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Israeli researchers this week received a flood of ERC grants - the European Research Council

Among others: three ERC grants were awarded to three researchers from Tel Aviv University, three from the Hebrew University - some of them for the third time, four from the Technion and one researcher from the University of Haifa. Grant value: 2 million euros per researcher

In recent days, four universities in Israel have published the fact of awarding research grants from ERC - the European Research Council. This is a prestigious grant worth 2 million euros for each researcher. It should be noted that Israel has been a member since the early XNUMXs of the European research programs currently active in Horizon Europe, and budgets for it, and therefore Israeli researchers can also receive competitive grants from this fund.

Tel Aviv University

The winners from Tel Aviv University: Prof. Dan Parr, Prof. Dafna Yoel and Prof. Yaniv Assaf.

In a statement on behalf of the ERC, it was stated that Prof. Dan Parr, the vice president for research and development and the head of the nanomedicine laboratory, won a grant for his research on circular RNA treatment of Duchenne muscular dystrophy.

 Prof. Dafna Yoel, from the School of Psychological Sciences and the Sagol School of Neuroscience, won a grant for her research on moving beyond the gender binary.

Prof. Yaniv Assaf, from the School of Neurobiology in the Faculty of Life Sciences and the Sagol School of Neuroscience won a grant for his research on examining the changes in brain mechanisms when learning a skill outside of a laboratory environment.

The ERC grant, distributed annually by the European Union, is considered one of the most prestigious and important research grants in the world of science. The ERC was founded in 2007 as a funding and sponsoring body for outstanding and ground-breaking research from all over Europe. The purpose of the competitive grant for advanced research is to support outstanding and leading researchers in their field from all areas of academic research.

Prof. Dan Parr, one of the winners who currently serves as the Vice President for Research and Development at Tel Aviv University explains: "Tel Aviv University is home to leading researchers in many diverse fields, and I am proud to be one of them. Alongside me, two first-rate researchers won a grant for advanced research, and I am sure that the grant will allow them to move the world of science forward. "

The Hebrew University

Three researchers from the Hebrew University will receive prestigious research grants from the European Commission, among them a male and a female researcher who is their third grant winner

Prof. Orna Koperman from the School of Engineering and Computer Science, Prof. Zvi Piran and Prof. Natalie Laban from the Rakah Institute of Physics of the Hebrew University join the list of winners of the prestigious ERC Consolidator grant, which is awarded annually to researchers who have gained 7-12 years of experience after receiving their doctorate and who present promising achievements brilliant. For Prof. Piren and Prof. Laban, this is the third time they have won the prestigious grant - a rare event that testifies to the global importance of the research they lead.

Prof. Orna Koperman's research deals with the automatic production of systems based on the description of their desired behavior. Instead of planning a complete system from the ground up, we can plan only specifications for it and with the push of a button get a perfect system. "This idea is not new, but the research I lead will produce a correct and high-quality system in an automatic process just as humans produce manually", the researcher shares. The study suggests using multi-valued specifications that give each behavior a numerical score, rather than a binary one as is currently customary in the market. In combination with game theory, considerations such as the size of the new system, the energy it consumes, the number of sensors needed and the level of privacy it maintains, together help design a more efficient and accurate system.

Prof. Nathalie Laban's research aims to understand the behavior of the individual bacterium as a complex system, using tools from statistical physics. It turns out that bacteria in "stress" situations, in which they find themselves on the verge of death, can be described as a chaotic system. The research suggests developing tools to deeply understand the disturbed state of the bacteria and predict their behavior. For example, the researcher found that precisely in the disrupted state, the bacteria are protected against antibiotics. Understanding the disordered chaotic situation may have concrete consequences for finding more effective drug treatments - possibly even for cancer.

Finally, Prof. Zvi Piren's research deals with astronomical phenomena where the conditions are extreme and completely different from those existing on Earth. Conditions such as very high temperatures and extremely strong magnetic fields are sometimes created in the vicinity of black holes. Prof. Piren shares that "The essence of research is a search for laws of nature that are unknown to us today and that cannot be discovered in laboratories on Earth. The current research focuses on jets of matter that are accelerated to speeds close to the speed of light through black holes." According to the researcher, although such jets have been seen in a series of astronomical observations, their basic characteristics are not clear. The ambition is to understand how such jets are created and affect the basic laws of nature on Earth in the universe.

