The Kuvin Center IN THE NEWS

The Israel Ministry of Health has designated the Sanford Kuvin Center for the Study of Infectious and Tropical Diseases of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem as Israel’s National Laboratory for Leishmaniasis.

Hebrew University, Press Release, 2012

When asked why The Kuvin Centre facilitated join Israeli-Arab medical research studies, Kuvin stated, "'To make peace, there had to be sharing of brain power.''

The New York Times, 1985

(T)he central figures were Dr. Sanford F. Kuvin, an American who founded the Center for the Study of Infectious and Tropical Diseases at Hebrew University, and Dr. (Sherif el) Said. Together they are regarded as the ''godfathers'' of the project.

The New York Times, 1985

Kuvin Center at Hebrew University Designated Israel's National Laboratory for Leishmaniasis

Press Release: 

​The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

​Published December 2012

The Israel Ministry of Health has designated the Sanford Kuvin Center for the Study of Infectious and Tropical Diseases of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem as Israel’s National Laboratory for Leishmaniasis.


Leishmaniasis is a disease caused by protozoan parasites that belong to the genus Leishmania and is transmitted by the bite of certain species of sandfly.


The declaration by the Ministry of Health recognizing the Kuvin Center as the National Laboratory for Leishmaniasis highlights the leading role of the center’s researchers, who have worked together with colleagues from around the world for many years on this disease as well as other projects.
 

An estimated 12 million cases of leishmaniasis are reported worldwide, with 1.5 to 2 million new cases a year.  Depending on the parasite species symptoms of leishmaniasis can include skin sores, which erupt weeks to months after the person affected is bitten by the sandflies, as well as other consequences, such as fever, damage to the spleen and liver, and anemia. In the latter case, the disease is fatal if untreated. 

 

The Kuvin Center’s mission is to study the cause and effect of vector-borne diseases and to find and implement strategies to reduce or eliminate the impact of those diseases. The center is part of the Institute for Medical Research Israel-Canada in the Faculty of Medicine.

Dr. Sanford Kuvin, founder and international board chairman of the Kuvin Center, said, “This declaration by the Ministry of Health is really good news for both the center and the Hebrew University. It is a tribute to the excellence of Kuvin Center scientists and points to the center as the main address for infectious and tropical disease research in the Middle East.

The new designation by the Ministry of Health is a “welcome form of recognition,” added Kuvin Center Director Prof. Charles Jaffe. “While we have been conducting leishmaniasis tests for the past 10 years, we will benefit from increased interaction with the ministry on epidemiological mapping of leishmaniasis and help the ministry to map the disease in a methodical way.”

Hebrew U. receives $5 million for research on visceral leishmaniasis in Ethiopia

Press Release:

The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Published December 2009

 

The Hebrew University of Jerusalem has received a $5 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for research into visceral leishmaniasis in Ethiopia.



The project will be led by Prof. Alon Warburg, a vector biologist working at the Kuvin Center for the Study of Infectious and Tropical Diseases at the Hebrew University's Faculty of Medicine.



The project, entitled 'Studies on the ecology and transmission dynamics of visceral leishmaniasis in Ethiopia', will comprise thorough investigations to determine the drivers of transmission of Kala-Azar in endemic foci.  The ecology of the sand fly vectors and their larval breeding habitats will be characterized and putative reservoir hosts will be incriminated. In parallel, genotypes and drug sensitivities of the Leishmania parasites will be studied in depth. The data gathered will be rigorously analyzed and utilized to identify the weak links in the transmission cycle in order to devise methods for control of the disease.



According to Prof. Warburg, "Visceral leishmaniasis is transmitted by small, mosquito-like insects known as sand flies. Sand flies become infected with Leishmania while sucking blood from an infected person or animal and transmit the disease during subsequent blood meals. Sand fly control is problematic because the breeding sites of their immature stages are unknown, making larval source reduction all but impossible."



An estimated 500,000 cases of visceral leishmaniasis - also known as Kala-azar - occur annually. More than 90 percent of the cases are concentrated in the Indian sub-continent, East Africa and Brazil. The worst affected region in Africa is southern Sudan and northwest Ethiopia. Kala Azar is considered an emerging disease in Ethiopia where it is frequently associated with HIV/AIDS, a leading cause of adult illness and death. Leishmania donovani parasites multiply inside cells of the immune system producing symptoms that include an enlarged spleen and fevers. If treated with a 30-day course of intra-muscular injections, the cure rate is 95 percent. However, if left untreated, Kala-azar kills 95 percent of its victims.



