Archive for the ‘Interviews with Scientific Leaders’ Category

Science luminaries speak at Breakthrough Symposium – Livestream available


UPDATED on 11/7/2018

Angelika Amon wins 2019 Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences

Four other MIT researchers to receive New Horizons Prizes in math and physics; two alumni win Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics.

Anne Trafton | MIT News Office
October 17, 2018

Angelika Amon, an MIT professor of biology, is one of five scientists who will receive a 2019 Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences, given for transformative advances toward understanding living systems and extending human life.

Amon, the Kathleen and Curtis Marble Professor in Cancer Research and a member of MIT’s Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research, was honored for her work in determining the consequences of aneuploidy, an abnormal chromosome number that results from mis-segregation of chromosomes during cell division.

The award, announced this morning, comes with a $3 million prize.

“Angelika Amon is an outstanding choice to receive the Breakthrough Prize,” says Tyler Jacks, director of the Koch Institute and the David H. Koch Professor of Biology. “Her work on understanding how cells control the decisions to divide and the effects of imbalances in chromosome number has helped shape how we think about normal development and disease. Angelika is a fearless investigator and a true scientist’s scientist. All of us in the Koch Institute and across MIT are thrilled by this news.”

Two MIT alumni, Charles Kane PhD ’89 and Eugene Mele PhD ’78, both professors at the University of Pennsylvania, will share a Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics. Kane and Mele are being recognized for their new ideas about topology and symmetry in physics, leading to the prediction of a new class of materials that conduct electricity only on their surface.



Complete List of 2019 Winners Breakthrough Prize


Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences Breakthrough Prize

  • C. Frank Bennett and Adrian R. Krainer – Ionis Pharmaceuticals and Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
    Citation: For the development of an effective antisense oligonucleotide therapy for children with the neurodegenerative disease spinal muscular atrophy.
  • Angelika Amon – Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Howard Hughes Medical Institute
    Citation: For determining the consequences of aneuploidy, an abnormal chromosome number resulting from chromosome mis-segregation.
  • Xiaowei Zhuang – Harvard University and Howard Hughes Medical Institute
    Citation: For discovering hidden structures in cells by developing super-resolution imaging, a method that transcends the fundamental spatial resolution limit of light microscopy.
  • Zhijian “James” Chen – University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and Howard Hughes Medical Institute
    Citation: For elucidating how DNA triggers immune and autoimmune responses from the interior of a cell through the discovery of the DNA-sensing enzyme cGAS.

Breakthrough Prize In Fundamental Physics

  • Charles Kane and Eugene Mele – University of Pennsylvania
    Citation: For new ideas about topology and symmetry in physics, leading to the prediction of a new class of materials that conduct electricity only on their surface.

Breakthrough Prize In Mathematics

  • Vincent Lafforgue – CNRS (National Center for Scientific Research, France) and Institut Fourier, Université Grenoble Alpes
    Citation: For ground breaking contributions to several areas of mathematics, in particular to the Langlands program in the function field case.

Special Breakthrough Prize In Fundamental Physics

  • Jocelyn Bell Burnell – University of Dundee and University of Oxford
    Citation: For fundamental contributions to the discovery of pulsars, and a lifetime of inspiring leadership in the scientific community.


Press Release From: Breakthrough Prize Foundation
Posted: Sunday, November 4, 2018

Winners of 2019 Breakthrough Prize Will Lead Discussions on Cutting-Edge Research with Inspiring TED-Style Talks


WHAT:          The 2019 Breakthrough Prize Symposium, held the day after the Breakthrough

Prize Awards ceremony, will feature both current and former laureates leading TED-style talks on cutting-edge science research initiatives and the significance and future of scientific discovery.

Topics include abnormal chromosomes and their role in cancer and potential use as a therapeutic target; exploring radio bursts and what’s going on in the stars; algebraic geometry and the Langlands Program; and discussing RNA splicing as a target for the next generation of precision medicines.

Dr. Jennifer Doudna, 2015 Breakthrough Prize Laureate and leader in the CRISPR revolution, will present “Recoding Life: The Future of Genome Editing.”

