Inauguration of the Center
The inauguration of the Edmond J. Safra Center for Bioinformatics took place on June 5, 2012 at Tel Aviv University (TAU).
Since 2005, the activity of the Edmond J. Safra Bioinformatics Program, which promotes excellence in research and education in bioinformatics at TAU, was made possible by a generous donation from the Edmond J. Safra Foundation. Now, thanks to another generous donation from the Foundation, the new Center has been established in place of the Program.
Over the past few decades, important developments in science and technology have led to a massive influx of genomic information, a key to diagnosing and treating disease. This, in turn, has created a need for algorithms and software to analyze vast amounts of data and clarify complex patterns. “The wealth of knowledge available requires advanced computational methods,” explained Edmond J. Safra PhD fellow, Livnat Jerby, at the inauguration of the Edmond J. Safra Center for Bioinformatics at TAU. “Bioinformatics is revolutionizing biomedical research.” At the inauguration of the Center, attended by over 150 people, Jerby spoke about her important research made possible by the Edmond J. Safra Philanthropic Foundation. Her current project focuses on identifying new drug targets for killing cancer cells without harming healthy ones. Edmond J. Safra PhD fellow, David Amar, also gave a presentation on his research to understand the origins of Parkinson’s disease using bioinformatics methods.
TAU President Prof. Joseph Klafter started his inaugural address with a statistic: 12,000. “That’s the number of downloads of a certain software tool developed by the bioinformatics team at TAU for the analysis of gene expression,” he explained. “What this means is that thousands of laboratories and researchers around the world are using software created here for their biomedical research.”
President Klafter also spoke of TAU’s pioneering role in the interdisciplinary study of bioinformatics, with over 20 research groups across the campus combining their expertise in computer science, life sciences, basic medical research and hospital studies.
Presenting a certificate to Mrs. Lily Safra, who founded the Center in honor of her late husband and devoted philanthropist Mr. Edmond J. Safra, President Klafter thanked her for her vision in expanding and upgrading the Program into a Center during a time where the need for bioinformatics solutions to cure devastating diseases is ever more pressing. The new funding will reinforce TAU’s role as a leader in the development of novel drugs and biomedical technologies to alleviate suffering and save lives.
In response, Mrs. Safra praised the achievements of TAU researchers and students and explained, “Over the past seven years, we have been proud to be your partner in developing this program into a truly world-class research center. Your innovative and exciting work represents the future of medicine, and it is a privilege for us to be associated with it.”
The Edmond J. Safra Center for Bioinformatics is headed by Prof. Ron Shamir of the Blavatnik School of Computer Science at the Raymond and Beverly Sackler Faculty of Exact Sciences.