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Understanding the Brain: Research and Technology in Israel

In the past few years, Israel has seen an exponential growth in scientific research and technological developments aimed at understanding and enhancing the human experience via brain research.

Thanks to the proliferation of virtually free computing, connectivity, and sensing, researchers and industry can now develop and deliver digitalized personal assessments. Such fertile ground has created exciting advancements in mobile health and medicine in Israel. 

Currently, many medical device and pharmaceutical companies are involved in the brain arena, covering a wide range of technologies to treat neurological and psychiatric disorders, and other applications related to the brain. This technological research field, which influences how people understand the brain and human thought, including various aspects of improving and repairing brain function, is defined as Neurotechnology.

The personalized biological imprints available today are instrumental in answering many central questions in medicine. One inspiring researcher in the brain tech scene is Michal Schnaider Beeri, PhD, Associate Professor of Psychiatry, whose research focuses on the effect of diabetes medications on brain insulin signaling and Alzheimer’s neuropathology. Other researchers, such as Oren Shriki, PhD, who established the Computational Psychiatry Lab at Ben Gurion University of the Negev, use mathematical analyses of brain activity to develop novel diagnostic tools and computational models for neurological and psychiatric disorders.

While researchers are typically more interested in understanding biological processes in the brain, the industry’s approach is often more focused on clinical outcomes and practical applications. Companies such as Aidoc use artificial intelligence to improve the workflow of radiologists who diagnose scans, improving accuracy and shortening time, thus helping release the huge bottleneck in this arena. Mediators between research and industry, such as Joy Ventures, a privately funded investment company, promote innovation in neuro-wellness by supporting entrepreneurs, scientific research and an interdisciplinary community of thinkers dedicated to harnessing technology and science to create consumer products that help people live happier lives.

Other players in the brain tech and research scene are conferences such as BrainTech 2019, which took place on March 4-5 in Tel Aviv. The conference is aimed at gathering players in the brain tech and research scene  to showcase current breakthroughs in the field and to discuss where the field is headed, alongside opportunities and challenges in brain innovation.This, along with fostering new collaborations, could ultimately lead to vast improvements in individuals’ lives.