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27 February, 2012

Foreign diplomats visit Hebrew University to discuss academic cooperation with Israeli universities

Diplomats meet with Hebrew University president Menahem Ben-Sasson (7th from left) and other University representatives
Diplomats meet with Hebrew University president Menahem Ben-Sasson (7th from left) and other University representatives

Ambassadors and representatives of a dozen foreign embassies in Israel visited the Hebrew University of Jerusalem today to discuss cooperation between international and Israeli academic institutions. The diplomats learned about Hebrew University’s research initiatives, its focus on international cooperation, and how foreign embassies can promote cooperation and joint research between the Hebrew University and their countries’ institutions of higher learning.

The diplomats visited under the auspices of the Ambassadors Club of Israel (ACI), an independent organization that provides foreign diplomats with a forum where they can meet informally with leading figures from various sectors of Israeli society including business, technology, academia and the arts.

Accompanied by ACI founder and president Ambassador Yitzhak Eldan, the diplomats represented the embassies of Angola, Costa Rica, Ethiopia, France, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Peru, Slovakia, Sri Lanka and Thailand, as well as the American Center in Jerusalem.

Greeting the diplomats, Hebrew University president prof. Menahem Ben-Sasson described the University’s pioneering role in developing Israel as a world leader in scientific and technological innovation. “The Hebrew University is the start-up of the start-up nation,” Ben-Sasson said, noting that of one-third of all academic scientific research in Israel takes place there.

Prof. Shai Arkin, the Hebrew University’s vice president of research and development, described the wide range of research taking place at the University. Arkin pointed out that the Hebrew University is the only university in Israel listed among the top 100 universities in the world and is a leader in receiving European Research Council grants, following only Oxford and Cambridge Universities in the UK and two technical universities in Switzerland. In the last decade, said Arkin, graduates and staff of the Hebrew University have won seven Nobel Prizes and the Fields Medal, the world’s top prize in mathematics.

Hebrew University vice-rector Prof. Yaacov Schul, whose responsibilities include international cooperation agreements and student-exchange programs, talked about strengthening joint research with foreign universities, developing exchange programs, attracting foreign faculty and creating degree programs that are attractive to foreign students.

Other Hebrew University officials meeting with the group included vice president and director-general Billy Shapira; Prof. Mimi Ajzenstadt, provost of the Rothberg International School; Prof. Orly Manor, director of the Braun School of Public Health and Community Medicine; and Yossi Benarroch, director of the Division for Development and Public Relations.

The visit concluded with a tour of the historic Mt. Scopus campus and a presentation on the latest cutting-edge developments in brain research delivered by Prof. Idan Segev, the David & Inez Myers Chair in Computational Neuroscience. Segev illustrated groundbreaking work by Hebrew University researchers in such areas as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, as well as his own work as one of the leaders of the Blue Brain Project, simulating the human brain on a $20 million IBM supercomputer that costs $1 million annually to cool with Geneva lake water.

 

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