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Yael Vizel is a Technion graduate and co-founder of Zeekit Ltd., a fashion startup that removes the hit-and-miss aspect of online clothes shopping by enabling shoppers to “try on” clothing — virtually — before buying. Zeekit won Israel’s Smartup2 competition in 2014, and Yael has been named one of the top three entrepreneurs in Israel.

Yael served in the Israeli Air Force, breaking gender barriers to become the first woman to command the field technology crews and to lead the Telecommunications Officer’s Course. She graduated from the Technion Faculty of Electrical Engineering with honors in 2010, and started her career at Elbit Systems.

We had the chance to sit down and talk to her about her startup.

Can you tell us about Zeekit and how it works?

Speaking at Innovation Exchange, an event in Tel Aviv to tap into Israel’s community of innovators and entrepreneurs.

A user uploads a full-length photo of herself/himself and then proceeds to shop in our online store. Our software scans the web and fashion catalogs to analyze every item of clothing for size, fit and look. You can filter according to product type (i.e. dresses, shoes), price and brands. Once you have selected your items, we use image-processing technology to show you exactly how you will look in the item and what size you would take.

How does Zeekit differ from companies online with similar “try-on” features?

Other solutions do not show how the clothing will actually look on you, but how it will look on a 3D avatar. Our technology gives a more accurate picture. We analyze 80 different points of fit, such as the shoulders, armpits and collar. Once you are in our system, we can reconstruct every item of clothing out there and you can see yourself actually wearing it. We offer recommendations and choose the right size for a specific retailer. You can mix and match, and use our app to ask for the crowd’s help in choosing which dress looks better.

We have been called the Google of Fashion because we map the fashion world in a new way, making it accessible and giving you the valuable experience of seeing yourself wearing all the clothes sold online, without any additional effort from clothing companies.

How did your Technion education help shape your career?

Yael at the 2015 AIPAC Policy Conference

Zeekit’s technology is incredibly complicated. You can never tell what kind of pictures consumers will upload and there are no standards in how clothing is presented in stores. There are so many factors that influence the algorithms. What Technion graduates bring to the table is the methodology or spirit of taking a very big problem, breaking it into small building blocks, delving into every building block to create a solution for each one, and then zooming out and combining those solutions to make this huge system work as a whole. Many of our employees are Technion graduates.

Also, my favorite course at the Technion was image processing. So when I worked at Elbit, I took a few algorithms from my project at the Technion and applied them to my work designing microprocessors for computers of airplane cockpits. With Zeekit, I thought I’d take more or less the same math from the image processing algorithms and apply them to the e-commerce world.

Do you ever envision using these solutions for a greater good?

Image processing can push civilization forward in so many areas. We didn’t plan to be in fashion, but found an untapped niche in the marketplace. I had always intended to study biomedical engineering, and take my skills to the medical world. So in our next company, we hope to use our algorithms for human body recognition but focus them on medical analysis. I have so many ideas where we can use this technology to help civilization take a few steps forward.


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Chairman of the Technion Executive Council and Microsoft Israel CEO Danny Yamin. Photo credit: Kobi Kantor

As Chairman of the Technion Executive Council, Danny Yamin, a Technion graduate and CEO of Microsoft Israel, advises the Technion on administrative and financial matters. At the time of his appointment in 2012, Technion President Peretz Lavie said: “Danny Yamin’s vast management experience in a global organization is essential at a time when the Technion itself is treading deeper into the global arena.”

Last month, ATS Associate VP of Communications Tova Kantrowitz had the chance to sit down with Danny on the Technion campus to talk about the work of the Council and to hear his thoughts about the Technion’s global reach.

What is the role of the Technion Executive Council?

It is like a Board of Directors at a company, and every university in Israel has a similar governing body. Our role is to supervise Technion leadership activity, help develop strategy and approve budgets. We have committees such as financial and audit, for example, which make sure everything is conducted according to the law and meets expectations. For any major plan the Technion has, we make sure that all decisions are consistent with the overall strategic plan of the university.

Who makes up the membership?

The Technion’s 23 Council members include public representatives such as myself, together with Technion professors, past presidents and industry leaders. Not all members are engineers or technologists, as I have tried to make the Council a diverse team in order to have a rich dialogue with the Technion leadership. Each volunteer member serves for nine years.

