated in this international conference, which was held on March 29-31, 2015 in the "Hagoshrim Hotel", Upper Galilee. The event was supported by the CEREHA project, Leopoldina German National Academy of Sciences and FEMS (Federation of European Microbiological Societies). The Opening statements were given by Mr Avishai Levy- MIGAL’s CEO, Dr Yossi Kalifa from the Ministry of Science, Technology and Space, Prof Joerg Hacker, Leopoldina-German National Academy of Science and Prof Eliora Ron and Prof Uri Marchaim from MIGAL. The conference focused on several topics, including Host Bacterial Interaction, Micro and Macrobioms, Novel approaches to vaccine development, DNA repair and replication and Microbial systems (physiology, metabolism, functional genomics). The event gathered researchers from leading Israeli, European and American research institute and universities and was very fruitful and successful.

CEREHA SAC Meeting in the Galilee

The Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC) Meeting was held on 29 March 2015 in Kibbutz Hagoshrim, Upper Galilee. The meeting included presentation of the activities and achievements of the CEREHA project (recruitment of new researchers and post-docs, receiving competitive grants, fruitful collaboration with the associated universities, and tight contacts with industries and hospitals through the Galilee Biomedical research Administration). Other issues which were discussed are the means to ensure the sustainability of the CEREHA Project and the Agro-Biomedical focus for a Centre of Excellence - that is being seen as a unique concept for CEREHA and its association with MIGAL, the Galilee Biomedical Administration and Tel Hai College.

Workshop for MIGAL’s Researchers and ICT industries

The workshop was held on 16th April 2015 with the aim to promote collaboration between MIGAL’s researchers and companies dealing with ICT applications in the Galilee. Since today many innovative research initiatives require a linkage between scientific topics and ICT, the workshop was organized in order to reveal the various opportunities for collaboration and for designing new projects. The event was very successful and led to several collaborative research initiatives. This fruitful collaboration will further advance the scientific work that is being performed in the CEREHA project.

Agritech Exhibition

The Agritech Exhibition, one of the world’s most important exhibitions in the field of agricultural technologies, was held on 28 – 30 April 2015 at the Israel Trade Fairs and Convention Center in Tel-Aviv. MIGAL’s researchers and staff presented the research activities performed in MIGAL and the CEREHA-related achievements in MIGAL’s booth. Dissemination and promotion materials were distributed and many people from Israel and abroad have showed interest in the research activities in MIGAL.

International Conference on Tetrapyrrole Photoreceptors of Photosynthetic Organisms

The Conference on Tetrapyrrole Photoreceptors of Photosynthetic Organisms (ICTPPO) has been held every two years since 1991 in different locales around the world, and will be held in Israel in the Upper Galilee on 11-15 October 2015. Tetrapyrroles are strongly pigmented molecules that play key roles in the harvesting of light and its efficient conversion into chemical energy by photosynthetic organisms, as well as in sensory machineries that enable photosynthetic organisms to perceive and respond to their environment. ICTPPO 2015 will provide a unique niche and communication hub to a diverse community of researchers from many fields sharing a strong interest in tetrapyrroles. The meeting will bring together leading experts, young researchers and students from around the world. It will offer exposure to cutting edge research and recent discoveries as well as the chance to engage in critical discussions on the state of the art, future challenges and opportunities in research of tetrapyrroles, their roles and metabolism in photosynthetic organisms.”

WATEC Conference

On 13-15 October 2015, the 8th International Exhibition and the 5th Conference on Water Technologies and Environmental Control will be held in Tel-Aviv. As part of this event, MIGAL organizes the Info-day on “Bringing Israel's Water Innovation to the EU”, together with ISERED, the Israel-Europe R&D Directorate and MEKOROT. This event will include presentations of Dr Prista Luisa, Head of Eco-Innovation Unitin DG RTD in the European Commission that will present opportunities for water innovation in H2020 and Mr Durk Krol, Director of The European water platform (WssTP) that will discuss the role and perspective of the industry-led European Technology Platform on Water. The event will also include round-table discussions with the participation of water experts from Israel and abroad that will discuss and promote collaborative research projects.

The 5th Bio-Medicine Conference

On 7 October 2015, the 5th Bio-Medicine Conference will be held in Tel-Hai Academic College. This is a joint initiative of MIGAL, the Galilee Hospitals, the newly established Bar-Ilan School of Medicine in Safed and regional colleges. About 300 people are expected to participate in this event; doctors and researchers from all the hospitals in the Galilee, companies and start-ups which operate in the local hospitals.

JRC Conference

On 18 December 2015, a Joint Research Centre of the European Commission (EC JRC) Workshop on Bioenergy & Bioeconomy, Status & perspectives will be held in Kiryat Shmona. This Workshop is organized by the Joint Research Centre (JRC) of the European Commission and MIGAL and will be performed within the framework of the 2015 JRC Enlargement/Integration/Neighbourhood Countries Programme. This event is intended to include about 35 participants from Israel, Enlargement/Integration/Neighbourhood countries, the EU and JRC). Experts will originate mainly from agricultural/environmental/technology institutes (including government agencies), renewable energy institutes, research centers and energy companies.