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Medicine & Health

Antibacterial fillings from TAU may combat recurring tooth decay

New material may prevent one of the costliest and most prevalent bacterial diseases in the world

Tooth decay is among the costliest and most widespread bacterial diseases. Virulent bacteria cause the acidification of tooth enamel and dentin, which, in turn, causes secondary tooth decay.

A new study by Tel Aviv University researchers finds potent antibacterial capabilities in novel dental restoratives, or filling materials. According to the research, the resin-based composites, with the addition of antibacterial nano-assemblies, can hinder bacterial growth and viability on dental restorations, the main cause of recurrent cavities, which can eventually lead to root canal treatment and tooth extractions.


Research for the study was led by Dr. Lihi Adler-Abramovich and TAU doctoral student Lee Schnaider in collaboration with Prof. Ehud Gazit, Prof. Rafi Pilo, Prof. Tamar Brosh, Dr. Rachel Sarig and colleagues from TAU’s Maurice and Gabriela Goldschleger School of Dental Medicine and George S. Wise Faculty of Life Sciences. It was published in ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces on May 28.


Can your fillings fight germ?

“Antibiotic resistance is now one of the most pressing healthcare problems facing society, and the development of novel antimicrobial therapeutics and biomedical materials represents an urgent unmet need,” says Dr. Adler-Abramovich. “When bacteria accumulate on the tooth surface, they ultimately dissolve the hard tissues of the teeth. Recurrent cavities — also known as secondary tooth decay — at the margins of dental restorations results from acid production by cavity-causing bacteria that reside in the restoration-tooth interface.”


This disease is a major causative factor for dental restorative material failure and affects an estimated 100 million patients a year, at an estimated cost of over $30 billion.


Historically, amalgam fillings composed of metal alloys were used for dental restorations and had some antibacterial effect. But due to the alloys’ bold color, the potential toxicity of mercury and the lack of adhesion to the tooth, new restorative materials based on composite resins became the preferable choice of treatment. Unfortunately, the lack of an antimicrobial property remained a major drawback to their use.


“We’ve developed an enhanced material that is not only aesthetically pleasing and mechanically rigid but is also intrinsically antibacterial due to the incorporation of antibacterial nano-assemblies,” Schnaider says. “Resin composite fillings that display bacterial inhibitory activity have the potential to substantially hinder the development of this widespread oral disease.”


From nano materials to major breakthroughs

The scientists are the first to discover the potent antibacterial activity of the self-assembling building block Fmoc-pentafluoro-L-phenylalanine, which comprises both functional and structural subparts. Once the researchers established the antibacterial capabilities of this building block, they developed methods for incorporating the nano-assemblies within dental composite restoratives. Finally, they evaluated the antibacterial capabilities of composite restoratives incorporated with nanostructures as well as their biocompatibility, mechanical strength and optical properties.


“This work is a good example of the ways in which biophysical nanoscale characteristics affect the development of an enhanced biomedical material on a much larger scale,” Schnaider says.


“The minimal nature of the antibacterial building block, along with its high purity, low cost, ease of embedment within resin-based materials and biocompatibility, allows for the easy scale-up of this approach toward the development of clinically available enhanced antibacterial resin composite restoratives,” Dr. Adler-Abramovich says.

The researchers are now evaluating the antibacterial capabilities of additional minimal self-assembling building blocks and developing methods for their incorporation into various biomedical materials, such as wound dressings and tissue scaffolds.

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Tel Aviv University

The 50th International Physics Olympiad has opened in Tel Aviv

Hosted and academically managed by the School of Physics and Astronomy

78 delegations of high school students from all over the world have arrived in Tel Aviv to display their talents in experimental and theoretical physics and to compete for the prestigious medals.

The event, from 7-15 of July, is being led by Prof. Alexander Palevski of the School of Physics and Astronomy, with the dedicated assistance of academic, technical, and administrative staff from the School, from Tel-Aviv University for Youth, and from the Ministry of Education.

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Politics & Society

Are American Jews and Israel growing apart?

The Center for the Study of the United States at TAU teams up with the American Jewish Committee (AJC) to explore the shifting attitudes of American Jews toward Israel

Over a third of American Jews don’t think that “Caring about Israel” is important to their Jewish identity, a quarter of them don’t believe that a thriving State of Israel is even vital for the long-term future of the Jewish people, those under the age of 30 are increasingly indifferent to Israel, and nearly two-thirds of American Jews disapprove of the Trump administration’s handling of US-Israel relations – while over two-thirds of Israelis strongly approve. These are just a handful of the surprising findings from the American Jewish Committee’s (AJC) comprehensive opinion survey of American Jews unveiled earlier this month at a special event at Tel Aviv University.