Co-infection with HIV makes treatment much more complex. Because the immune system is suppressed in HIV-positive patients, Kala-azar relapses are common and patients have to be treated multiple times. Given the difficulties of treating large populations in remote areas and the bleak prospects for co-infected patients, efforts must be made to protect people living in HIV/AIDS-endemic areas from contracting Kala-azar.



This is a collaborative project with Prof. Asrat Hailu from the Faculty of Medicine and Prof. Teshome Gebre-Michael of the Aklilu Lemma Institute of Pathobiology in Addis Ababa University. Additional collaborating institutions include the Hebrew University Faculty of Agriculture, Charles University in Prague, the Volcani Center and the Gertner Institute for Trauma and Emergency Medicine Research.

A Science Project Takes Two Egyptians to Israel

Written by Henry Kamm, Special to The New York Times, Published May 1985



Egyptian and Israeli scientists at a conference here were happy to be meeting, so happy that nobody - not the hosts, not the guests and not the American sponsors - brought up the fact that of 12 Egyptians scheduled to attend only 2 had come.



''We were very ambitious,'' Dr. Sherif el-Said of Ain Shams University in Cairo said, when asked about the absences. ''We wanted 10 to 12 Egyptians to attend. But we have a lot of sensitivities at the universities.''
 

''The symbolic purpose of the meeting is amply satisfied by two people,'' said Prof. Dan T. Spira of Hebrew University, whose list of participants contained all 12. ''But it will inhibit the technical parts of these discussions.''


The comments expressed the nonscientific dimension that made the meeting here today such a special occasion. Although this is the fifth year of the research project underwritten by the United States, it was the first time that the scientists met in Israel. Besides meetings in Egypt, they had gone as far afield as Sweden and Italy before coming here.

Outgrowth of Camp David
 

After the Camp David peace accords between Israel and Egypt in 1979, the United States financed the project for the cooperative study of diseases common to this region as a step toward making Israeli-Egyptian peace more durable. The $5 million project, financed by the Agency for International Development and managed by the National Institutes of Health, is due for renewal next year.
 

The science attaches of the American Embassies in Cairo and Tel Aviv attended the first day of meetings, as did officials of the two sponsoring agencies. But the central figures were Dr. Sanford F. Kuvin, an American who founded the Center for the Study of Infectious and Tropical Diseases at Hebrew University, and Dr. Said. Together they are regarded as the ''godfathers'' of the project.
 

''We are brothers,'' said Dr. Kuvin, who described himself as a ''hybrid'' for dividing his time between Palm Beach, Fla., and Jerusalem. ''Blood brothers,'' Dr. Said said. Dr. Kuvin said he went to Egypt in 1977, before Camp David, ''looking to the future.'' To make peace, he said, ''there had to be sharing of brain power.''

Lethal Fever an Impetus



The impetus for the project came from an outbreak of Rift Valley fever, which killed about 1,000 Egyptians in 1978 and decimated the country's cattle herds. Egyptian and Israeli specialists attended a meeting at the National Institutes of Health in suburban Washington, because, Dr. Kuvin said, ''mosquitoes have a flight path that recognizes no international borders.''



The joint project ended in 1981, but Egyptian reluctance, enhanced by the Israeli invasion of Lebanon the following year, prevented a meeting in Israel.



''We have been waiting for the past three or four years to make this final grand entrance,'' said Dr. Said as he stepped before the applauding Israelis at the opening session today. ''We feel we are with our family.''



With the gradual withdrawal of Israeli troops from Lebanon, indications are that in Cairo, President Hosni Mubarak is ready to encourage more visits to Israel. A full Egyptian delegation of eight scientists attended a meeting of an American-sponsored project on dry-zone agriculture in Beersheba, Israel, last month.

Dr. Said, an entomologist, said the ''sensitivities'' among student groups and pressure from medical organizations had caused many members of his delegation to not attend. Private organizations in Cairo are taking a harder line against Israel than the Egyptian Government.



Asked about the future of the project, Dr. Said said, ''I look forward to 20 more years, if people have common sense.''

''The United States is the only country that can pull these efforts together,'' he said. ''It's not the money, that's not such a big deal. The United States has a moral commitment to this region and the world. Hand in hand we are going to do something.''

The Kuvin Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.

 

Sanford & Gabrielle Kuvin Foundation

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