The Technion

Four researchers from the Technion won the prestigious ERC Consolidator grants. This is an annual record for the Technion in this track. The grants of the European Research Commission (ERC) are considered the flagship for encouraging excellence in science under the framework program for research and development Horizon Europe. They are designed to support researchers who come up with pioneering and ground-breaking research ideas in the stages of forming the research team and the work plan. The total grant - about 2 million euros for each researcher.

And these are the grant winners:

Prof. Anat Levin from the Viterbi Faculty of Electrical and Computer Engineering Receives the grant for SpeckleCorr - a new technology for characterization of materials, for fluorescent imaging in the depth of biological tissue and more. This technology is expected to have an impact in medicine as well as in the analysis and creation of materials.

Prof. Moran Berkovich from the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering Receives the grant for Fluidic Shaping - a new concept that utilizes the basic physics of fluids to create complex optical components of any size (from millimeters to meters) with sub-nanometer surface quality, without the need for mechanical processes such as milling or polishing. The success of the method may lead to a revolution in the field of optics production both on Earth and in space.

Prof. Gal Shmuel from the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering Receives the grant for XCEPTIONAL - an innovative theory for the development of metamaterials: engineered materials with properties that are not found in natural materials. Prof. Shmuel focuses on dynamic metamaterials designed to control elastic and acoustic waves. These metamaterials have a very wide application potential in noise reduction, energy harvesting, medical imaging, camouflage and more

Prof. Eitan Jacobi from the Taub Faculty of Computer Sciences Gets the grant on DNAStorage. DNA storage is an innovative approach that is expected to revolutionize information storage while dramatically reducing the storage volume, keeping the information very long-term and significantly reducing the energy and economic cost. The technology developed by Prof. Jacobi is expected to accelerate the achievement of this important technological goal.

ERC Consolidator grants are given to outstanding researchers of any age and nationality, who have gained between seven and 12 years of experience after receiving their doctorate and who present achievements that indicate their bright future. The research must be conducted in a public or private research body operating in one of the EU countries or in one of the countries associated with the program. The funding - up to 2 million euros per grant, and sometimes another million euros to support the purchase of unique equipment or the use of dedicated infrastructures - is given for five years and mainly covers the cost of hiring the winning researchers and other staff members in order to consolidate the research teams.

"This is a new Technion record and an impressive academic achievement especially considering the fact that the number of submissions increased in 2021 by 25%," he said The Vice President of the Technion for Research Prof. Kobi Rubinstein. "ERC grants are competitive grants designed to support pioneering research and development. The winners show excellence in a wide variety of fields - biological and medical imaging, innovative optics, materials engineering and information storage in biological molecules. The current news comes shortly after nine researchers from the Technion have already won ERC grants this year, which is a great pride for the Technion. These wins will promote the winning researchers and the Technion's international prestige."

Haifa University

The personal research grant, one of the most important of the European Union's grants, the ERC Consolidator in the amount of approximately 2 million euros, was awarded to Prof. Arna Rabinovitch-Aini from the Faculty of Law at the University of Haifa for the purpose of research on the subject: automation of dispute resolution procedures. Prof. Rabinovitch-Eini is the only winner of the grant among 13 Israeli researchers, who comes from the field of social sciences and humanities. "One of our central social institutions, the justice system, is changing from end to end. An institution that was founded on judgment and human involvement transfers part of its weight to the technological layer and we need to examine what the consequences of this move are on the ability to reach just results at the end of the day and experience fair procedures," said Prof. Rabinovitch-Aini.

            Will in the distant - or near - future we get to court and instead of a judge, a computer algorithm will decide the verdict? In recent years, Prof. Rabinowitz-Eini's research has focused on the use of online systems in conflict resolution. This process began in the last decade, gained momentum during the corona epidemic, and takes place to a large extent on trading platforms such as eBay and AliExpress where algorithms decide disputes between sellers and buyers. However, it turns out that today, there are places in the United States and various European countries where algorithms are already taking part in resolving disputes in the courts and administrative tribunals, mainly in traffic cases, small claims, neighbor disputes and even family disputes.

As part of the ERC's prestigious research grant, Prof. Rabinovitch-Eini will focus on examining three existing platforms in the United States and Europe and at a later stage on another platform currently under development in Israel. "In light of the fact that technological means are taking a more significant share in the fulfillment of tasks and actions that were previously the exclusive property of humans, the study will examine how well the justice system in Israel and in the world provides justice in conditions where the human factor is replaced by a computerized one. This question will be examined from three perspectives: access to justice, procedural justice and justice in terms of the results of the procedure," said Prof. Rabinovitch-Aini.

Bar-Ilan University

It should be noted that Bar Ilan University reported on its winning researchers in a previous round in January of this year.

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