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Thomas Jefferson University Announces Global Center in Israel


The Jefferson Israel Center will expand ties in Israel, creating benefits for students, scientists and educators

Israel Center Ceremony

Left to Right: Mark Tykocinski, MD, Provost and Executive Vice President of Thomas Jefferson University and The Anthony F. and Gertrude M. DePalma Dean of the Sidney Kimmel Medical College; Professor Dina Ben-Yehuda, Dean of the Hebrew University Hadassah Faculty of Medicine; Zvi Grunwald, MD, James D. Wentzler Professor of Anesthesiology at Sidney Kimmel Medical College who will serve as Executive Director of the Jefferson Israel Center.

JERUSALEM, ISRAEL — With an eye toward driving innovation, creating unparalleled academic experiences for students, and strengthening global relationships, Thomas Jefferson University announced today the opening of the Jefferson Israel Center in Jerusalem before a packed audience at the King David Hotel.

The Jefferson Israel Center is the third global center established by the Philadelphia-based University, which is home to the 194-year-old Sidney Kimmel Medical College; Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, the 16th ranked hospital in the United States; and a wide variety of professions-based academic programs, including architecture, design, textiles, fashion, engineering, and business, as well as health science tracks such as medicine, nursing, rehabilitation sciences and population health.

“Israel today is what Silicon Valley was in the late 1990s. It’s an ecosystem of innovation that has more technology start-ups per capita than anywhere in the world right now,” said Mark L. Tykocinski, MD, Provost and Executive Vice President of Academic Affairs at Jefferson, and The Anthony F. and Gertrude M. DePalma Dean of the Sidney Kimmel Medical College. “In an increasingly global academic ecosystem, the opportunities are unbounded for leveraging international institutional partnerships to innovate science and professional training, and in so doing, to give life to our vision for ‘redefining humanly possible.’”

Already with programmatic collaborative research and education ties to several leading Israeli biomedical institutions, among them Hebrew University Hadassah Medical School and the Weizmann Institute of Sciences, Jefferson will deepen such partnerships, as well as broaden its academic ties beyond the biomedical space to embrace leading Israeli institutions in architecture, design, textiles and fashion sectors and identify collaborative solutions to the world’s most pressing problems.

“We foresee giving an industrial design or smart textiles project to our students in those disciplines and the very same project to students at Shenkar College of Engineering and Design or Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design, and having them work across continents on solutions that are powered by diversity of thought, experience and culture,” said Zvi Grunwald, MD, James D. Wentzler Professor of Anesthesiology at Sidney Kimmel Medical College who will serve as Executive Director of the Jefferson Israel Center.

The Jefferson Israel Center will also expand collaborative research ties with more Israeli academic centers, encompassing all of its medical schools, as well as forefront Israeli biomedical innovation incubators, such as the Sheba Innovation Initiative. In parallel, the goal will be to scale-up joint ventures with Israeli companies, by leveraging Jefferson’s unique co-development business model and the substantial scale of its rapidly growing clinical care footprint and clinical trials consortium.

One area of particular interest to Jefferson is addressing the issue of health disparities in both the United States and Israel. By working closely with the Israel Innovation Authority (IIA), the Jefferson Israel Center could also open additional funding sources for Jefferson to explore this and other global initiatives.

Standing alongside Dr. Ami Appelbaum, Chairman of the Board of the Israel Innovation Authority and Professor Dina Ben Yehuda, Dean of the Hebrew University Hadassah Faculty of Medicine, Jefferson’s academic leaders celebrated the possibilities that lie ahead.

Jefferson’s Dr. Tykocinski and the IIA’s Appelbaum signed a Joint Declaration Letter of Intent, enabling the organizations to issue a joint Call for Proposals that will link Israeli healthcare start-ups with Jefferson’s expansive academic and clinical enterprise for the purpose of jointly propelling cutting-edge products and services to market.

Professor Ben Yehuda pointed out that the collaboration between The Hebrew University Hadassah Medical School and the Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University was formalized with the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the two institutions more than three years ago here in Jerusalem.  Since then, their collaboration has included the yearly placement of four to six students of The Military Track of Medicine (Tzameret) for a one-month rotation at Jefferson, and the initiation of a variety of bilateral research efforts jointly funded and administered by investigators of both institutions.

“We view the inauguration of the Jefferson Israel Center as an event of strategic importance for expanding the cooperation between our two institutions,” Professor Ben Yehuda added.  “We envision that the center will provide the necessary framework for bilateral administration of many additional cooperative activities and projects.  Prominent among the projected outcomes are broadening the horizons of the students from both institutions, leveraging the exceptional talent and resources from both sides for exploiting the ever-increasing interrogative capabilities of ‘Big Data’ for optimization of patient-specific treatment in a broad range of medical specialties, and expansion of collaborative efforts for the development of new treatments and technologies for disease management and improvement of quality and duration of life.”

“The ability to conduct experiments and exams in the world’s leading health institutes and clinics is an important step in the development of Israeli startups and companies, beyond the research and development stages,” Appelbaum added. “The collaboration with the Jefferson Israel Center will create a win-win situation to foster innovation, create business opportunities and achieve major medical developments.”

Thomas Jefferson University has established similar global centers in Japan and Italy and plans to add two more, in Latin America and India. The university also has collaborative relationships in number of other countries, for example, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Finland, Australia and China.


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