The event will conclude with three cross-disciplinary panel discussions between laureates past and present, about broad philosophical subjects around science and technology.  The topics of this year’s discussions include: ‘Is there (intelligent) life in the Universe?’; ‘What are the limits of science?’; and ‘Is time travel possible?’.

For a detailed schedule of the program, visit  

WHEN:        Monday, November 5, 2018

                     Pauley Ballroom, MLK Student Union

UC Berkeley

The presentations will be streamed live via YouTube (see program for URLs) and Facebook Live. 

Breakthrough Prize Laureate Talks

9:30AM – 5:00PM PST

Evening Cross-Disciplinary Panel

5:30PM – 7:00 PM PST





 (9:30AM – 5:00PM PST)

10:30 AM – Abnormal Chromosome Number: it’s Role in Cancer and Potential as a Therapeutic

Angelika Amon, 2019 Laureate

10:55 AM – Envisaging the Emergence of Quantum Topological Matter     

Charles Kane, 2019 Laureate


11:20 AM – Recoding Life: The Future of Genome Editing              

Jennifer Doudna, 2015 Laureate

11:45 AM – Some Open Problems in Algebraic Geometry and the Langlands Program

Vincent Lafforgue, 2019 Laureate

12:10 PM – RNA Splicing as a Target for the Next Generation of Precision Medicines       

Adrian R. Krainer, 2019 Laureate

1:35 PM – Biomaterials and How They Will Change our Lives        

Robert Langer, 2014 Laureate

2:00 PM – Imaging the Invisible in Living Organisms –– Current State of the Art and Future         

Xiaowei Zhuang, 2019 Laureate

2:25 PM – The Winding Road from Topological Insulators  

Gene Mele, 2019 Laureate

2:50 PM – Inflammation 2030 – Modern Disease Caused by an Old Flame 

James Chen, 2019 Laureate

3:45 PM – Seeking a Computer-free Proof of the 4-Color Theorem

Ian Agol, 2016 Laureate

4:10 PM – Genetic Medicines: Present and Future   

Frank Bennett, 2019 Laureate

5:00 PM – Radio Bursts!  What’s Going on Amongst the Stars?

Jocelyn Bell Burnell, 2018 Laureate


(5:30 – 7:00PM PST)

Is there (intelligent) life in the Universe?

Featuring Jocelyn Bell, Astronomy, 2018 Laureate; John Hardy, Neuroscience, 2017 Laureate; and Kim Nasmyth, Molecular Biology, 2018 Laureate

Astronomers have been looking for life beyond Earth for decades, but have so far found nothing. But the recent discovery that almost all stars probably host planets may have changed the game. How likely are we to find primitive life? How hard is it to get from cells to brains? And why have we not seen evidence of civilizations?

What are the limits of science?

Featuring Andrei Linde, Theoretical Physics, Cosmology – 2012 Laureate; Gary Ruvkun, Molecular Biology, Genetics, 2015 Laureate; and  Xiaowei Zhuang, Biophysics, 2019 Laureate


Science has shown us a universe more and more distant from our familiar world: at microscopic and cosmic scales, at the dawn of time and remote stages of evolutionary history. But is this process limitless? What are the furthest and smallest physical and biological objects we can see? Can we ever know what happened at the moment of the Big Bang? And how far back can we retrace the origin of life on Earth?

Is time travel possible?

Nima Arkani-Hamed, Theoretical Physics, 2012 Laureate; Daniel Harlow, Theoretical Physics,  2019 Laureate; Daniel Jafferis, Theoretical Physics,  2019 Laureate; and Aron Wall, Theoretical Physics, 2019 Laureate


Time travel is a staple of science fiction, but how does mainstream science see it? Is it forbidden by the laws of physics? And if not, could it ever be a practical possibility? And do scientists even agree about what time is?

MEDIA OPPORTUNITIES: All events are free and open to the media, but seating is limited. Please RSVP to Kristen Bothwell / / 212-843-9227; or Emily Gest / / 917-690-7823.

