By Ellen Braunstein, Special to Chicago Jewish News
Rambam Health Care Campus in Haifa, the largest medical center in northern Israel, was the first in the world to offer patients a hybrid imaging scanner that provides quicker, more accurate imaging exams and reduced exposure to radiation.
Dr. Ora Israel, head of nuclear medicine and PET/CT at Rambam, spoke at two events recently to Jewish Chicagoans and Chicagoans in business, high-tech and investment about Rambam’s medical breakthroughs.
A pioneer in the field of nuclear medicine, Professor Israel said in an interview that the hybrid imaging looks both at the function and structure of cancer. “We were among the first to understand the unmet need of the imaging experts and clinicians to be able to see the entire picture in cancer,” said Dr. Israel of the technology that was more than 20 years in the making.
“Most types of cancer you could not envision treating the patient, without the use of this imaging technology,” said Dr. Israel, who was also attending an international radiology conference.
Rambam med-tech experts have been able to go beyond cancer to treatment of heart disease and infection, she added.
More precise imaging in breast cancer “has allowed the physician to better define the treatment he or she would like to approach since there are so many options for breast cancer treatment,” she said.
The Rappaport School of Medicine at Rambam is affiliated with Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, making the campus one of the premiere med-tech industry hubs in the world. “This interaction is very fruitful for everybody and patients benefit from that.”
Dr. Israel said that Rambam is not well known to the lay American Jewish community and she feels she has “a personal obligation to help spread the word about Rambam and find as many friends as we can.”
Rambam, which is ten years older than the State of Israel, has been transformed in the last ten years with new specialty hospitals including an oncology center and children’s hospital. The Health Discovery Tower is being built which is a collaboration of Rambam, the Technion and the University of Haifa. “In pooling three great institutions together, we are creating something greater than the sum of parts,” said Rick Hirschhaut, the national executive director of American Friends of Rambam, who was also in Chicago for the presentations.
At the home of Patty and Steve Mason in Northbrook, attendees learned of breakthroughs in breast cancer detection. “Some of the participants were in need of the therapies coming out of Rambam that are not yet available in this country,” Hirschhaut said.
Hirschhaut, who is the former director of the Midwest Anti- Defamation League and founding executive director of the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center, joined the American Friends of Rambam 10 months ago.
“We’re excited to be able to begin introducing Rambam in Chicago. People are generous here and support many worthy institutions. Our hope is to be able to build a strong chapter of support in Chicago.”