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Hebrew University launches Converging Sciences Center

A Center for Converging Sciences and Technologies, focusing on cross-disciplinary scientific research on a more comprehensive and cooperative scale than has ever been attempted anywhere, has been launched by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, in cooperation with Yissum, the technology transfer company of the university.

The university is the first in the world to establish a center that will include cooperative research groups in the exact, biomedical sciences, as well as in humanities, law and the social sciences, said Prof. Dan Gazit of the Hebrew University’s Faculty of Dental Medicine, who is the founder and director of the new center.

Speaking at the new center’s opening meeting on January 30, Hebrew University President Prof. Menachem Magidor said that the new center will reflect the university’s “great experience in flexibility, openness and the ability to think out of the box” regarding scientific research.

Prof. Gazit explained that while the concept of converging sciences was formulated a few years ago by the U.S. National Science Foundation, that vision did not include those fields outside of the exact and biomedical sciences, which the Hebrew University is now incorporating. The Hebrew University’s vision of converging sciences brings together virtually all fields of scholastic endeavor. This, he said, is a new and perhaps even revolutionary approach in scientific cooperation.

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The new center will involve cooperative planning and definition of research projects that will be examined from the outset from a number of perspectives involving elements of scientific, economic, ethical, societal and legal aspects, Gazit explained. In this way the center will be able to identify and to promote the study of scientific questions and challenges that can be resolved only by combining the expertise of scientists stemming from the fields of biotechnology/biomedicine, nanotechnology/nanoscience, information technology, cognitive science, arts and humanities together.

“A remarkable pool of highly skilled professors already exists within the various faculties of the Hebrew University from which experts with diverse talents can be drawn for projects within the Center for Converging Sciences and Technologies, ” said Gazit, but the center will aim also to extend its reach to attract the best scientific minds from elsewhere as well.

Also among those addressing the center’s opening meeting were Prof. Haim Rabinowitch, rector of the Hebrew University; Prof. Hillel Bercovier, university vice-president for research and development; and Nava Swersky Sofer, CEO of Yissum. The meeting attracted an overflow audience that included leading public, academic and industrial figures.

Jerry Barach | Hebrew University
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