How has the Council benefited the Technion in recent times?

We have great leadership and management at the Technion, but global projects such as those in New York and China are new to the university. So having Council members such as myself and others with global multinational experience is very helpful. Right here at home, Israel’s future depends on quality technological education, and there is no doubt in my mind that the experience, knowledge and skills of our members contribute greatly to the influence and future of the Technion, as well as to the scope and quality of its graduates.

How is your working relationship with the Technion administration?

I have a strong partnership with President Peretz Lavie and I believe he is one of the Technion’s best presidents. We have lots of work to do together, and I feel privileged to work with him and to be surrounded by so many talented people.

What strategic goals do you help with?

We want the Technion to be on the same level as the Ivy Leagues. Our goal is for more young people to aspire to become students of the Technion. We used to export Jaffa oranges, and now we export knowledge, products, and know-how, and the Technion is an acknowledged leader in this space. We want to raise the Technion’s profile in this area to an even greater degree.

Why is “globalization” so important?

Globalization has a lot to do with the way people in Israel view the Technion. Success for a company is based on its becoming global, and one of the key attributes of the Technion’s success is its ability to be global. Representing Israel in this way is fantastic. When it comes to health and energy, Israel in general and the Technion specifically help solve the world problems.

Can you tell us a little bit about Microsoft Israel?

I have been the CEO of Microsoft Israel since 2004 but have worked at the company for 12 years. We have R & D centers here in Haifa and in Herziliya. I represent Microsoft in Israel, and Israel at Microsoft. Microsoft is a business, but as a company we invest in Israel in areas such as education. The fact that there are significant Microsoft R & D centers in Israel speaks to the importance of investment here. The majority of engineers in the Haifa facility are Technion graduates, and we also employ students and provide scholarships. Microsoft is part of the unique Israeli ecosystem that includes large companies, start-ups, and strong academic institutions – all these ingredients work together to create the “secret sauce” for success.

Given your busy role as Microsoft Israel’s CEO, why did you decide to take on the Technion position?

I previously served as Chairman of the Technion Alumni 100 Club and was also a member of the Council before becoming its Chairman. Volunteering is my way of giving back to the Technion because everything I have is thanks to the education I received. I was raised in a middle class family and the only asset I have is my Technion education.

What role does the American Technion Society play in advancing the Technion?

We are happy to have the support of the American Technion Society. It is the largest Society; it is a great help and we need it. The country has many needs and government support is not enough – that is where the ATS comes in.

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Avi Hein and his wife were newlyweds when they left Maryland for Israel in 2004 to make Aliya. At the time, he was interested in a career focused on Zionism and politics, but it didn’t take long to catch the entrepreneurial bug.

“I wanted to be part of what would later be called the ‘Start-Up Nation,’” Avi said. He then proceeded to dive in head first — working in Israel’s high-tech sector.

Avi had been living in Israel for a number of years and was fluent in Hebrew when he decided to go back to school. He considered both English and Hebrew programs, and chose the Technion’s MBA Start-uP program.

Avie Hein

Avi Hein at the Sarona complex in Tel Aviv, where the Technion offers the Start-uP MBA as well as other academic programs.

“My main requirement was that the program be on a high academic level from a top-notch university.” He was specifically focused on technology management with the goal of continuing his career in high tech, rather than doing something like finance or consulting, and the Technion Start-uP MBA program fit the bill. “This program provided a holistic view of how to run a tech company, from seed funding to managing a thriving company.”

“Avi was one of our first group of students, and our second class with 20 students is already underway,” said Dr. Avital Regev Siman-Tov, Managing Director of Technion MBA Programs. “Israel is the perfect place to learn about start-ups,” she says. And since Technion alumni have founded or managed two thirds of the Israeli-based companies listed on Nasdaq, she adds that “the Technion is the best institution to teach start-up skills.”

Today, Avi is a graduate of the first class of the Technion Start-uP MBA program, a one-year international program in Tel Aviv, taught entirely in English and focused on technology management, promoting entrepreneurship and start-ups.

