Bar-Ilan University’s Faculty of Medicine in the Galilee and the University of Miami’s Miller School of Medicine have signed a landmark agreement which will further promote collaboration between the two institutions.
The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), signed recently at the Israel Business Conference in Tel Aviv, will allow the two medical schools to continue their collaboration on a wide variety of projects.
The MOU was signed by Bar-Ilan Faculty of Medicine Dean Prof. Ran Tur-Kaspa and Miller School of Medicine Dean Pascal J. Goldschmidt, M.D.
Over the coming months the two institutions will explore the joint development of a cancer center which will integrate scientific research conducted by basic, translational and clinical faculty.
The two institutions will further seek to establish scholarly scientific discourse by advancing cooperation with key US and international organizations for purposes of conducting translational and clinical research across borders.
Additionally, they will work to establish strong links with the University of Miami Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center (SCCC) to facilitate scientific, educational and clinical collaboration, and to develop a state-of-the-art graduate program in cancer biology.
“Bar-Ilan University President Prof. Moshe Kaveh and I are very proud of the valuable ties we have established with the University of Miami in general and its world-class medical school in particular,” said Prof. Ran Tur-Kaspa.
“UM President Donna Shalala, Dean Goldschmidt and the entire team – including the Miller School’s Joseph Rosenblatt, M.D., and Michael Lewis, M.D. – have demonstrated a deep, ongoing commitment to ensuring that our Faculty become an international powerhouse of medicine and technology in the Galilee.
Dean Goldschmidt said the collaboration would allow the University of Miami to expand its reach and reputation and showcase its expertise in Israel, where UM already has strong ties and interests.
“Having this relationship in Israel and being able to collaborate and exchange students and faculty will positively impact our reputation and what we can accomplish as a medical school and as a university,” he said.
Two weeks ago, Dr. Tal Ben-Shahar visited the second grade class in which his son is a pupil. He read the children the book “Thomas and Me,” which he cowrote with the psychologist, writer and musician Shirly Yuval-Yair. The children laughed, got carried away and asked questions that only children know how to ask. In the car on the way back, Ben-Shahar’s eyes welled up with tears from the intensity of the experience. “I give a lot of lectures,” he said − he is one of the most sought-after speakers on the subject of positive psychology in Israel and abroad, and regularly filled Sanders Theater, the largest lec–ture hall at Harvard, when he taught there − “but I don’t remember when I was so moved.”
There was a time, in the remote past, when Ben-Shahar did not cry so easily. Nor did he allow himself to externalize his feelings. His introverted nature is still part of his psychic makeup. “Our neuroses do not disappear completely, they only become less dominant,” he says with a smile, quoting Karen Horney, the German psychiatrist and psychoanalyst. These days, Ben-Shahar lectures in positive psychology and leadership at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya.
His writing partner, Yuval-Yair, is the complete opposite: a walking explosion of energy with an infectious laugh. She fuses stage lights with the light of the mind. As a psychologist, she treats patients with the aid of poetry; and as a musician, writer and playwright for children, she draws on psychological tools.
Yuval-Yair’s works include “The Wonderful Laugh Machine” and “Do Re Mooo.” She also appears with the actress Sagit Emet-Shirai in a musical, “When You Grow Up, You’ll Understand,” about a journey in the life of a woman. Ben-Shahar and Yuval-Yair are currently also collaborating in leading happiness workshops.
Like most working parents, we scheduled our last meeting for “after the kids are in bed” − around 9:30 P.M. Dishes holding the remnants of the children’s supper are still on the table in Ben-Shahar’s home in Ramat Hasharon. “There’s some pasta left,” he offers politely, “and remainders of vegetables” from the meal eaten by Ben-Shahar’s three children: David, 8, Shirel, 5, and Eliav, 3.
The cucumber slices look exactly like the ones I left in my house less than an hour ago. Yuval-Yair asks if she can have a pita with hummus and calls home to make sure everything is alright. Her older daughter is babysitting for the younger ones.
“It was quiet when I left, everyone was in bed,” she sighs, “but the moment I left they came out of their holes.” She would later describe herself as “a confident psychologist and perplexed mother” to Roni, 12, Gili, 9, and Yahali, 5.
Ben-Shahar and Yuval-Yair are currently celebrating the publication of two children’s books they coauthored: “Thomas and Me” and “Helen and Me.” The books (in Hebrew) are the first in a series called “True Heroes,” in which young readers and − no less important − their parents will learn about people in the past who coped with a difficulty by invoking one of the principles of positive psychology.
In the rhyming books the readers meet the Hermon family: mom, dad, the firstborn daughter Yael, the middle child Yoni, and the littlest, Yoav. In “Thomas and Me,” Yoni is a washout at school. His mother tells him about Thomas Edison, “a boy who was an expert at mistakes, a champion at flubs, a genius at blunders.” Years later, Edison’s many failures lead to the invention of the first incandescent light bulb, the first recording device and another thousand patents. “I’ll tell you a secret,” Yoni’s mother says to him in moments of crisis. “Learn how not to succeed, or you won’t succeed in learning.”
The heroine of the second book, about whom the Hermon children hear when they are stuck in a dark cave during a family outing, is Helen Keller, who at 19 months lost both her sense of sight and hearing but went on to lead a deeply satisfying life. The Hermon children learn that “It’s like a magic trick that works: when you move ahead with what you’ve got, you find out you’ve got a lot!”
“We chose the mechanism of coping for each hero,” Yuval-Yair notes. “The idea was first of all to tell a good story, with a message, and connect it to us. I know the child who’s entering the first grade and mixes up all the letters, and I know the guys who go on an outing every Saturday with their parents and never stop grumbling that it’s boring. In the books, we try to bring in the major tools afforded by positive psychology, tools that will help create psychological resilience.”