In what is believed to be a global first, Israel’s Tel Aviv University has launched a new initiative to better understand the novel coronavirus and battle future pandemics.
Despite tens of millions of COVID-19 cases worldwide, the coronavirus remains largely misunderstood — but there’s one thing scientists know without a doubt: We can expect more health crises to come. That’s why Tel Aviv University opened the Center for Combating Pandemics, thought to be the first of its kind, in early February.
“In the past 15 years, the world has seen a string of viral pathogens infect large numbers of people, among them SARS, MERS, swine flu and avian flu. Clearly, we are not safe from dangerous emerging diseases,” Center Head Professor Itai Benhar of TAU’s Shmunis School of Biomedicine and Cancer Research said in a press release.
The interdisciplinary center aims to “improve frontline containment of infection, bolster biomedical knowledge for developing vaccines and treatments, and strengthen nations’ capacity to ensure social and economic resilience.”
Experts in preventive and emergency medicine, epidemiology, disaster management, psychology, social work, health professions, data science, environmental studies and engineering are all working toward these goals.
In the area of containment, a Google-funded study at TAU’s AI and Data Science Center is employing AI techniques and advanced statistical methods to build a model of the spread of the pandemic to assist in planning and testing methods for stopping infection. In another project, a team has developed a robotic blood test for antibodies against the coronavirus, a method the Israel Defense Forces will test on soldiers.
The center also plans on establishing a Biomedical Solutions Task Force to deepen the understanding of the mechanisms underlying the virus and develop precision methods to diagnose, treat and prevent it. Already under development are a vaccine candidate from Professor Jonathan Gershoni that has a United States patent and funding from the 3M Corporation, as well as a nano-vaccine and an antibody “cocktail” to treat COVID-19.
Scholars in economics, law, public policy, management, employment and education will comprise a Social and Economic Resilience Think Tank to inform national policy during medical crises.
The Center for Combating Pandemics also will be a coordination point for 100 TAU groups researching the coronavirus. It will provide graduate fellowships, host visiting professors, and host conferences and workshops as well as facilitate international collaborations.
“Over the longer term, we envision the center not only contributing to global efforts to combat and contain the current crisis, but also building the scientific and professional foundations to enable us to successfully cope with the next one,” said Benhar.
Groundbreaking Center For Combating Pandemics Launched In Israel appeared first on ISRAEL21c.
(Edited by Carlin Becker and David Martosko)
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