The Start-uP MBA curriculum covers a broad range of courses while exposing students to Israel’s thriving tech scene through internships, consulting projects and on-site corporate visits. It is unique in that it is taught by leading professors “on loan,” so to speak, for short periods of time, from elite universities all over the world. To do this, some courses are taught in weekly blocks, so that students have one class all day – from Sunday to Thursday. “Its intense schedule allowed the Technion to bring in top professors. But instead of having two months to do one class – you have two weeks at best,” said Avi. “The program was at a very high academic level and was very demanding.” Unlike most of his peers, Avi is not an engineer. But his background was not an issue, since the courses were mostly business-oriented.

Avi in front of one of the three Technion buildings at Sarona.

Even though Avi had been working in Israel’s high-tech scene for a few years, the program provided industry visits to companies he had never been to. “You work in your own company all day and don’t get to see what other companies are doing,” he says. “It’s exciting because in Israel, unlike the U.S., we are used to doing more with less. It is about results and getting things done with much less focus on bureaucracy and procedure.”

Avi found the most beneficial aspect of the program was learning how to build a company from the initial idea to launch and learn how to apply the traditional aspects of functional management— applying that information to his own work. As Marketing Manager of IncrediBuild, a 12-year-old software company that accelerates software development processes, enabling popular products that include game consoles such as the Playstation and Xbox, he still deals with budgets and IP questions like a start-up would. “There are a lot of the same issues working in an established technology company, and having the Start uP MBA helps,” he said. “Today you need a business degree, focusing on technology management. People who know the technology often don’t know the business. Others who only know business don’t know technology. The Technion MBA provides a unique mix of technology and business. As a graduate of the Technion program, I understand the financial aspects and the perspective on how to view the whole business. For example, in class we debated case studies of how to enter new markets and explore new business models as a software company. This is something I’m working on now.”

But perhaps the best part of Avi’s experience was the international student experience. “It was great to be exposed to students from China, Mexico, Israel, the U.S., Australia, etc. and to understand their expectations. It helped me stay in touch with that global environment,” he said. “If, in the future, I want to set up a marketing campaign in a particular community in the world, I will have a greater understanding of the culture, what is expected, and I will have someone to talk to in order to see things from their unique cultural perspective.”

Classes are located at the Sarona campus in Tel Aviv, which is convenient due to the proximity to the heart of Israel’s business center, and it is just a short walk from the Azrieli Towers. But according to Avi, the location has other benefits. “Being in the center of things helps. Many of Israel’s top high-tech companies are nearby. In addition, this campus is gorgeous. It is not a traditional university campus, and students love the environment. One of the things we learned in our Consumer Behavior class is that people are affected by their environment. When you are in a positive beautiful environment, you tend to perform better.”

Though Israel has had high-tech for a few decades, people did not regard Israel as a high tech superpower until the publication of the book Start-Up Nation. Now the public knows that “if you look inside the iPad or iPhone, or turn on your computer or game console, the software is based on Israeli tech,” he said. “People look at Israel as a vibrant high-tech country.” With the Technion Start-uP MBA under his belt, Avi is certainly part of this innovative, entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Click here to visit the Start-uP MBA website: http://startupmba.technion.ac.il/




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Amit Mizrahi, a senior at International Academy High School in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan shares his summer experience as a student at the Technion’s international science and technology program — SciTech. The rigorous research program satisfied his “inner-geek” — he works after school as a software developer at a startup company and on various software projects. He also connected to his heritage: Amit’s mother, father and other family members earned their degrees from the Technion.

Amit Mizrahi with Technion President Peretz Lavie

Amit Mizrahi explains his research to Technion President Peretz Lavie

In Judaism there is a phrase, “L’dor Va’dor,” which means “from generation to generation.” In this sense, Judaism is a faith that is based strongly on roots, history and tradition. While many Jews have found their roots by visiting Eastern Europe or looking through old family documents, I have connected to my past in a different, perhaps unconventional way – by doing research at the Technion—Israel Institute of Technology.

The Technion runs in my blood. My grandfather is a Professor Emeritus there, while my mother, father, grandmother, grandfather, aunt and uncle all hold degrees from the university. Throughout my life I have heard countless intriguing stories about the research conducted there and its impact on Israel’s hi-tech economy. Until this summer, the Technion was an idea, a distant place that I could only visualize.

