China and University of Haifa sign $10M deal on artificial intelligence

Rambam Haifa towerUniversity of Haifa signed an agreement with the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the Hangzhou Wahaha Group to build three Israeli-Chinese Artificial Intelligence centres in Haifa, Beijing and Hangzhou. The centres will house R&D facilities with an initial investment of $10M by Mr. Zhou Qinghou, Chairman of Wahaha.

The new centres will select cutting-edge application technologies from University of Haifa and the Chinese Academy of Sciences that can be commercialised, including vision tracking through mobile devices, image processing and big data for medical application, 3D image learning, chip technologies and biometric identification.

The agreement was signed in China in the presence of Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu and University President Ron Robin (pictured above with Mr. Qinghou), as part of a three-day official trip to boost business ties between the countries, reports Forbes.


University of Haifa and Rambam Medical Centre collaboration forges ahead

wahaha2Plans are underway to jointly build a 20-floor medical research tower on the Rambam Medical Centre campus in Haifa. A groundbreaking step was made forward this strategic partnership with a summit meeting between University faculty and doctors from Rambam. 

The meeting gathered leading academics from the Faculty of Social Welfare and Health Sciences and heads of medical units at Rambam to present joint research and discuss future medical studies together.

One example of such a joint research project is the work of Dr. Anat Gesser-Edelsburg, head of the Department of Health Promotion at the University’s School of Public Health. Her research on prevention of hospital infections in Israel recently won a research grant, and will be run in three major hospitals: the Rambam Healthcare Campus and the Bnei Zion Medical Centre in Haifa, and the Hadassah Medical Centre in Jerusalem. Such diseases result in about 5,000 deaths in Israel each year.


U of Haifa to lead Israel’s Cyber, Law and Policy research

Niva2University President Prof Ron Robin together with Cyber Law expert and Head of the newly established Centre for Cyber, Law and Policy Prof. Niva Elkin-Koren were hosted in London by law firm Milbank for a discussion titled: Can Liberty survive the Digital Age?

Israel’s National Cyber Bureau has partnered with University of Haifa to shape Israel’s national policies relating to cyber security and law. As new cyber security measures may upset the checks and balances which protect civil liberties and the free flow of information, there is an urgent need for innovative technological and legal solutions to balance competing public interests. “We are at a moment in time when new ways of thinking about civil rights and the rule of law will have a profound impact on society,” said Prof Elkin-Koren.

“University of Haifa has been a pioneer in academic research of Internet and Society and Law and Technology,” says President Robin, “and we are proud to have been chosen by the government to lead this important project.”


News from the Sea: Crusader shipwreck and gold coins discovered in Acre; 2,500 year old ship sets sail again

ShipA Crusader shipwreck, likely from the siege of Acre in 1291, was discovered in the Haifa Bay by a team of marine archaeologists from the University of Haifa’s Hatter Laboratory for Maritime Studies. They uncovered a stash of 30 gold coins minted in Florence, ceramics from Cyprus, Syria and southern Italy, and ship artefacts like anchors. The wreck was likely helmed by Crusaders fleeing the siege imposed by the Mamluks, in a final step to push the Europeans out of the region, explains The Smithsonian.

A replica of the Ma’agan Michael Ship finally set sail, 2,400 years after the original sank. The merchant ship ran aground in the shallow water of Israel’s northern coast. Soon covered by layers of sand underwater, it was exceptionally conserved for two millennia until it was discovered and excavated in 1985 by a University of Haifa team with funding by the late Lord Anthony Jacobs. The remains were reconstructed and are on display at the University’s Hecht Museum.

As the final stage in this generation-long enterprise, a full-scale sailing replica has been constructed to provide essential information on ancient shipbuilding techniques and sailing. The launch was dedicated to the project’s leader, Prof. Yaacov Kahanov z”l who sadly passed away just days before the voyage.


Hope for Depression: research predicts most effective treatment

depression3Prof. Sigal Zilcha-Mano, Director of the Psychotherapy Research Laboratory and the 2015 Dusty and Ettie Miller Award Fellow, is spearheading a research project to assess new solutions to depression. 

In a new paper, she describes how it can be predicted whether patients should undergo psychotherapy or get psychotropic drugs - based on their age, expectations of the relationship with the therapist and level of vindictiveness towards others.

Based on this research, the laboratory will start to offer free treatment to sufferers of clinical depression using scientifically proven new methods which take into account the individual’s personality characteristics. “Today, it is clear that one type of treatment is not suitable for all and that we have to suit the treatment to each person”, she says in an article in the Jerusalem Post.


Female Druse news presenter makes history on Israel’s Channel 1

Druze presenterGhadir Kamal Meriach became last month the first female Druze news presenter on Israel’s Channel 1. She is a proud alumnus of the University of Haifa, where she graduated her MA studies in international relations, specialising in international negotiations and decision making.

While prominent female Arab-Israeli news presenters and journalists have been seen on Israeli television for decades, the Druze community, with rare exceptions, continues to take a more conservative attitude regarding women working outside their villages.

Mrs. Meriach, 32, has been working at Israel’s Broadcasting Authority (IBA) since 2011, presenting the main news broadcast on its Arabic-language channel. Married with two children, she lives in the Druze village of Daliat al-Carmel.