As Pandemic Persists, TAU Forges Ahead with COVID-19 Research on All Fronts

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The University’s Center for Combating Pandemics leads research efforts in a range of fields.

As the COVID-19 pandemic nears the end of a second year, Tel Aviv University is maintaining its fast pace of scientific discovery in the global battle against coronavirus.  

Building on the University’s innovation record, TAU in 2020 launched the Center for Combating Pandemics. The Center harnesses the collective power of academia, hospitals, government and industry to promote research and guide government policy. It is the first entity of its kind in Israel, and potentially the world.  

Members of the Center include more than 100 research groups comprised of top TAU experts from all scientific disciplines across campus. Among them, over 60 researchers have, until now, conducted projects related to COVID-19. 

Academic Powerhouse

To date, the Center’s members have published findings from dozens of COVID-19 studies. Select examples include: 

Prof. Noam Shomron (Medicine) spearheaded a novel approach to remote monitoring of COVID-19 patients that flags early cardiovascular warnings of worsening health. More here.  

Prof. Shoshana Shiloh (Social Sciences) and team devised a model to determine the psychological and social factors that predict who will voluntarily take the COVID-19 vaccine.  

Prof. Dan Yamin’s (Engineering) lab developed a “big data” COVID-19 detection technology that could be used to reduce viral spread and help shape more efficient testing policy. More here.  

Prof. Isaac Sasson (Engineering) led a study to help improve understanding of COVID-19 mortality and age in countries with limited data. More here.  

A team led by Prof. Saharon Rosset (Exact Sciences) built a statistical model to better understand SARS-CoV-2 evolution and to predict future mutations of the virus, particularly those which lead to new variants. 

Prof. Aeyal Gross (Law) and team examined legal and public health implications of Israel’s “Green Pass” proof-of-vaccination rules under the country’s pandemic response. More here.  

Through big data methods, Prof. Tal Pupko’s (Life Sciences, Shmunis School) found that the swift implementation of lockdowns, rather than their strictness, was more effective in reducing COVID-19 mortality rates. More here.  

New Findings on the Horizon

Currently, the TAU researchers from the Center have approximately 30 ongoing coronavirus projects, including:  

Prof. Dan Peer (Life Sciences), TAU Vice President for Research & Development, is exploring best practices to advance the bourgeoning technology behind non-viral mRNA vaccines. 

Prof. Adi Stern’s (Life Sciences, Shmunis) lab has been studying the evolution of SARS-CoV-2, including the origin and behavior of the Omicron variant. More here.  

Prof. Ron Shamir (Exact Sciences) has teamed up with local hospitals to explore early predictors of deterioration in COVID-19 patients using machine-learning and “big data” methods. 

Prof. Yael Benyamini (Social Sciences) is leading a broad study on pregnancy and childbirth that surveyed the concerns of pregnant women about childbearing amid COVID-19. 

Prof. Miri Yemini (Humanities) & Dr. Efrat Blumenfeld (Arts) are leading an urban-sociological examination of remote teaching and learning during times of social distancing. 

Upcoming Events

In March, the Center plans to hold its first international conference to highlight recent COVID-19 research. The event will also recognize trailblazing research fellows and grant recipients. For registration and updates, visit: https://en-pandemics.tau.ac.il/save-the-date-first-tccp-convention .

Featured News: More than 100 research groups from all scientific disciplines across TAU campus are on the frontlines of the pandemic battle. (Photo: Moshe Bedarshi)

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