My perspective changed after I heard about the SciTech summer science program for high school students. I decided that a worthwhile and memorable way to spend my summer was to fly to Israel and do research at the institution that is so inextricably tied to my family’s history. The program was the perfect opportunity to experience a taste of science, Israeli culture and the college lifestyle.

From the moment I set foot on campus, I knew that I had made the right choice. First of all, I was amazed by the Technion’s faculty and facilities. It was immediately apparent to me that the Technion is at the core of Israeli innovation and ingenuity. In the SciTech program itself, I was surrounded by a diverse group of 42 brilliant young scientists from countries across the globe – not only Israelis and Americans, but also Jewish and non-Jewish students hailing from Australia, Spain, the UK, Serbia, South Korea and other places. As I befriended these people, I was awash with new cultures, worldviews and perspectives.

Amit (r) with his research team receiving their SciTech diplomas.

The combined intellect of the program’s participants was astounding. Whenever we were together in a group setting, the ideas and creativity seemed to radiate throughout the room. It was clear that I was surrounded by future scientists, engineers and leaders. Each person, as part of a small team, was working on an interesting and sophisticated project from one of many various disciplines, which included chemical engineering, medicine, biomedical engineering, mathematics, and mechanical engineering.

My project was in the field of computer science and dealt with exploring novel applications for an algorithm that matched kidney donors to recipients, among other things. I worked with two colleagues and a faculty mentor, and together we engineered an implementation and application of the algorithm from scratch. The project was a fascinating introduction to the world of theoretical computer science. As a team, we forged a special bond that was strengthened by writing and testing code for 8 hours a day.

Outside of the labs, there was plenty of time to share meaningful experiences with the other participants in the program. One of the most enjoyable parts of the program for me was walking around the Technion campus with my newfound friends, visiting buildings in which my family members had studied, dined, and lived several decades ago. We also engaged in outlandish social activities that brought us all closer together as a group. Soon enough, we became inseparable.

The program was not only confined to the Technion campus. To supplement our experiences and give the non-Israelis a glimpse of Israel, we traveled across the northern half of Israel. We spent free days touring the ancient city of Akko, staying in a kibbutz near the Kinneret, and relaxing on the beach at Rosh Hanikra. Thankfully, the program’s coordinators were able to keep us safe despite the conflict taking place in the southern part of Israel at that time.

After returning home from SciTech, I took some time to reflect upon my experiences amidst the preparations for my senior year of high school. As I packed and organized my school supplies, I recalled all of the memorable experiences and connections that had resulted from this program. I believe that the friendships that I had made and the knowledge that I had gained at SciTech did not end with the final goodbyes at the closing ceremony. Although all of us are now in different parts of the world, the tight bonds between us will likely remain. Not only had I found my roots at the Technion, but I had also planted seeds for the future.


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In the midst of Operation Protective Edge, the ATS sent a delegation to Israel to show solidarity and support for Israel and the Technion. The high-level trip, which took place from August 11-13, provided an insider’s account of the conflict and its impact on the Technion campus and its people. The following three messages were written by Technion International Board of Governors Chairman Larry Jackier and ATS President Scott Leemaster, who, together, headed the delegation.

Monday, August 11:

Greetings from Haifa.

Delegation group

The delegation

Our special American Technion Society Solidarity Delegation to Israel officially began last night, with a dinner and reception with members of the Technion administration at the Dan Carmel Hotel in Haifa. Among those who joined us was President Peretz Lavie, and we were greatly moved when he thanked us and said that it was especially fitting for this gathering of the ATS/Technion family to begin on the eve of the Jewish holiday of Tu B’Av (known as the “holiday of love”), because our mission is one of love, solidarity and friendship to the Technion and Israel.

Today, we learned from Vice President for External Relations and Resource Development Boaz Golany about the effects of the current conflict on the Technion campus, students and faculty. We also toured the campus, and saw tangible ways that the American Technion Society is helping protect our Technion family. We visited labs, where we met brilliant faculty and students helping keep all of Israel safe. And we are learning what is already being done, what remains to be done, and about how we can best stand shoulder to shoulder with our Israeli and Technion family and friends.

We still have many things to do, see and learn over the coming days, and will do our best to keep you updated here and across the ATS communications channels. Thank you for your support, and for following along as we demonstrate our commitment to peace, prosperity and the future of the Technion and Israel.

