Seiden Science

Generations of the Seiden family promote scientific exchange and academic excellence at Technion

(l-r) Vice President for Academic Affairs Prof. Hagit Attiya,longtime Technion supporter Norman Seiden, and recipient of the inaugural Norman Seiden Award for Academic Excellence, Prof. Jacob Rubinstein

Norman Seiden, Deputy Chair of the Technion Board of Governors and a leader of the American Technion Society (ATS) New York Metropolitan Region, was honored at the Technion in December 2015 for three generations of support to the university, much of which has focused on - and pioneered - optoelectronics and nanotechnology.

Norman Seiden was joined by his sons, Mark and Stephen, and their wives, Diane and Sharon, at dedications of the Mark and Diane Seiden International Workshop in Nanoscience and Nanotechnology (to be held in 2016) and the Pearl Seiden International Meeting in Life Sciences, named for Norman's daughter Pearl. Ceremonies were held for the Norman and Barbara Seiden Family Prizes for multidisciplinary undergraduate projects in optoelectronics, microelectronics, and nanosciences, and the new Norman Seiden Prize for Academic Excellence, established by Norman Seiden's children in honor of their father's 90th birthday.

The first Pearl Seiden International Meeting in Life Sciences: From Synthetic Biology to Discovery and Applications took place concurrently. The meeting brought together speakers who use quantitative biological approaches with synthetic biologists to see where synthetic biology approaches can advance quantitative biology research and vice versa. The ultimate goal: to foster collaborations that will lead to discovery by finding ways to combine synthetic biology approaches with quantitative research techniques for the cross-fertilization of both disciplines.

Prof. Roy Kishony, the Marilyn and Henry Taub Professor of Life Sciences and a co-organizer of the Seiden Workshop, thanked the Seidens for their foresight in “helping to proactively bring top researchers to the Technion and exposing our community to their science as a way to greatly enhance our own work."

“[My support for Technion] is probably the single most important thing I have done.”

Technion President Prof. Peretz Lavie noted that 70 years ago, Norman Seiden graduated from Purdue University in Mechanical Engineering and to commemorate this event, his parents gave a gift to the Technion. Norman continued the tradition, and became a pillar of the ATS. And now, his children Mark and Steven continue the family tradition: Three generations who support the Technion. "This is the strength of the Technion," Lavie said. "You made the Technion what it is today."

Lavie also noted that Seiden has the rare ability to identify scientific issues that are of top importance and that will lead the future, such as optoelectronics. Similarly, Norman was the dynamo behind Technion's Russell Berrie Nanotechnology Institute. "And now, the subject of the workshop today, Synthetic Biology. I believe this is one of the important areas of research for the future," Lavie said.

Norman Seiden said of his support for Technion, "It is probably the single most important thing I have done through my life. I have great satisfaction knowing that I have been able to do just a little part of what you are doing today."

In her absence, Stephen Seiden read a message from his sister Pearl in which she thanked her father "for continuing the link between us, the third generation, and the Technion."

Mark Seiden said, "We are truly blessed to have Dad as our mentor both as a father and as a philanthropist. You have instilled in us how important Technion is."

The inaugural recipient of the Norman Seiden Award for Academic Excellence is Prof. Jacob (Koby) Rubinstein, an applied mathematician who served as dean of the Faculty of Mathematics between 2009 and 2012.

(l-r) Mark and Stephen Seiden at the inauguration of the Pearl Seiden International Meeting in Life Sciences, named for their sister, Pearl

Rubinstein described some of his recent work, which applies mathematics to medicine. One project - just completed - introduces advanced mathematical tools into the urological oncology clinic at Bnai Zion Medical Center. "Together with Prof. Sarel Halachmi, we are developing mathematical methods to predict prognosis of bladder cancer patients," Rubinstein reported.

Rubinstein demonstrated his multifocal spectacles to the audience, to illustrate a specific product of his previous research, done jointly with Prof. Gershon Wolansky, also from the Technion Math Faculty. Their design is based on a Technion-developed algorithm and computer code that were transferred to a kibbutz company, Shamir Optical. "An independent consumer report says that these lenses are the best in the world," Rubinstein said. "I benefit from my own invention every minute, and derive satisfaction that the IP was sold to an Israeli company."

"I will use this award for my visual optics research in collaboration with the ophthalmology department at Rambam Medical Healthcare Campus," Rubinstein thanked the Seidens, referring to several ongoing projects - with Prof. Eytan Blumenthal and Dr Britannia Fleming - to better understand the eye as a visual organ and cure pathologies in ophthalmology.