15 May, 2000

An independent research Institute for Medical Biomathematics (IMBM) has been opened in Israel.

The institute, established in Bene Ataroth, Israel, was founded by Professor Zvia Agur – the President of the Israeli Society for Biomathematics. IMBM will conduct interdisciplinary research at the interface between mathematics and biology and will explore its medical applications. The inauguration ceremony of the Institute will be held on May 17th.

Professor Agur announced today the establishment of an independent research institute – the first of its kind – for medical biomathematics. The aim of the Institute for Medical BioMathematics (IMBM) is to develop complex mathematical models, and sophisticated software, which will aid in optimizing medical treatment of cancer and will enable to link the knowledge obtained by the genome project to the practical use in the clinic. These models will be based on the vast genetic and molecular understanding that has been gained over the last years and continues to emerge today. Among the projects that will be advanced in the institute is the capability to tailor clinical protocols of chemotherapy and growth factors (such as Neupogen®). The tools developed will assist in determining optimal clinical protocols, and will provide insight into dynamical processes occurring in the patient’s body.

Heading the institute is the President of the Israeli Society for Biomathematics, Professor Zvia Agur, who has recently quit her post in the university. The scientists working in the Institute have been carefully selected for their extraordinary talents and their interdisciplinary education. The Scientific Board includes scientists of international renown among which are Royal Society Professor Sir Robert May of Oxford University, Professor Ruth Arnon of the Weizmann Institute – a member of the Israeli Academy of Sciences and a Wolf Prize laureate and Professor Stanimir Vuk-Pavlovic – head of the stem cell laboratory at the Mayo Clinic in the United States.

Professor Agur: “Biomathematics has yet to earn formal acknowledgement in Israeli academic circles. The establishment of the Institute is based on the belief, that extraordinary research and interdisciplinary novelty are essential for scientific breakthroughs. IMBM is determined to take this scientific road and to apply such novelty for the development of better treatments for cancer patients.”

IMBM will function as an independent research institute, and is supported by a European Foundation and by the “Fifth Program” of the European Union.

In conjunction with the opening of the Institute, a commercial company was established whose role is to translate the Institute’s scientific achievements into applicable tools. Cooperating with the scientists working in the Institute, the company will develop an intellectual property portfolio that will help strengthen the link between the biomathematic sciences, the biotech and pharmaceutics industry and the medical clinic. Prospective financial and strategic partners have been contacted for enhancing the activity of the commercial company.

More information on the Institute, its goals and achievements may be found in: www.imbm.org.

Professor Zvia Agur may be contacted by phone on 972-3-9733075.


19 May, 2000

European VC fund invests in new biomathematics institute

The Institute for Medical BioMathematics (IMBM) was officially launched yesterday in Bnei Atarot, with many of Israel's leading scientists in attendance and a roster of international scholars on the independent research institute's scientific board.

The founder and chief scientist of IMBM is Dr. Zvia Agur, the president of the Israeli Society for Biomathematics, a former professor at Tel Aviv University, and member of the faculty at the Weizmann Institute.

IMBM - a non-profit institute supported primarily by an unnamed European foundation and the "Fifth Program" of the European Union - has also established a commercial arm, Optimata, as a holding company for its intellectual property. At least one European venture capital fund - with interests in hi-tech companies Given, Emation, and Topscan - has invested in Optimata, which is in the process of raising more money to develop immediate medical applications for IMBM's discoveries.

"One specific and important application that will soon be starting clinical trials is in the process of blood recovery for cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy," according to Agur.

IMBM's work will focus on optimizing methods of treatment of cancerous tumors, with the prospect of advances in curing other infectious diseases - including possibly AIDS - in the future.

"IMBM will conduct interdisciplinary research at the interface between mathematics and biology," Agur explained, "with the aim of building computer models and tools that can understand the dynamics of what is occurring in patients' bodies. Then we can develop protocols that will render oncological treatments more effective, while reducing harmful and unpleasant side effects."

It is only recently that this esoteric branch of biotechnology is coming to the forefront of medical science. "This is the outcome of the vast amounts of new data that is being generated by the ambitious human genome project, and our increased understanding of DNA," Agur said. "Biomathematics will play an innovative role in enhancing medical and pharmaceutical science for the benefit of cancer patients."