Getting Technical

October 23, 2013
BY Maayan Jaffe

maayan_jaffe_squareLast week, I had the privilege of attending the Technion’s annual event, which honored outgoing president Beth Perlman and celebrated incoming president John Davison.

And while Beth and John are both very impressive people, most impressive is the organization they serve, the American Technion Society.

In each speech, some of the incredible work being done by the Technion was revealed. For example:

• The Jacobs Technion-Cornell Innovation Institute (JTCII) plays a key role within Cornell NYC Tech  by offering interdisciplinary dual-degree programs in the applied information-based sciences and by bringing a global perspective to research and education with an emphasis on technology transfer, commercialization and entrepreneurship.

• Ubiquitin, the protein that causes cells to die, showing potential for new cancer treatments, was discovered by Technion Nobel laureates Aaron Ciechanover and Avram Hershko.

• Insightec, led by Technion graduate Yoav Medan, makes possible noninvasive destruction of tumors by ultrasound.

• Technion graduate Alex Silberklang, who headed GE Ultrasound (based in Israel) for a decade, invented cardiac imaging through PC-based ultrasound.

• Most recently, the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology received a $130 million grant to build an academy called the Technion Guangdong Institute of Technology as a joint venture with China’s Shantou University.


And the list is much, much longer.

A new Taub Center study — updating a previous study by professor Dan Ben-David from 2008 — reveals a further deterioration in the State of Israel’s higher education. Israel’s academic brain drain to the United States is unparalleled, with 29 Israeli scholars in the U.S. for every 100 remaining at home in 2008 (the most recent data available), an inc-rease from 25 per 100 just four years earlier. This is several orders of magnitude more than the 1.1 Japanese or the 3.4 French scholars for each 100 remaining in their respective home countries.

There’s a risk that Israel will lose its reputation as the start-up nation.

Technion is cutting-edge scientific and technological knowledge and capabilities. An investment in the Technion is an investment in the establishment of buildings and research centers, the acquisition of advanced scientific equipment and the development of infrastructure for new faculty. It is an investment in Israel today … and tomorrow.

The crowd at last week’s event was intimate, a demonstration that the local chapter of the American Technion Society is one of the area’s best-kept secrets.

There are many ways that we can support Israel — through advocacy, philanthropy, tourism, etc. But when it comes to telling Israel’s story, to showcasing the Israel you don’t see in the news and don’t hear about at policy conferences, the Technion can play a key role.

Next time you want to tell someone, “Israel is the start-up nation,” show them the list above or visit the Technion’s website ( Then it will be clear, “start-up nation” is not just a catch phrase or saying, it’s an action and an achievement. It’s an ambition and an energy. It’s technology that makes a difference. It’s the Technion. It’s Israel.

Maayan Jaffe is JT editor-in-chief