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November 27, 2008 - Image 49

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2008-11-27

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Business & Professional

Research Partnership

U-M, Israel working together in life sciences.


Ann Arbor

at the Life Science Institute," said Tauber,
co-chair of the committee that oversees
fifty international research teams
the partnership. At the same time, our
are vying for funding in the first
scientists benefit from the tremendous
round of a University of Michigan- intellectual capacity of the Israelis, and the
based program to strengthen ties between
fact that they do work in some areas we
U-M and Israeli life scientists.
can't get into:'
The U-M's Life Sciences Institute
For example, Israeli scientists are world
received 50 proposals for funding under
leaders in embryonic stem cell research.
the U-M/Israel Partnership for Scientific
Michigan state law places strict limits on
Research. That's about five times more
what U-M researchers are allowed to do
proposals than LSI Director Alan Saltiel
in that arena, though a Nov. 4 statewide
expected to receive.
ballot initiative [Proposal 2], would loosen
"I thought we might get 10 at the most:' those restrictions.
Saltiel said. "So I was surprised by the
"Israeli scientists, per capita, probably
number and the quality of the proposals
have the strongest scientific community in
as well as the number of collaborations
the world:'LSI's Saltiel said. And they're
that already exist between our scientists
very entrepreneurial. The Weizmann
and colleagues in Israel."
Institute, for instance, has incredible rev-
"It was an overwhelming response,
enues from discoveries, patents and prod-
and I think this is just the tip of the ice-
ucts that have come out of their research:'
berg;' said Saltiel, who helped found the
In June, LSI launched the Innovation
partnership, through a gift from Joe and
Partnership, an effort to shepherd promis-
Ellen Goldstein, in 2004. To date, the pro-
ing biomedical discoveries from the lab
gram has received gifts of approximately
bench to the marketplace.
"We're trying to move LSI in that direc-
Over the summer, LSI requested propos- tion, so there's a lot that we can learn from
als for research projects that would team
their culture of entrepreneurship:' Saltiel
U-M researchers with scientists at Israeli
said. "The Israeli scientists are a role
institutions. LSI received proposals for
model for us, in that sense
collaborative projects on topics ranging
U-M pediatric cardiologist Dr. Amnon
from heart disease and cancer genetics
Rosenthal said he's con-
to stem cell biology, deafness and tissue
fident the U-M/Israel
partnership will speed
The teams include scientists from
the development of new
Israel's top-flight research centers: the
disease therapies.
Weizmann Institute of Science, Hebrew
"I don't have any
University, Tel Aviv University, Ben-
doubt about it:' said
Gurion University and the Technion-Israel
Rosenthal, who serves
Institute of Technology.
Dr. Amnon
on the partnership com-
A selection committee is reviewing the
proposals and expects to announce win-
"The outcome of
ners by the end of the year. Awards will
many of these basic-research studies will
be granted in two categories: the Fund for
be clinical applications related to the ori-
Collaborative Research (up to $100,000 for gins of disease and the treatment of medi-
one year) and the Fund for Student and
cal disorders:"
Faculty Research Exchange (up to $50,000
In fact, U-M and Israeli scientists
to support an exchange opportunity).
already collaborate on studies of the fun-
"This is a way to support both the
damental chemistry and biology of cancer,
University of Michigan and Israel by
diabetes and neurodegenerative diseases.
utilizing the wonderful
"This sort of research between the
brainpower at each:' said University of Michigan and multiple
Detroit businessman,
academic institutions in Israel will be a
philanthropis and U-M
mutually beneficial and rewarding under-
alumnus Joel Tauber.
taking of cooperation:' Rosenthal said.
"It's a great opportu-
"And it's a wonderful way to train future
nity for Israeli scientists scientists and investigators here and in
to make use of the unri- Israel:'
valed research facilities
Joel Tauber
Research on page B4

Rosenberg lab faculty

How Science Without Borders Works

U-M computational biologist Noah
Rosenberg is working with graduate
students and faculty at both Tel Aviv
University and Hebrew University on
the Genetic Inheritance Project, a
study to gather and analyze hundreds
of DNA samples of Israeli populations
around the globe.
They are asking questions about
the genetic makeup of Israeli popula-
tions to trace ancestry and migratory
patterns and find other answers about
the history of Jewish sub-populations,
which so often impact inherited dis-
Preliminary analyses have studied
four Jewish populations — Ashkenazi,
Moroccan, Tunisian and Turkish. They
have confirmed that these popula-
tions are genetically intermediate
to European and Mediterranean
non-Jewish populations, with the
Ashkenazi population having greater
similarity to Europeans.
U-M faculty member David Ginsburg
collaborated with colleagues at Tel
Aviv University to study genetic

mutations in families belonging to
an ancient Jewish community in
the island of Djerba, off the coast of
Tunisia. These mutations are known
to lead to a rare and serious bleeding
Tracing the prevalence of these
mutations in the Djerba families led to
the insight that all affected Tunisian
Jewish families have origins in Djerba
and, therefore, only certain popula-
tions should be screened for the dis-
U-M faculty experts in evolution-
ary biology created and taught a
two-week course for Israeli students
called "Camp Evolution." It was taught
at the Blaustein Institute for Desert
Research in Sede Boker, Israel. Israeli
science students from Ben-Gurion
University, the Weizmann Institute,
and Tel Aviv University learned com-
putational techniques for studying the
ancestry and migration of human pop-
ulations. Guest faculty from Hebrew
University and the University of Haifa
also participated.

David Ginsberg

November 27 • 2008


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