ELSC is taking the Corona Crisis in stride! On top of the academic efforts to ensure a smooth and productive online semester, the staff, faculty, and students of ELSC are donating their knowledge, skills, and time to fight back against coronavirus and serve the community. From developing a new technique for coronavirus tests and examining coronavirus tests at a leading hospital in Jerusalem, through serving senior citizens and tutoring high school students, ELSC volunteers reach many who are affected by the Corona Crisis.
A team of 15 researchers and students from the Hebrew University (HU) and Hadassah Medical Center, led by our very own Dr. Naomi Habib and by Prof. Nir Friedman of HU’s Institute of Life Sciences and School of Engineering and Computer Science, has developed a faster and cheaper way to test COVID-19. This success will lead us to handling about 15,000 tests simultaneously! The efforts are co-led by Masha Adam and Danny Kitsberg. Among the team members are Anna-Kristina Schmidtner, Malka Nissim-Rafinia and Hagit Turn from ELSC.
Webinar about the development of a faster and cheaper way to test COVID-19
Date & Time: May 6, 2020, 08:00 PM Israel time
ELSC researchers are assisting with the national effort to examine as many coronavirus tests as possible. They work on their essential projects at ELSC during the day, and at night they volunteer at the Hadassah Medical Center. One of the volunteers is ELSC Vector Core Facility Director, Dr. Maya Sherman: “I’m managing the virus core facility lab in ELSC, and when Hadassah interdepartmental equipment unit was turned into Corona tests facility, I eagerly stepped in and tried to contribute. My molecular biologist background and lots of laboratory work experience turned out very relevant and hopefully valuable for this important collective effort.”
The nursing and medical community risks running out of personal protective equipment. Fortunately, there is a tremendous recruitment of volunteers from manufacturers and 3D printer experts who are interested in contributing their efforts and resources to producing the necessary equipment. We’ve built a website (bit.ly/volunteers4medicalprotection) that links the needs of medical protective equipment with these volunteers. This initiative was led by Prof. Ami Citri and Itay Shalom. The website was developed with the support of Itamar Frachtenberg of the ELSC Fabrication Lab.
At these Corona times, ELSC is producing an online lecture series on recent discoveries in the different disciplines included under the brain sciences umbrella, initiated by Prof. Idan Segev. Online Zoom lectures will be delivered three times a week, on Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays at 4:00 PM starting Sunday April 19th . Webinar topics will include memory improvement, brain simulation, brain-machine interface, machine learning and brain & joy of music. The lectures will be conducted in Hebrew and are geared towards the general public and scientists alike.
Four of our advanced doctoral students published a paper in medRxiv.org – the preprint server for Health Sciences, that offers computational tools for efficient and practical sample pooling, a method that has recently been proposed to confront the burden of the enormous number of tests. This groundbreaking research was done by Itamar Landau, Haran Shani-Narkiss, Nadav Yayon, and Omri Gilday.
ELSC organized a group of volunteers to assist Israel’s Ministry for Social Equality with helping senior citizens in Jerusalem obtain food and medication. Our staff, professors, and students run errands for elderly people who can’t leave their homes during this time as they are more vulnerable to becoming severely ill with the virus. As rumors of this initiative ran around the campus, people from other departments joined our volunteer group as well!
Over 140 Hebrew University graduate students are volunteering to tutor high school students in schools throughout Jerusalem in preparation for their matriculation exams during the Corona Crisis. Dr. Inbal Goshen from ELSC recruited students from various disciplines at the Hebrew University who volunteered to tutor in various fields including physics, mathematics, biology, English language and expression, Arabic, and even computer science, history and Bible.
With the registration deadline for the next academic year approaching, it was clear that ELSC won’t be able to host prospective students at the Suzanne and Charles Goodman Brain Sciences Building for an informational day as has been done annually. Having to improvise quickly, the academic administrative team designed a well-structured virtual program. Prospective students from Israel and around the world joined a Zoom call that included opening remarks by Prof. Adi Mizrahi, ELSC co-Director, and Nili Vershov, PhD Programs Coordinator. The program was followed by a presentation led by Prof. Yonatan Loewenstein, head of the PhD program, and three PhD students from different disciplines. Watch the recording now!
During the holiday of Passover, some of our students were confined to their apartments or dormitories in Jerusalem by themselves with limited access to homemade food. ELSC organized an initiative to make sure that each student will have a hot meal for the holiday! Some of the ELSC staff and faculty cooked the meals at home and we hired a chef as well. The food was distributed among the students in Jerusalem and they all loved it! Their stomachs were full and their hearts were warmed by the caring they received from their ELSC family.