Beersheba – a growing neurotech oasis in the desert

shriki

Dr. Shriki’s Lab

Israel Brain Technologies (IBT) recently visited Beersheba, where promising neurotech developments are emerging from Ben Gurion University and Soroka Medical Center. Interview with Dr. Oren Shriki.

Dr. Oren Shriki is one of the leaders of the growing neurotech efforts underway in Israel’s southern city of Beersheba: “We have a strong neurotech ecosystem here,” explains Dr. Shriki, who heads the Computational Psychiatry and Brain-Computer Interface Lab in the Dept. of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at Ben Gurion University. “The university is home to leading engineering departments and a hi-tech park. And across the street we have Soroka Hospital, a leading clinical and research center. This environment is ideal for both developing and testing breakthrough technologies, and ultimately bringing them to patients who so desperately need them.”

 

(from L to R) Dr. Iris Geffen Gloor, Miri Polachek, Professor Rivka Carmi and Dr. Oren Shriki

(from L to R) Dr. Iris Geffen Gloor, Miri Polachek, Professor Rivka Carmi and Dr. Oren Shriki

IBT’s Executive Director, Miri Polachek, and Dr. Iris Geffen Gloor, IBT’s Industry Relations Liaison, were impressed in their recent visit to Dr. Shriki’s lab. “The research center is doing some very innovative work in the arena of diagnostics, for example, and we are now discussing concrete ways that we can cooperate to strengthen Israel’s braintech hub,” says Polachek.

Dr. Shriki expanded on the directions he is working on in the arena of diagnostics: “Today, diagnosis of patients such as those with Autism, ADHD and other psychiatric conditions, is done based purely on behavior. We are developing solutions based on novel analyses of brain activity that can complement the behavioral assessment and result in a more accurate diagnosis, at an earlier stage, which will have a very positive impact on treatment.”

The IBT team also met with Ben Gurion University’s President Professor Rivka Carmi, who was enthusiastic about working closely with IBT. “Ben Gurion University committed to partner with us and provide sponsorship support to our upcoming BrainTech Israel event to take place in March 2017, and the meeting with Professor Carmi strengthened our cooperation on this front,” says Dr. Iris Geffen Gloor, who is heading the Third BrainTech Israel Conference.

The IBT team also met with Dr. Gal Ifergane, Director of the Department of Neurology and Deputy Director General at Soroka Medical center, to hear first-hand about the most pressing needs of neurologists working with patients.

“Our joint vision – Ben Gurion University, IBT, Soroka – is to see Israel become a world leader in BrainTech,” says Dr. Shriki. “I think that IBT is doing great work, both in their events and in initiatives like the Brainnovations accelerator. I attend IBT’s events to get the different perspectives, including the perspective of industry, and this is very effective.”

Dr. Shriki believes that the steps to achieving his vision include identifying the most promising technologies, as well as the “bottlenecks” which may be preventing them from breaking through, so that these can be released.

“We came away from our visit to Beersheba really inspired by the work that Dr. Shriki and Dr. Ifargane are doing,” concludes Miri Polachek. “We are excited to see that our friends at Ben Gurion and Soroka share our vision for accelerating braintech and making Israel a leading international hub for brain technologies and related research.”

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