Shared challenges, future solutions

The University of Sydney held an excellent symposium today – featuring some of Israel’s top scientists, academics and educators.

The large and diverse crowd heard a variety of cutting edge presentations, illustrating how much Australia can gain and learn from Israel, and hopefully vice-versa.

As a short summary of the morning program:

Michal Schwartz, Professor of Neuroimmunology at the Weizmann Institute, gave an impressive overview of her  work on the importance of immune function in the central nervous system, with ramifications for treatment of stroke and neurodegenerative diseases.  She also spoke of the value of her persistance, despite having ideas that were initially unpopular.

Dr Dror Seliktar from the Technion, spoke about his use of hydrogels for tissue engineering and regenerative medciine.  He described uses for the novel biomaterial Gelrin which he developed.

Prof Moshe Phillip, director of the Institute for Endocrinology and Diabetes at the Schneider Childrens Medical Centre, discussed his groundbreaking work towards the development of an artificial pancreas for treatment of childhood diabetes.

Prof Meni Ben-Hur, a researcher at the Institute of Soil, Water and Environmental Sciences, at the Volcani Centre, described current efforts regarding water conservation – the vast majority of water for agriculture in Israel has now shifted to treated effluent rather than fresh water.

Prof Gideon Grader, from the Technion, talked abou his efforts in energy development

Switching gears, Prof Emmanuel Tov discussed the latest developments about the Dead Sea Scrolls, Prof Baruch Schwarz discussed the use of IT in education, and Prof Yael Ziv discussed methology for teaching Hebrew as a Second Language.  She included the information that the Ulpan system has been used by other countries as a model for teaching e.g. Welsh and Azerbajani.

Congratulation to the organisers. It is great to hear about the Israeli academic advances that will make a positive difference in all our lives.  The chief Scientist of NSW opened the symposium with some very positive welcoming words.

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