The excellent, ongoing cooperation between the frontline researchers at the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and the Soroka University Medical Center is extremely fruitful, producing many different types of medical and therapeutic solutions for human ailments. On any given year ca.300 clinical studies are approved and ca.500 are in the process of being conducted. As such, the establishment of B.G. Negev Technologies and Applications Ltd. (BGNTA, founded 1978), to link adacemia with industry, has helped by taking practical, pioneering BGU academic research from the laboratory into the international marketplace. A few examples follow:
Based on spearheading research initally done in 2006 by BGU professors Yaffa Mizrachi-Nebebzahl and Ron Dagan, in 2015, BGNTA and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) developed a universal protein-based vaccine to prevent Streptococcal pneumonia and inner ear infections (Pneumovas23, PPSV23) that is recommended for children and people over 65.
Based on cutting-edge research done in 2006 by BGU Prof. Rachel Levy, now in 2017, BGNTA and BioLineRx have reached the preclinical trials stage with BL-6040, a bioengineered drug that may be able to effectively treat painful rheumatic conditions and infections.
In 2007, the cooperation between Prof. Ohad Birk, then at the Soroka Genetics Institute, and Prof. Shoshana Arad at the National Institute for Biotechnology in the Negev (NIBN, located at BGU) led to the identification of the defective gene responsible for severe infantile neuronal degeneration. Prof. Birk‘s team also isolated the gene responsible for the occurrence of psoriasis and seborrhea.
Novel surgical procedures are also constantly being developed and improved, for example: a revolutionary technique was created (2006-2007) by the Soroka Spinal Cord Unit for replacing damaged spinal discs with artificial ones, effectively reducing the recovery time, and for securing slipped discs and vertebrae, thus alleviating the severe back pain.
Another outstanding collaboration (existing since 1998) is between the Soroka Medical School of International Health (MSIH) and the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. A 4-year, North-American-style accredited English-language M.D. program specializing in global medicine is given in Be’er-Sheva. 90% of the MSIH 2017 graduating class got high residency match rates, equal to the top U.S. medical schools.
In 2007, the Soroka University Medical Center also signed an agreement with the “Beth Israel” Hospital in New York to exchange medical information and technology for the benefit of both institutions.
The private “Assuta” (lit., health) Hospital in Be’er-Sheva (situated in Migdal Sheva on Rager Blvd., adjacent to the Main Post Office and facing the Israel Electric Company) practices the most advanced medical techniques and has, for example: a special sleep clinic devoted to the research, diagnosis & treatment of sleep disorders, such as snoring or sleep apnea; a pain clinic devoted to the alleviation of pain; modern surgical facilities that do bloodless, corrective laser eye surgeries; and can cure tennis elbow by means of arterioscopy.
In 2017, the Soroka University Medical Center treated ca.18,000 cancer patients (750 of them children). In April 2018, Prof. Itzhak Avital, a leading Jewish-American surgical oncologist (who was born in 1965 at the Soroka Medical Center) will be returning to the Soroka Medical Center in Be’er-Sheva to serve as the Executive Medical Director of the new, world-class Soroka Cancer Center. In his words: “Once our center opens, Tel-Aviv will become a peripheral place for cancer treatment.”
Emeritus Prof. Robert (Haim) Belmaker (b.1947-) was a senior member of the BGU Dept. of Psychiatry from 1985 and the Associate Director of the Be’er-Sheva Mental Health Center (1994-2012). Since 2013, he has been serving as the President of the International Neuropsychiatric Association (INA) and also of the Israel Psychiatric Association since 2015. He was awarded a number of prestigious prizes for his research on the use of fatty acids, such as Omega-3, to alleviate clinical depressions.
In 2006, doctors Moni Y. Magrisso (b.1956-, at BGU from 1999) and Robert S. Marks (b.1961-, at BGU since 1995) at the BGU National Institute for Biotechnology in the Negev developed a revolutionary new type of biosensor, an optical biopen called “PhagoLum” that can identify the type of pathogen causing an infection, distinguishing between viruses, bacteria & fungi.