The Breakthrough Prize Symposium partners include Stanford University, the University of California, San Francisco, and the University of California, Berkeley.

The Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences honors transformative advances toward understanding living systems and extending human life. The Breakthrough Prize in Mathematics honors the world’s best mathematicians who have contributed to major advances in the field. The Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics recognizes major insights into the deepest questions of the Universe.

For more information on the Breakthrough Prize, visit

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Cardiac Medical Devices Pioneer, Earl E. Bakken, Medtronic Co-founder, the developer of the first external, battery-powered, transistorized pacemaker, died at 94 on 10/21/2018 in Hawaii

Reporter: Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN


Earl Bakken was born to Florence and Osval Bakken on January 10, 1924, in Minneapolis. After serving as a radar instructor in World War II, Bakken earned a degree in electrical engineering at the University of Minnesota.

In the late 1950’s, Bakken developed the first external, wearable, battery-powered, transistorized heart pacemaker, and commercialized the first implantable pacemaker in 1960. Medtronic grew rapidly from there; today its medical products and devices improve the lives of two people every second.

Earl with five-year-old pacemaker recipient Lyla Koch in 1984

Image Source


Legendary Medtronic co-founder passes away in Hawaii.

Earl Bakken, Co-founder, Medtronic, died at 94

Image Source

The business struggled, but while servicing medical equipment, Bakken and Hermundslie built relationships with doctors at university hospitals in Minneapolis. There they met C. Walton Lillehei, a young staff surgeon who would later become famous for pioneering open-heart surgery. Following a blackout in the Twin Cities that caused the death of an infant, Lillehei asked Bakken to come up with a solution. He responded by adapting a circuit described in Popular Electronics magazine to create the first external wearable, battery-powered pacemaker, replacing the large, alternating current-powered pacemakers that were in use at the time.

The original Medtronic "Garage Gang" poses in front of Medtronic Operational Headquarters in Fridley, Minnesota.

The Garage Gang

Standing: Dale Blosberg, Norman Hagfors, Earl Hatten. Seated: John Bravis, Earl Bakken, Louis Leisch

They expanded services to other medical technology. Then in 1960, the first implantable pacemaker was implanted in a human patient. Bakken and Hermundslie reached a licensing agreement with the inventors, giving their small company exclusive manufacturing and marketing rights to the device, and Medtronic took off.

“Earl always had a vision of healthcare of not being about devices, about drugs, but about restoring people to full health,” said former Medtronic CEO Bill George. “And so from the very start he was focused on not implanting a device, but enabling people to live a full active life and he delivered that point of view to all Medtronic employees through The Mission.

A lifelong aspiration came true for Bakken in 2013, when Medtronic Philanthropy launched The Bakken Invitation to honor people who received medical devices, and who made an impact on the lives of others, through service and volunteerism. Bakken, who in his later years became a medical device patient, with a pacemaker, coronary stents and insulin pump, was fond of asking patients what they planned to do with their gift of “extra life.” Each year Bakken met with the honorees. “Their stories are a powerful reminder that we can all give back-no matter our current situation,” he said after meeting them in 2014.

Earl poses with recipients of the Bakken Invitation in 2013.Earl with Bakken Invitation recipients in 2013

Every year in December, Medtronic employees gather to mark another Bakken inspiration — the employee holiday program. The company invites patients from all over the world to share their stories of how medical technology has improved their lives. Hundreds of employees fill the Medtronic conservatory for the event, while thousands of others listen or watch via Medtronic TV.

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HUBweek 2018, October 8-14, 2018, Greater Boston – “We The Future” – coming together, of breaking down barriers, of convening across disciplinary lines to shape our future

Reporter: Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN


HUBweek 2018

Hi Aviva,


At HUBweek and in this community, we believe a brighter future is built together. In these times of division, particularly when many are feeling excluded from the benefits brought forth by rapid technological development, there is critical importance in the act of coming together, of breaking down barriers, of convening across disciplinary lines to shape our future.