Tuesday, August 12:

Memorial 2

Laying down a wreath at the grave of Sean Carmeli, an IDF “Lone Soldier” from Texas

Today’s schedule began with a riveting panel presentation at the Dan Carmel Hotel about the effects of the current conflict on Technion students, including the 600 to 700 serving on active duty, and the 350 who are from towns in Israel’s south. Moderated by Sara Katzir, director of the Beatrice Weston Unit for the Advancement of Students, the panel included three students serving on active duty, and another from Israel’s south who has not been called up to serve because of a previous injury.

Helping students with the transitions that occur in times of conflict is one of the main functions of Sara and her team. The Technion, she says, has a high percentage of officers in Israel’s armed forces. And since officers are not allowed to postpone or shorten their reserve duty, abrupt transitions become the norm: “One day you are studying for an exam and worrying about your average. The next day you are on the frontline. And when the war is over, back to studies as if you were never away,” she said.

Assaf Z., a Ph.D. student in chemical engineering, and a major in the Israel Defense Forces armored corps, spoke highly of the Beatrice Weston Unit and the Technion Reservist Student Support Fund, saying that, “…the Technion leads the way in helping and supporting soldiers who do reserve duty. It leads the country, and Sara and her team are national role models.”

Ohad M., an undergraduate student in the Faculty of Computer Engineering, has been staying at his family’s home in Moshav Bat Hadar near Ashkelon since the start of the war to take care of his younger siblings while his parents go out to work. Ashkelon has been hammered constantly by rocket fire from Gaza. Ohad said that Iron Dome— developed by a team comprised mainly of Technion graduates— is making a tremendous difference in the south: “Before Iron Dome it was bingo. We had no real protection.”

Hearing the students’ stories and knowing that ATS support is so critical served to emphasize the importance of this delegation. And the feelings of solidarity run both ways. On behalf of the students, Sara said. “We know that we are not alone when we see you here and feel your support … Thank you for being here and for listening.”

While we’re here in a time of crisis, we were also reminded this morning of the Technion’s seminal contributions to the betterment of the world though science and medicine. During our tour of the Technion Integrative Cancer Research Center in the Technion Faculty of Medicine, we heard presentations from Profs. Amir Orian and Gera Neufeld (from the Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology) about the groundbreaking and lifesaving cancer research being conducted there.

After our departure from the Technion, we visited the Neve David Cemetery in Haifa, for a brief memorial service at the grave of Sean Carmeli, an IDF “Lone Soldier” from Texas who was killed in the current conflict. Surely he is a shining example of what it means to stand shoulder to shoulder with the people of Israel.

Our afternoon agenda included a meeting at the Tel Aviv offices of Elbit, where we met Technion graduate Haim Rousso, Executive Vice President for Engineering and Technology Excellence, and General Reserve Shuki Shichrur, Deputy Commander of the Northern Command, who assisted the Commander of the Southern Command during Operation Protective Edge.

Before arriving at our hotel in Tel Aviv, we stopped at Tel Hashomer Hospital to visit wounded soldiers recuperating in the rehabilitative wing. We brought hugs and gifts and said thank you for defending Israel for the Jewish people in the U.S. and around the world.

And at dinner in Tel Aviv, guest speaker Prof. Uzi Rabi, director of the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Tel Aviv University, offered his views and commentary on the current and complex events in the Middle East.

We’ve experienced much over the past day and a half, but there is still more for us to see, do and learn. Tomorrow, we will spend time in Israel’s south, the region most affected by this conflict. It will surely give us an even deeper understanding of what it means to be in solidarity with our Israeli and Technion family and friends.

Thank you for your support, and for following along as we demonstrate our commitment to peace, prosperity and the future of the Technion and Israel.

Wednesday, August 13:

An Iron Dome battery

An Iron Dome battery

Our final day in Israel began with breakfast and a dialogue with Alon Ben-David, the senior defense correspondent for Israel’s Channel 10, who provided us with an insider’s view of the region’s political and security situation. He also shared Israel’s strategic challenges during Operation Protective Edge.

As has been the case throughout the mission, we saw and experienced things today that filled us with wonder, emotion and pride. Experiences that have forever changed us.

