Ben-Gurion University Plant Biologist Presents Research at Morris Arboretum

Prof. Ariel Novoplansky, a plant biologist from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, was the featured speaker at a meeting sponsored by the Philadelphia Chapter of the American Associates, Ben-Gurion University, (AABGU), a member of AABGU’s Mid-Atlantic Region. The meeting took place at Morris Arboretum, the University of Pennsylvania’s interdisciplinary resource center, which is also recognized as the official arboretum of the commonwealth. [Read more…]

American Associates of Ben Gurion U. Welcome Israeli Consul General


Israeli Consul General Yaron Sideman is welcomed to the American Friends of Ben Gurion University of the Negev reception in his honor by hostess AImee Katz and her daughter Kathy Katz-Hall. Photo by Bonnie Squires.

— by Bonnie Squires.

American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, held a reception to welcome the new Mid-Atlantic Region Israeli Consul General, Yaron Sideman.  Aimee Katz, of Bala Cynwyd, hosted the event, with Julia and Steve Harmelin, Esq., serving as co-hosts.  Derek Gillman, President and CEO of the Barnes Foundation, spoke briefly about his pride in the fact that limestone from the Negev had been selected as the building material for the new museum on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.

Sideman had served previously in Lagos and in the New York Consulate.  He told the large group assembled about cooperative ventures between America and Israel, going on right now, particularly with military forces.

The Consul General talked about Israel’s concerns, regarding the Arab Spring and the unrest and uncertainty in the region.  During a question and answer period, he spoke of Turkey’s trying to gain favor with other Muslim countries, asserting that the break in relations between Israel and Turkey was initiated by the latter.

More after the jump.


Derek Gillman (right), President and CEO of the Barnes Foundation museum, introduced the new Mid-Atantic Region Israeli Consul General, Yaron Sideman, pointing out the architects of the new Barnes museum selected granite from the Negev for the new building. Photo by Bonnie Squires.

He also said that Tunisia, the country which initiated the overthrow of dictators in Arab countries, had benefited from Israel’s support in prior years, although he was not certain what Israel is doing currently or can do to assure the transition in Tunisia to a democratic state.

A few years ago, the American Associates had spent time in Tunisia before going on to the Negev in Israel.  The president of Ben Gurion University, Dr. Rivka Carmi, is a geneticist who has done much research on the occurrence of Fragile X Syndrome in communities of Tunisian Jews from Djerba who have migrated to Israel.

Connie and Sam Katz, co-chairs of the Philadelphia region’s AABGU, were unable to get back to Philadelphia in time for the reception because of Hurricane Sandy.  But the Charlotte and Dr. Carroll Weinreb, who will be honored at an AABGU brunch on November 11 at the Ritz- Carlton in Philadelphia, were delighted to be congratulated by Consul General Sideman at the reception.  Sideman will also be at the brunch and will be joined there by the Honorable Barukh Binah from the Israeli Embassy in Washington, D.C.


Julia Harmelin (right) represented her husband, Steve Harmelin, Esq., who was traveling and could not make the reception. Photo by Bonnie Squires.




Irwin and Adele Lipton were delighted to be part of the crowd which welcomed Consul General Sideman. Photo by Bonnie Squires.




Murray Shusterman, Esq., was delighted to meet the new Israeli Consul-General. Photo by Bonnie Squires.




(Left to right) Consul General Sideman chats with hostess Aimee Katz and friend of AABGU committee Dottie Wasserman before Sideman spoke at the reception in his honor. Photo by Bonnie Squires.

Ben-Gurion Univ. Prof. Wins Elkeles Prize in Medicine


— Andrew Lavin

Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) Professor Ron N. Apte has been awarded the 2010 Samuel and Paula Elkeles Prize for Outstanding Scientist in the Field of Medicine.

Professor Apte is chairman of the Shraga Segal Department of Microbiology and Immunology and vice dean of the Basic Sciences division in the BGU Faculty of Health Sciences.  He is also the Irving Sklar Chair in Endocrinology and Cancer and a member of the National Institute for Biotechnology in the Negev.
Apte’s major field of research involves inflammation in malignant processes.  Approximately 15 percent of cancers are connected to inflammation, which typically result in organs where chronic inflammation has occurred.  For example, patients with Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) are more prone to cancer than the general population.

The pioneering studies of Apte’s group demonstrated the feasibility of intervening in malignant process by neutralizing inflammatory components in the “normal” microenvironment of a tumor. They also detailed the basic concepts underlying such treatment.

Inflammatory cells affect proliferation and invasiveness of malignant cells through the secretion of cytokines, which include Interleukin-1 (IL-1), the molecule that has been studied for years by Apte’s group.  The group has demonstrated the involvement of IL-1-mediated inflammation in tumor invasiveness and metastasis.  IL-1 causes tumor expansion because it suppresses the immune system and nourishes a tumor’s blood vessels.  Apte’s group treated tumor-bearing mice with a specific inhibitor of IL-1, known as the IL-1 receptor antagonist (IL-Ra), and succeeded in weakening the tumor’s invasiveness.

IL-Ra, in its generic form Anakirna, is a medication that efficiently alleviates symptoms of patients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, a chronic inflammatory disease.

Apte joined the BGU Faculty of Sciences in 1981 and has served two full terms as vice dean, as the vice dean of Student Affairs, and as the vice dean for Graduate Studies.  Since 2008, he has been the vice dean for Basic Science Affairs.

Apte has been a member of the board of the European Cytokine Society since 1989 and has served on the board of its journal, “The European Cytokine Network”.  He was also president of the Israel Immunological Society from 1996 to 1998.

Apte has served as a charter member of the International Cancer Microenvironment Society (ICMS) and as an editorial board member of its journal “Cancer Microenvironment”.   Prof. Apte has published more than 80 papers in the fields of immunology, tumor biology and cytokine biology.

The Samuel and Paul Elkeles Prize for Outstanding Scientist in the Field of Medicine was established 23 years ago.  The Jewish National Fund (JNF) administers the endowment as the executive trustee of the will and awards the prize annually.   Apte Elkeles Info.

About American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev

American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (AABGU) plays a vital role in sustaining David Ben-Gurion’s vision, creating a world-class institution of education and research in the Israeli desert, nurturing the Negev community and sharing the University’s expertise locally and around the globe. With some 20,000 students on campuses in Beer-Sheva, Sede Boqer and Eilat in Israel’s southern desert, BGU is a university with a conscience, where the highest academic standards are integrated with community involvement, committed to sustainable development of the Negev. For more information, please visit www.aabgu.org.