That’s why this year’s theme for HUBweek is We the Future. It is a call to action and an invitation. Throughout the week, we’ll bring together innovators, artists, and curious minds to explore the ways in which we can shape a more inclusive and equitable future for all.

Today, HUBweek kicks off with dozens of events taking place across the city–from public art tours, a drone zoo, and discussions on nuclear weapons and the impact of emerging technologies on people with disabilities, to a policy hackathon hosted by MIT and the first ever Change Maker Conference.

There are 225+ more experiences to take part in throughout HUBweek–a three-day Forum and a documentary film festival; open dialogues with leading thinkers; a robot block party; and collaborative and participatory art. And we’ve got a little fun in store for you, too–make sure you sign up and stop by The HUB later this week to check it all out.

At its core, HUBweek is a collaboration. If not for our partners and the unwavering support of this community, this would not be a reality. A big thank you to our presenting partners Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, Liberty Mutual Insurance, and Merck KGaA, to our sponsors, and to the hundreds of collaborating organizations, speakers, artists, and creative minds that are behind this year’s festival.

On behalf of the HUBweek team and our founders The Boston Globe, Harvard University, Mass. General Hospital, and MIT, we’re thrilled to invite you to join us at HUBweek 2018.


Linda Pizzuti Henry



From: Linda Pizzuti Henry <>

Reply-To: <>

Date: Monday, October 8, 2018 at 9:38 AM

To: Aviva Lev-Ari <>

Subject: Welcome to HUBweek

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The History, Uses, and Future of the Nobel Prize, 1:00pm – 6:00pm, Thursday, October 4, 2018, Harvard Medical School

Reporter in Real Time: Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN


Center for the History of Medicine

Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine

invites you to register for

 The History, Uses, and Future of the Nobel Prize

1:00pm – 6:00pm, Thursday, October 4, 2018

A half-day symposium bringing together an international group of historians and Nobel laureates to consider the history of the Nobel Prize and its enduring social, political, and scientific roles


Panel I: Scientific Credit and the History of the Nobel Prize

Chair: Allan Brandt (Harvard Medical School and Harvard University) /

Jacalyn M. Duffin (Queen’s University): Commemorating Excellence: the Nobel Prize and the Historical Sociology of Science /

Nils Hansson, Thorsten Halling,  and

Heiner Fangerau (Heinrich Heine-University): The First US-American Nobel Prize Nominees in Medicine (and why they failed) /

Jeffrey Flier (Harvard Medical School): The Past, Present, and Future of Scientific Credit in Biomedicine


Panel II: The Nobel – and Ig Nobel – Prize in Practice

Chair: David S. Jones (Harvard Medical School and Harvard University) /

David Kaiser (Massachusetts Institute of Technology): But Does it Scale? Awarding Nobel Prizes in Physics amid Exponential Growth /

Marc Abrahams (Annals of Improbable Research/Ig Nobel Prizes): Ig Nobel: Research that Makes You Laugh, then Makes You Think


Panel III: The Uses and Future of the Nobel Prize

Chair: Scott H. Podolsky (Harvard Medical School) /

Eric Chivian, Ira Helfand,

Bernard Lown,

James Muller, and

John Pastore (leadership of IPPNW, recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, 1985): Decreasing the Nuclear Threat to Humanity – Nobel Peace Prizes to IPPNW in 1985 and ICAN in 2017 /

Torsten Wiesel (recipient, Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, 1981): Nobel – Excellence Forever /

Jack Szostak (recipient, Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, 2009): Opportunities and Responsibilities that Come with Winning the Nobel Prize



From: Center for the History of Medicine <> on behalf of Center for the History of Medicine <>

Reply-To: Center for the History of Medicine <>

Date: Monday, September 24, 2018 at 3:14 PM

To: Aviva Lev-Ari <>

Subject: Only 9 days away! Register for The History, Uses, and Future of the Nobel Prize on 10/4

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2018 Awards to Anthony Melvin Crasto, PhD: International award for Outstanding contribution to Pharma society and National award to Anthony Melvin Crasto for contribution to Pharma society from Times Network for Excellence in HEALTHCARE