We visited an Iron Dome missile-defense battery in Ashdod, and it was awe-inspiring to actually see the system that has saved so may lives – with the knowledge that it was designed by a group comprised largely of Technion graduates.

In Moshav Netiv HaAssara (located on Israel’s border with the Gaza Strip), we met with two residents who shared the daily struggles they and others face with constant rocket fire and complex security issues while trying to live their lives.

We visited Sderot, another town in the south. At the police station, we saw a huge collection of spent rockets that had fallen in the local area. We also visited a children’s playground where bomb shelters in the shape of caterpillars provide safety for children in the event of a code red alert.

And during it all, we learned ever more about why it is so critical for all of us to stand together with our Israeli and Technion friends and family.

At our final dinner together, we heard from Michael Oren, former ambassador of Israel to the United States, who thanked us for coming and for “what we’ve done in supporting the Technion and Israel.” In so many ways, however, it is we who are thankful for the honor of having experienced all that we have in the last four days.

We’re proud and privileged to have been a part of this solidarity mission, and grateful for all of the people who put their lives on hold to join us. But our mission does not end here. It is our sincere hope that all of us who were here will share our experiences far and wide, and be ambassadors for the Technion and the State of Israel.

If you would like to show your solidarity with Israel and the Technion, please click here to make a tax-deductible gift. 

To view a photo album from the delegation, please click here.


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Hosted annually by MIT, the iGEM competition gives entrepreneurial biotech students a chance to test their mettle. The goal is to set up a mock biotechnology start-up company — from the laboratory and investment capital to a marketing program — and to do it all rapidly and on a shoestring budget.

Two years after bringing home the iGEM gold, the Technion team is once again participating in the competition. The team is led by Rebecca Feldman, who became so energized after hearing a report on the 2012 iGEM competition that she took the lead in building a new team to travel to the U.S. in the fall and hopefully bring home another gold medal.

The Technion team in the lab

“I became really excited about this competition,” said Rebecca, who graduated from the Technion in June. “It touched on my chief research interest, and I also liked the team and community aspects.”

Student teams are given a kit of biological parts at the beginning of the summer. Working throughout the season, they use these parts and new parts of their own design to build biological systems and operate them in living cells. Successful projects produce cells that exhibit new and unusual properties by engineering genes together with mechanisms to regulate their expression. The team of a dozen Technion students spans multiple disciplines, including business management. After “lots of twists and turns,” the team designed an artificial genetic circuit inside a bacterium that detects toxic mercury and specific allergens in food. They used non-pathogenic E. coli bacteria, which is easy to grow and manipulate, and inserted genes that cause the bacteria to turn green when they detect even very low concentrations of toxins or allergens, Rebecca explained, adding that they have “high hopes” that the judges will find their work gold-medal worthy.

Team Leader Rebecca Feldman

Team Leader Rebecca Feldman

When Rebecca was 17, she traveled to Israel on a summer youth tour and immediately realized that this was where she wanted to live. Two years later, she returned, intending to stay— and she has. She volunteered for military service, even though she was exempt, and was placed in the technology division. Here she was exposed to many science and engineering graduates from the Technion and other universities, and became intrigued by their knowledge. Remembering her love of biology in high school, she decided to study biotechnology. And after meeting her future husband in the same unit, who was a happy graduate of the Technion now working at Intel, there seemed to be only a single choice for a university.

No decisions have been made about her next step after graduating, Rebecca said. She may take some time off and then return for an advanced degree, furthering her interest in genetic engineering. But by fall, she’ll be leading the Technion iGEM team, one of 245 international teams and one of two from Israel. Ben Gurion University of the Negev is also sending a team. The two Israeli teams generated their ideas separately, but will rely on each other for refining them.

There will also be outreach efforts. One of the most exciting, said Rebecca, is what’s tentatively called “Synthetic Biology in Three Languages.” The goal is to use science as a common thread to strengthen ties between Haifa’s Israeli and Arab populations; one of the iGEM team members, Faris Horani, is an Arab student who can work on the Arabic language aspect. Other efforts include an initiative to help prepare high school students for next year’s iGEM high school competition.

But whatever the 2014 iGEM team accomplishes, it’s already a success. A new team for 2015 is almost ready to pick up the mantle.

