President John A. Fry led a delegation to Jerusalem to attend a symposium Jan. 29 sponsored by Hebrew University’s Institute for Drug Research and Drexel University to reaffirm the commitment to a partnership between the two universities.
The gathering, which was attended by about 40 researchers and faculty members from both universities, was the second binational Symposium on Translational Research in Biomedicine and Biomedical Engineering. The first symposium was held in August 2010 at Drexel.
“We had an extremely productive trip to Israel, where the groundwork was laid for a number of advances in Drexel’s global research profile,” Fry said in a statement. “The symposium continued to advance the Joint Drexel-Hebrew University Research Hub, which is funding four promising collaborative translational research projects already with at least four more on the way.”
Julie Mostov, the vice provost for global initiatives at Drexel and a delegate at the symposium, believes that future joint projects between the universities will soon produce results that can be made available to the public.
“There was some cutting-edge research on both sides and some enormous opportunities for synergy and projects that could potentially be commercialize-able,” Mostov said. “That is to say, we hope these projects could be translated from discoveries in the laboratory to products in the marketplace that could meet the health needs both in Israel and the United States and beyond.”
While in Israel, Fry met with President Peretz Lavie of the Israel Institute for Technology, or the Technion, in Haifa.
“We agreed to work together to try to establish a joint fund for student and faculty exchanges and targeted research programs between our two institutions,” Fry said of his meeting with Lavie
Fry also paid visits to administrators at Ben Gurion University of the Negev in Be’er-Sheva and met with a group of students participating in Ben Gurion University’s well-established civic engagement program, “Open Apartments.”
According to Mostov, the students who participate in the program get to live rent-free in apartments located in socioeconomically challenged neighborhoods.
“In exchange, they share their personal and academic skills with the neighborhood residents,” Mostov said. “They lead student clubs and activities for children and senior citizens. By doing this, they become sort of role models for the young people in the community, and at the same time they learn firsthand about community development.”
“President Fry was interested in thinking about how we could adapt it to our Drexel environment, and that was one of the things we talked about with the students,” Mostov said.
Drexel and Ben Gurion faculty and administrators also “identified several highly promising areas for targeted collaboration, including tissue engineering, autism, and women’s health and community nursing,” Fry said.
Fry and the delegation returned home after the three-day symposium ended Jan. 31. Mostov believes that, despite the short amount of time spent abroad, a lot of work was accomplished.
“It’s really important when the president goes,” Mostov said. “It says that Drexel is really committed to this. We’re serious about strengthening and building these relationships at all three of our partner universities.”
Fry said he looks forward to traveling back to Israel sometime later this year.