Reporter: Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN



[EUREKAMOMENTS IN ORGANIC CHEMISTRY] Anthony Melvin Crasto gets International award for Outstanding contribution to Pharma society by CMO ASIA 31st July 2018 Le Méridien Sentosa Singapore


Anthony Melvin Crasto gets International award for Outstanding contribution to Pharma society by CMO ASIA 31st July 2018 Le Méridien Sentosa Singapore

National award to Anthony Melvin Crasto for contribution to Pharma society from Times Network for Excellence in HEALTHCARE) | 5th July, 2018 | Taj Lands End, Mumbai, India


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2018 Albany Medical Center Prize in Medicine and Biomedical Research goes to NIH’s Dr. Rosenberg and fellow immunotherapy researchers James P. Allison, Ph.D., and Carl H. June, M.D.


Reporter: Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN


Steven A. Rosenberg, M.D., Ph.D., of the Center for Cancer Research (CCR) at the National Cancer Institute (NCI), has been named a recipient of the 2018 Albany Medical Center Prize in Medicine and Biomedical Research for his leading role in the development of immunotherapy to treat cancer. Dr. Rosenberg will share the honor with fellow immunotherapy researchers James P. Allison, Ph.D., and Carl H. June, M.D.

Dr. Rosenberg is chief of the surgery branch at NCI, part of the National Institutes of Health. Dr. Allison is chair of the Department of Immunology at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. Dr. June is director of the Center for Cellular Immunotherapy in the Abramson Cancer Center at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. Dr. Allison and Dr. June are supported by NCI grants and conduct research at NCI-designated cancer centers.

“Because of the work of these three researchers, the nascent field of immunotherapy has already had spectacular success, leading to effective mitigation and often cures for thousands of cancer and HIV patients whose diseases were not treatable by other methods,” said Vincent Verdile, M.D., the Lynne and Mark Groban Distinguished Dean of Albany Medical College and chair of the Albany Prize National Selection Committee. “Their impact on the development of cancer immunotherapy – and where it goes from here – is unsurpassed.”

“I’m honored to receive this award, and to be recognized with such luminaries in this field,” Dr. Rosenberg said. “While in some ways we’re still just at the start of seeing what immunotherapy can do, every day we’re seeing more progress, and we are confident that this treatment will take dramatic steps forward in the years to come.”

“Steve Rosenberg is a medical trailblazer who envisioned before anyone else a revolutionary new approach to cancer therapy that will soon be taken for granted,” said Tom Misteli, Ph.D., director of CCR at NCI. “In his work over decades at NCI, he has taken full advantage of the ability provided by the NCI Intramural Research program to pursue high-risk, long-term research and we are fortunate to have him as a colleague.”

The prize will be awarded during a celebration on Wednesday, Sept. 26, in Albany, New York.

The Albany Medical Center Prize was established in 2000 by the late Morris “Marty” Silverman to honor scientists whose work has demonstrated significant outcomes that offer medical value of national or international importance. A $50 million gift commitment from the Marty and Dorothy Silverman Foundation provides for the prize to be awarded annually for 100 years. Three previous Nobel Prize winners have been among the researchers honored, and five Albany Prize recipients have gone on to win the Nobel Prize.


Other related articles published in this Open Access Online Scientific Journal include the following:

Cancer-free after immunotherapy treatment: Treating advanced colon cancer – targeting KRAS gene mutation by tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs) and Killer T-cells (NK)

Reporter: Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN

Immune-Oncology Molecules In Development & Articles on Topic in

Curators: Stephen J Williams, PhD and Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN

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2018 Dan David Prize Laureates Announced

Reporter: Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN


The Dan David Prize is an international prize which annually awards three prizes of US$ 1 million each for outstanding scientific, technological, cultural, and social achievements having an impact on our world. Each year fields are chosen within the three Time Dimensions – Past, Present, and Future.