As part of the commitment of the newly founded Center for the Study of the United States in Partnership with the Fulbright Program to advancing the study of the United States in Israel, it organized a special symposium that was aimed at exploring the increasingly strained relationship between Israel and American Jews and pondering its possible causes, implications and consequences.


In collaboration with the AJC and TAU’s Stephen Roth Institute for the Study of Contemporary Anti-Semitism and Racism, the event, titled “A Cause for Concern? New Trends in the Relationship between American Jews and Israel,” took place on the Tel Aviv University campus. Bringing together a range of scholars, policymakers, journalists, students and the general public, over 80 people were in attendance to listen to a series of talks, presentations and panel debates that included:

A presentation of the survey findings by AJC’s Israel director, Lt. Col. (res.) Avital Leibovich. “One of the survey’s most concerning findings is that more than a third of the respondents don’t consider Israel of any importance to their Jewish identity,” said Leibovich. “This survey is yet another reminder of the widening gap between Israel and the American Jewish community. I hope that the many parties competing in our upcoming election will make it a priority to address this issue.”

A Panel analyzing the survey results featuring former Israeli Member of Knesset Rachel Azaria (“Kulanu” Party), and Jonathan Karp, Professor of History and Judaic Studies at the State University of New York (SUNY) at Binghamton. “The AJC survey suggests that most American Jews strongly support Israel but are disturbed by many of its policies and feel entitled to exert their influence to change them,” said Prof. Karp. “American Jews understand that their own American government plays a vital role in supporting Israel. Like it or not, Israel and the Diaspora are inextricably linked, and yet their interests are far from entirely compatible or necessarily aligned.” 

A pioneering data science project sponsored and supervised by the Center for the Study of the United States that used Big Data-driven sentiment analysis to try and gauge the press coverage of Israel in the Jewish-American media. Its key finding: Israel has increasingly become a source of friction and a polarizing issue for many Jewish American communities.

A Q&A between Professor Yossi Shain, Head of Tel Aviv University’s School of Government and Policy, and Attila Somfalvi, the chief political commentator for YNET (Israel’s most widely read news site). Prof. Shain discussed his bestselling new book, The Israeli Century, claiming that despite some of the survey’s distressing results, the overall state of relations between Israel and America’s Jews is sound and stable. “In the Israeli century, at a time when Israel is increasingly becoming the dominant factor in determining the future of the Jewish people, it must also be more attentive to the feelings of American Jewry,” said Prof. Shain. “We must communicate with American Jews as family members. We must make great effort not to alienate them, and to help them retain their bonds to Israel and to Judaism.”

“.The event received wide attention on social media and was featured in Yediot Aharonoth (Israel’s most widely circulated newspaper) on June 13 under the headline “A Cause for Concern: A Quarter of American Jews say Israel is not vital for the survival of the Jewish Nation 


“There are few issues of such personal, national and emotional import and consequence for the Israeli public as the relationship with the United States in general, and with American Jews in particular. But something is happening to that relationship and it’s our responsibility as scholars to find out what,” said Dr. Yoav Fromer, the head of the Center for the Study of the United States, who moderated the conference. “That is why our Center is dedicated to promoting events such as these and sponsoring innovative research in this important field: not only does it help inform the Israeli public about the complexities of American society, but it does so in a bold way that raises difficult questions – sometimes even uncomfortable ones – in an effort to facilitate debate and stimulate a more honest conversation that could bring us closer together by helping us to better understand each other,” Dr. Fromer said.



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Tel Aviv University

TAU one of top 20 universities worldwide in scientific impact

QS World University Rankings assess performance of over 1,000 universities in 82 locations worldwide

The 16th edition of the QS World University Rankings, released this month by higher education analysts QS Quacquarelli Symonds, revealed that Tel Aviv University has broken into the world’s top 20 universities for “Citations per Faculty,” which measures the impact of research produced by faculty members. Among the six Israeli universities represented in this year’s rankings, TAU also most improved its overall position from last year, rising 11 places to rank 219th out of 1,001 universities surveyed.


TAU also achieved the highest mark in Israel for “Employer Reputation,” ranking 235th globally in this indicator.


The rankings are produced by the global higher education consultancy QS Quacquarelli Symonds and provide assessments of the world’s top 1,000 universities. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology was named the world’s leading institution of higher learning for the eighth consecutive year.


