Israel and the Convergence Revolution

December 19, 2012 9:27 pm 1 comment

The Computer Science Faculty building at the Technion Institute for Science in Haifa, Israel. Photo: wiki commons.

At the recent Cardiovascular symposium held at the Technion, my colleague Professor Michael Aviram opened the proceedings by stating, “We are now in the third Biomedical Revolution; the Convergence Revolution”. The symposium celebrated the leaps and bounds in cardiovascular research that scientists from the University of Michigan and the Technion Israel Institute of Technology are making by working together.

Convergence describes the unification of different fields of study for collaboration and integration of their varying approaches. The convergence revolution represents a paradigm shift in the way we approach research and the way we traditionally compartmentalised departments. As we progress through the second decade of the new millennium, it is clear to see that the convergence of life sciences, physical sciences, computing and engineering to enhance research is crucial to furthering medical advances.

Advances in medical science and technology, over the past century, have been responsible for increasing the average life span of an American by over thirty years and we are continuing to make huge strides in medical innovations. I am working with the latest genetic technology to understand the impact of certain gene expressions on patients with diabetes and across the hallway, scientists in cardiovascular medicine and regenerative medicine work together to develop beating heart tissue from ordinary stem cells. Never more has it been so important to house the foremost scientists and developers in engineering, computing and medicine in such close proximity to one another.

When teaching the next generation of doctors, we need to facilitate innovative thinking. Medicine is no longer divided into discrete specialties. We now know of the cumulative effect of various diseases on the whole body and we understand the importance of doctors being able to have a thorough knowledge of the latest scientific advances across all areas of medicine. Surgeons use robots to operate most effectively, neurologists use the latest imaging techniques to understand brain disorders and cardiologists work with mathematical algorithms to understand diseases.

With links between the faculties at the school where I teach getting stronger each year, I see the future of medicine, not in a medical school detached from a University but in a collaborative effort from all of our departments to teach medical students to be well-rounded doctors.

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