|01 June, 2009 |
| Hebrew U. to launch biggest center in Israel for brain research today |
|Established with lead gift from Edmond J. Safra Philanthropic Foundation – largest donation ever given to establish research center in Israel|
| Network of neurons |
Israel's largest institute for brain research will be launched today at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. The new $130 million Edmond and Lily Safra Center for Brain Sciences (or ELSC) will be announced in the presence of Mrs. Lily Safra.
The Edmond J. Safra Philanthropic Foundation has made a lead donation of $50 million to the project, and the Hebrew University is seeking additional funding from its friends in Israel and around the world.
The decision to invest in a center for brain sciences is based on the findings of an international monitoring committee, whose members include two Nobel laureates, Prof. Bert Sakmann and Prof. Richard Axel. The committee determined that the level of research in the field of brain sciences at the Hebrew University is among the highest in the world and that a newly equipped center will enable the university to be ranked among the top five in the world in this field.
President of the Hebrew University Prof. Menachem Magidor said, ''Thanks to the leadership of the Edmond J. Safra Philanthropic Foundation, the university will be able to help solve one of the key scientific questions of the 21st century -- how the human brain works -- by discovering new medical approaches for treating neurological disorders and applying new technologies that imitate the activity of the human brain.''
According to the acting director of the ELSC, Prof. Eilon Vaadia, ''With an increasing aging population and a rise in the prevalence of neurological disorders in old age, brain research should be a key issue in modern society. In another 15 years or so, we as a society won't have the financial capacity to support all the health problems for the growing ageing population, and so we must quickly find solutions.''
Mrs. Lily Safra, president of the Edmond J. Safra Foundation, said, “Understanding the brain is the premier challenge of our time, and I am confident that the Hebrew University’s investigators and students will make a profound impact. My husband Edmond would have been so proud that his name is linked to an initiative that brings new hope to families around the world suffering from Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and other devastating brain diseases.”
The Edmond and Lily Safra Center will pursue five different inter-cooperative fields of brain research. The first will focus on genes, molecules and nerve cells in the brain; the second will focus on research of structure and function of local neuronal circuits; the third will focus on research of electrical activity and the communication between brain areas, with the aim of understanding how senses, movement and thoughts are created; the fourth will research cognitive processes and will focus mainly on aspects of human brain function; while the fifth will focus on theoretical fields, computational aspects and building models of the nervous system, proposing new experiments and predicting their results. The ELSC will recruit an additional 15 members of staff to undertake the research.
To mark the launch of the Edmond and Lily Safra Center, a series of events involving leading researchers from the Hebrew University and overseas will be held as part of the 72nd meeting of the Hebrew University's Board of Governors:
• Symposium on June 8, “From brain research to brain repair,” will address advances in basic research in neuroscience and their consequences for treatment of neurodegenerative diseases. Lectures include “Genetics and neuroscience of autism;” “Deep brain stimulations for Parkinson's disease;” “'Prospects and challenges of stem cell research;” and “Advances in treatment of Alzheimer's disease.” Speakers include Nobel laureate Prof. Bert Sakmann, Prof. Menachem Magidor, Prof. Gerald Fishbach, Prof. Nissim Benvenisty, Prof. Eilon Vaadia, Prof. Marta Weinstock-Rosin and Prof. Hagai Bergmann.
• Roundtable discussion on June 9, “Brain, Art and Creativity,” will bring together artists and scientists to discuss the process of creativity and the potential for bridging the divide between art and science. Speakers include Prof. Idan Segev, artists Michal Rovner and Tsibi Geva, and Prof. Hanoch Gutfreund.
• Roundtable discussion on June 10, “Neuroscience and Society,” will highlight the far-reaching ethical, philosophical and psychological consequences of brain research. Speakers include Prof. Haim Sompolinsky, Prof. Hermona Soreq, Dr. Amir Amedi and Prof. Naftaly Tishby.
Downloadable File: SafraBrainCenter(Eng).doc