One of the world’s top 100 universities

According to Ben Sowter, director of research at QS, “Israel is one of the world’s most innovative nations, and one of the most prolific for research output as measured by number of scientific papers per million citizens. It also boasts one of the highest ratios of scientists and technicians among the employed population, underlying its status as a world-class tech hub whose competitive edge is also attributable to the quality of research produced by its leading universities.


“Being home to one of the world’s top 100 universities for citations per faculty metric, which measures the productivity and impact of research faculty, is testament to this outstanding infrastructure.”

The universities were assessed according to feedback provided by 94,000 academics and 44,000 hiring managers; 11.8 million research papers; 100 million citations; and trends in the distribution of 23 million students and 2 million faculty



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Arts & Culture

From VR to the migrant crisis at TAU’s international film festival

International students, filmmakers and glitterati attend to 21st edition of the TAU student film festival, held throughout the city of Tel Aviv

The Tel Aviv International Student Film Festival — one of the largest and most influential student film festivals in the world, according to CILECT, the International Association of Film and Television Schools — celebrated its 21st edition on June 16-22 at the Tel Aviv Cinematheque.


“This year we stressed the tension between traditional forms of filmmaking and the inventive storytelling of the digital age we are in,” says Mya Kaplan, co-director of this year’s festival with Talia Wigoder. “While most of the films screened were ‘traditional’ in the sense that an audience is watching artwork on a screen, many student filmmakers employed cutting-edge technology that afforded audience members the opportunity to truly experience the stories as they unfolded. This technology might be a 360-degree camera that twirls the spectator around or 3D animation, or virtual reality. We are a new generation of filmmakers who fall right in between traditional and future modes of storytelling.”


“We embarked on two new events at the festival this year that showcase how the digital age allows artists to tell their stories in new, bright and interesting ways,” Wigoder adds. “The International Digital Media Exhibition and Competition allows visitors to physically enter a film through virtual reality technology and artificial intelligence. Technology allows spectators to sit up from their seats and immerse themselves in the creative process. The Experimental Film Competition showcases films that question the position of contemporary art, of fundamental cultural concepts, without providing any answers.”


The only school where filmmakers own their work

The festival was founded in 1986 by students from Tel Aviv University’s Steve Tisch School of Film and Television and is now an annual event supported by the Tel Aviv-Yafo Municipality, the Israel Film Council and TAU. The Tisch School is the only film school in the world where student filmmakers own the rights to their student films. The School’s admission policy is equally unique. All qualified applicants — high school graduates with appropriate college entrance exam scores, etc. — are admitted to the first-year BFA program. Sixty-five students are invited to continue to the second year, after faculty and lecturers have had the opportunity to gauge the quality and artistic merit of their work.


Still from Adi Mishnayot’s film “Image of Victory”


TAU President Prof. Ariel Porat, Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai, Head of the Tisch School Prof. Raz Yosef and others paid homage to festival participants and organizers in a video screened during the opening ceremony at Jaffa’s HaPisga Garden.


“The increasing global impact of the Tisch School is demonstrated not only by the wide pull of the Festival, but also by our outstanding showing on the international stage,” Prof. Porat says.


“Last year, Tisch students presented their films at 312 screenings in over 30 countries and received 68 awards from major venues such as Locarno and Jerusalem,” Prof. Porat adds. “This year the Tisch School launched an English-language International MFA Program in Documentary Cinema, a particular strength in Israel that we can now export and leverage for additional partnerships with top institutions abroad.”


Over 100 student films 

Prize-winning films included Andreas Muggli’s Hamama and Caluna (The International Competition); Adi Mishnayot’s Image of Victory (The Israeli Competition); Lee Gilat’s Committed (The Short Independent Competition); Yair Bartal and Nofar Laor’s Not All Those Who Wander Are Lost (The Digital Media Competition); and Or Arieli’s Billboard (The Experimental Film & Video Competition).


Still from Lee Gilat’s film “Committed”


This year’s festival showcased more than 100 short films from 28 countries and drew more than 100 film students, filmmakers and directors from around the world for special screenings, master classes and cultural pop-up events across the city. The festival’s unique Film Bus, a traveling theater that brings the short films to all parts of the country, made its eighth nationwide circuit.


In addition, the festival, in cooperation with Israeli fashion house Renuar, emphasized the special connection between cinema and fashion. A variety of fashion-centric lectures by designers and international stylists and screenings of fashion films were held across the city. Master classes held by members of the Israel Screenwriting Guild and the Makor Hebrew Foundation on how to make films outside the film school framework were among the best-attended festival events.

Featured image: A still from Andreas Muggli’s winning film “Hamama and Caluna”


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