Max Planck Institute for the History of Science
Berlin, Germany

For her groundbreaking historical work on the “Ideals and Practices of Rationality”, as she has termed the basic categories of scientific investigation and accomplishment. Her meticulous historical studies of “reason,” “proof,” “fact,” “observation,” “scientific object,” “data”, and even “objectivity” itself, masterfully demonstrate how such seemingly universal concepts have changed dramatically since the seventeenth century.



Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Boston, MA, USA

For her pioneering work in science and gender that has transformed our views of the history of science. Fox Keller has examined particularly the role of language in genetics and molecular biology, interrogating the historical legacy embedded in scientific language. Her remarkable insight into the relation between feminism and science reveals the obstacles to the pursuit of science by women and envisions what a gender-free science might look like.



University of Cambridge
Cambridge, United Kingdom

For the way his work has transformed our understanding of science in history by consistently targeting key issues, and probing the limits of current debate. Spanning a remarkable chronological and geographical range, from seventeenth to the twentieth century, and from London and Beijing to Parramatta and Paris, Simon Schaffer’s impressive body of work demonstrates how experiment can no longer be seen as the mere testing of theories, but is located in witnessing, trust and acquired skill. His work exposes how major junctures in the history of science are embedded in the localities of commercial exchange, political negotiation, and the activities of everyday life.



University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA, USA

For advancing the field of bioethics by combining his skills as a physician, policymaker, and scholar. Prof. Emanuel is a pioneer in the field of end-of life care and research ethics. He emphasized that patients who want euthanasia of assisted suicide do not do so because of pain but because of psychological distress, depression and hopelessness. His analysis of the physician patient relationship is a landmark widely taught throughout the world and used to educate medical students.



Kings College London
London, United Kingdom

For his seminal contributions to the theoretical aspects of bioethics. For setting the research agenda in many topics and in particular in Human Enhancement and Reproductive Ethics. His original research spans diverse topics such as human nature, war and the Holocaust, genetic ethics, neuroethics, and psychiatric issues. The originality of his thought is marked by the role he plays in shaping the debates others will follow.



London, United Kingdom

For her leading role in the development of practical bioethics and specifically for her progressive and unparalleled contribution to the ethics of embryology and genetics and their ethical and philosophical implication, reproductive technologies, and disability studies. Dame Mary helped to enhance the welfare of society by breaking the boundaries between academic and enacted ethics.



Ohio State University
Columbus, OH, USA

For pioneering the unraveling of the molecular basis of a number of lymphoma and leukemia cancers. Mastering both cytogenetics and molecular biology, he identified the role of major oncogenes as drivers of cancer development, progression and resistance to therapy. His studies also demonstrated the role of micro RNAs in tumor pathogenesis. His numerous findings in cancer enable precise cancer diagnosis, individualized targeting of therapy and the development of novel rationally designed anti-cancer drugs.



University of Washington
Seattle, WA, USA

For being a world leader in Medical Genetics with major contributions to the study of the molecular basis of several diseases. Her seminal finding was the demonstration of a genetic predisposition to breast and ovarian cancer resulting from mutations in a single gene, the BRCA1 gene. This game changing discovery contributes to the understanding of hereditary cancer predisposition and revolutionized clinical approaches for cancer predisposition screening, individualized interventions and tailoring of rational therapy.



Johns Hopkins School of Medicine
Baltimore, MD, USA

For his seminal contributions to the understanding of cancer genetics and genomics. His pioneering studies on colon cancer demonstrated that cancer results from sequential genetic and epigenetic alterations. He was involved in the identification and characterization of tumor suppressor genes and oncogenes and developed and applied high throughput methodologies for concomitant analysis of thousands of genes and whole genomes. Such approaches paved the way to early diagnosis, precise characterization and tailoring of individualized therapy of cancer.



On Personalized Medicine
“Engineering Tissues and Organs From Patient-Specific Tissues to Bionic Organs”Prof. Tal Dvir
The George S. Wise Faculty of Life Sciences
Tel Aviv University

On Bioethics
“The Paradox of Jewish Bioethics in Israel”Prof. Shai Lavi
Faculty of Law, Tel Aviv University and
Director of the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute


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