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Olivia Diamond (second row, second from the left) with the TeAMS Class of 2014 standing in front of the medical facility.

The Technion American Medical Students Program (TeAMS) offers an opportunity for qualified U.S. or Canadian pre-med college graduates to earn his or her M.D. degree in the Ruth & Bruce Rappaport Faculty of Medicine while experiencing life in Israel. Since its inception in 1983, hundreds of students have successfully passed the licensing exams to practice in North America.

This year’s TeAMS graduates have done exceptionally well, placing into some of the most prestigious residency programs in the U.S. One such 2014 graduate, Olivia Diamond, 26, of Scarsdale, New York, who will work at the Harvard-affiliated Mount Auburn Hospital in Massachusetts, speaks to us about her experience at the Technion. In addition to her academics, Olivia is an athlete and linguist. Though she is fluent in Swedish and speaks some Norwegian, Spanish, French, Italian and Arabic, her Hebrew was limited to “shalom” when she arrived at the Technion. Olivia, however, is a fast learner.

Congratulations on being matched with Harvard’s Mount Auburn Hospital. That is quite an accomplishment. Can you tell us a bit about what lies ahead?

I’m very excited! Mount Auburn Hospital is a wonderful teaching hospital. It is affiliated with and staffed by Harvard. Getting into any residency program is very competitive, and getting into Harvard’s was particularly tough. I was the only one at my medical program at the Technion to get accepted.

I’ll be in the three-year internal medicine program, which begins on June 23. I’ll be a Clinical Fellow, which is considered a faculty appointment at the Harvard Medical School. The hospital allows medical students to rotate through the department so I will get to see patients as well as do some clinical teaching. This program is a great gateway, giving me the edge to pursue a fellowship when I’m finished. Eventually, I’d like to be a hematologist oncologist — someone who specializes in cancer and other blood-related disorders.


Olivia Diamond on the Technion campus

How was your experience at the TeAMS program? Do you feel prepared for the next step?

I’m really proud to be a future graduate of the Technion. (Graduation is May 12, 2014). The pre-clinical and clinical instruction is fantastic! We were immersed almost immediately into the goings-on of hospital life. We got to watch procedures and shadow doctors on their rounds. In the second year, we went to the hospital twice a week and learned how to take perfect patient histories and physical exams. When the doctors found out that we were from the Technion, they had high expectations and pushed us hard. But I enjoyed the challenge.

Last summer I spent three months as a sub-intern at different hospitals in New York City. My knowledge was as good or better than the other students. And because I had hands-on experience very early on, my clinical thinking and approach to clinical exams was more proficient. I was one of the most adept at putting in IVs and drawing blood.


What made you choose the Technion TeAMS program?

I had always wanted to study abroad while I attended Cornell, but was too busy, so didn’t get the chance. I had never been to Israel, and I’m Jewish, so I felt the connection and thought it would be fantastic to live there for four years. I had heard about the Technion’s reputation in science and engineering but didn’t know that much about the medical program. Once I started looking at medical schools and learned that the Technion required a thesis — a wonderful opportunity to do research — I didn’t look any further.

I did my thesis on the effects of chemotherapy on ovarian function and future fertility, researching a compound that has been shown to block the effects of the chemo in order to spare fertility. I had never before done my own research, compiled data and made my own conclusions, so it was a great experience. I’m looking into the possibility of publishing it.


How did you become interested in medicine?

As a child, I had an obsession with marine life, whales and dolphins. When I was 11, I spent a summer on a small island off Canada at a “whale camp,” and took courses in sea life. I wanted to be a marine biologist.

But I was always an athlete. I played soccer in elementary school and then did track and field and cross-country. Running became my niche, but I developed a condition called exercise-induced compartment syndrome. I was feeling pain and tingling in my legs, and discovered that I was developing muscle and nerve damage. So when I was 15, I had a surgery called a fasciotomy on both of my legs. I was awake through the entire procedure and the surgeon told me step-by-step what she was doing. I thought it was absolutely fascinating and made medicine my goal. Initially I had contemplated going into veterinary
medicine, but then switched because I really wanted to work with people.

It will be nice to get back home, but I wouldn’t trade my experience at the Technion with anyone.

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