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$55 million new gift from philanthropist Herta Amir to help launch new medical school
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$55 million new gift from philanthropist Herta Amir to help launch new medical school

Due to the retirement of many doctors from the former Soviet Union and the decision by many physicians to switch to other professions or leave the country, there is currently a severe shortage of family physicians and specialists in Israel.

As it takes many years of study to become a doctor, universities are pressuring the Council for Higher Education to allow them to open medical schools.

There are six medical schools in Israel: Hebrew University-Hadassah Medical School in Jerusalem; Tel Aviv University’s School of Medicine; Bar-Ilan University’s Azrieli School of Medicine in Safed; the Goldman Medical School at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Beersheba; the Rappaport Faculty of Medicine at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa; and the Dr. Miriam and Sheldon Adelson School of Medicine at Ariel University in Samaria.

The University of Haifa laid the cornerstone for the Herta and Paul Amir School of Medicine recently with plans to build the school sometime in 2025.

Thanks to a $55 million new donation by Herta Amir – the largest-ever donor to the University of Haifa, together with her late husband, Paul Amir – and NIS 50 million raised so far by the university, the school will be established.

Herta Amir is among the leaders of the Jewish community in Los Angeles, a friend and generous contributor to University of Haifa.

Born in Czechoslovakia, Mrs. Amir holds an undergraduate degree from Queens College, New York; continued her postgraduate studies at Harvard University; and holds a postgraduate degree from the University of California in Economics.Mrs.

Amir began her professional career as an Economist at the U.S. National Bureau of Economic Research and then worked for more than a decade in the Economics Department of the Rand Corporation, a non-profit nonpartisan institution that guides policy and decision-making through research and analysis.

In 1972 she joined her husband, Paul Amir, in the real estate business, Amir Development, which builds, operates, and manages dozens of real estate ventures in several western states in the US. Mrs. Amir has always been committed to the values of contributing to the community and with with her husband founded a philanthropic foundation, which has provided significant support to institutions in the U.S. and Israel including the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, the Israel Museum, Rambam Healthcare Campus, and of course University of Haifa.

In 2016, Herta and Paul Amir’s donation supported the construction of additional space at the Rabin Complex at University of Haifa. As needs increased, they funded the expansion of the Social Sciences Building, which was originally funded and completed by the Amirs, by adding two additional floors and thus creating additional research and teaching areas for the Faculty of Social Sciences, today called, “The Herta & Paul Amir Faculty of Social Sciences.”

Mrs. Amir’s current involvement is with the Health Science Building, which houses the School of Public Health, the Cheryl Spencer Department of Nursing, and the Department of Gerontology.

Another project Mrs. Amir is currently involved with, which is under construction and soon to be completed, will be a building to house the Department of Computer Science, the Department of Information Systems, and the Department of Statistics, located in the newly expanded and renovated Port of Haifa in the City’s downtown area.

Over the years Mrs. Amir has emphasized the importance of research and higher education in the life of future generations and in the future of the State of Israel. Alongside her philanthropic activities, Mrs. Amir devotes a considerable amount of time and energy to her activities as a member of the National Board of Directors of AIPAC.

Prof. Haim Bitterman, a well-known, retired internal medicine specialist at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology and chief medical officer at Clalit Healthcare Services, has been working hard for the establishment of the University of Haifa Medical School. Bitterman was chairman of medicine at Carmel Hospital in Haifa until 2010.

He has been pushing for the establishment of the school and was elected to head it as dean.

“This is a historic day for the University of Haifa and a gift to the State of Israel and the North in particular. Over the years, our goal, and that of the Amir family, has been to strengthen Israel in general and the north of the country in particular. Another medical school is very important, especially in this challenging time, especially when the need to strengthen the medical system in Israel is so significant. I am proud to be part of this exciting project,” said Amir.”

The university’s management; Prof. Yossi Mekori, chairman of the Faculty of Arts; Eli Cohen, CEO of Clalit Healthcare Services; and Dr. Avi Goldberg, CEO of the Carmel Medical Center, attended a festive ceremony that was among the events held by the university’s 52nd board of trustees.

The medical school will be established in partnership with the Carmel Medical Center and is designed to have a six-year study format.

The Council for Higher Education recognized the strategic importance of establishing a medical school at the University of Haifa. “We saw an opportunity not only to expand medical studies in Israel but to adapt them to the special needs of the north of the country and the university, which has a long history of social commitment. It is the right institution for this task.

The new medical school will be a beacon of hope and a center of outstanding research, which will receive great minds who will become the professional and humane leaders of tomorrow. It will foster an atmosphere of research, which will encourage faculty members and students to conduct groundbreaking research, which will deal with the needs of contemporary medicine and treatment,” said Mekori, chairman of the council’s Planning and Budgeting Committee.

An advanced simulation center will be established there, equipped with advanced AI technology and virtual reality on the one hand and face-to-face meetings with other service providers in the medical service chain on the other. This will allow students to realistically and truly experience the challenges of medicine in the 21st century.

“The doctors of the 21st century need to have a set of skills beyond, of course, an excellent understanding of the classical aspects of medicine. They need to master the new technologies; they need to know how to treat people who are far away from them, on the other side of the computer screen or the phone; and they need to master the aspects of medicine in the community.

Today, the way to acquire these skills is through the accumulation of experience in the field, with the advantages and disadvantages of this type of learning. The joint work with other service providers may also seem trivial, but many of us have often encountered a lack of communication between the various parties, which, in the end, harms the patient. We want to teach and train all these things as part of the curriculum and produce the best doctors, those who arrive ready for the challenges of the 21st century,” said Bitterman.

The country’s first private medical school (the others are all public) – will be the Dina Recanati School of Medicine in Herzliya, which is expected to become a world leader in the study of medicine, offering the most advanced learning environment. “The establishment of Reichman University’s medical school was born out of a national need and the desire to create a curriculum adapted to technological developments and innovations,” said the organizers.

“The increasing shortage of doctors is placing the education of doctors in real danger, and it demands a quick response. To help provide a solution to this shortage and immediately increase the number of medical students in Israel, Reichman University joined forces with the Rabin Medical Center in Petah Tikva, Clalit Healthcare Services, Maccabi Healthcare Services, and Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer to open the school, which will serve as a global model for educating future physicians in a manner that is professional, innovative, multidisciplinary, and personal.”

A special committee for setting threshold conditions is headed by Prof. Jonathan Halevy, president of Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek Medical Center.

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