American Friends of Rabin Medical Center (AFRMC) celebrated the success of its Rabin Medical Exchange program with a reception hosted by Yvonne Cohen and family on Tuesday, March 8th 2016, at the Harmonie Club in Manhattan.
The evening, a tribute to Barry Cohen z”l, who served as AFRMC Chairman for twelve years and “always believed Rabin Medical Center should be a temple of science and medicine” included donors, doctors and friends of the Cohen family. Rabin Medical Center’s Cardiac Intensive Care unit was named in Barry Cohen’s memory, and the department’s head of cardiology, Dr. Kornowski, continues to share with his team the memory of the man who was “larger than life.”
The evening celebrated the achievements of AFRMC having funded seventy doctors in six years to come to the United States to major medical institutions for numerous specializations. The Rabin Medical Exchange Fellows program selects top doctors, researchers and medical practitioners from hospitals and research centers from the Rabin Medical Center of Israel to conduct research and share their expertise.
This year the Rabin Medical Exchange Fellows program was further advanced with the support of AFRMC President, Ron Cohen, through the Ron & Fiorenza Cohen Craniofacial Fellowship which for the first time sent a Rabin Medical Exchange doctor to Israel. This November, world renowned craniofacial expert Dr. David Staffenberg, NYU Langone, became the 70th Rabin Medical Exchange fellow, spending three days at Rabin Medical Center meeting with the Rabin Medical Center’s craniofacial team and performing complex surgeries on young Jewish and Palestinian children with facial anomalies. In 2016 AFRMC Rabin Medical Exchange program’s expansive partnership with the Las Vegas Jewish Federation, will be sending Israeli-Arab doctor, Mohamed Kittani, to Desert Orthopedic Center in Nevada.
Yvette Pomerantz, daughter of Yvonne and Barry Cohen, continues her father’s legacy as an active member of the AFRMC board. Yvette reflected: “my dad was always fascinated with communication and technology” and this year the Cohen family chose to honor two Rabin Medical Exchange doctors spanning from the research lab to the operating room, both participating in Cardiology fellowships in the United States through AFRMC.
Receiving the 2016 Abraham & Yvonne Cohen Cardiac & Medical Research Exchange awards were Dr. Emanuel Harari, participating in an 18 month Cardiac Research fellowship at CVPath Institute, Maryland and Dr. Ariel Farkash, Clinical Fellowship in Adult Cardiac Surgery, Mount Sinai Hospital, New York. The doctors presented their own research focusing on global innovations in cardiology research and practices, what they have learned during their fellowships in America, and what they hope to take back to Israel and apply to advancing the Rabin Medical Center.
In a talk entitled Vulnerable Hearts & Patients, Dr. Harari shared with the audience his passion for the field of vulnerable hearts. He explained his research goals to identify vulnerable plaques before they rupture and develop diagnostic tools using the biochemical properties of the vulnerable plaque, molecular imaging, and to develop new therapeutic interventions to stabilize the plaque without the need to transplant a permanent stent. He spoke about a particular experiment conducted at Rabin Medical Center which used gold particles to spot inflammatory cells. Once located they fused with the good cholesterol decreasing the inflammation almost entirely within four weeks. His experience at Rabin Medical Center coupled with his research at CVPath Institute leaves Dr. Harari optimistic that despite heart disease being the number one cause of death worldwide, today’s advances in medicine will change how we practice cardiology in the next 15 years.
In 2013, Dr. Ariel Farkash participated in a short term fellowship through Rabin Medical Center at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York. Through this experience, two years later, Dr. Farkash has returned to Mount Sinai for a two year fellowship where he focuses on non-invasive cardiac surgery using advanced medical technology to give patients artificial hearts.
Dr. Joshua Plaut, AFRMC Executive Director, expressed that the work of these doctors “embodies the spirit of the Cohen Fund and Rabin Medical Exchange Fellows program, which is to identify great heart doctors and give them the opportunity to come to the United States, to study from the best doctors here in America and then return to Rabin Medical Center, which has the greatest cardiology department in Israel. These are their students. This is the next generation.” Sharing in the sentiment Yvette Pomerantz urged guests to “get to know the doctors, because who they are really comes to play in the way they treat patients.”
Consul General of Israel in New York and friend of the Cohen family, Ido Aharoni, remembered Barry Cohen and his relationship with AFRMC. “For me, every meeting, every encounter with Barry Cohen was about learning about the history of my country. But more than anything, I learned about his personality, his vision, about his tendency to emphasize the future rather than the past. And what he told me the last time we met, he had this vision of assembling all the most brilliant doctors and scientists that we have in Israel. And together, he said we should be able to tackle the big issues of our time. And I truly believe, he said, the message of innovation and creativity should come out of Israel. And it is appropriate that we are celebrating here tonight the vision of the Cohen family.”
Yvonne Cohen, wife of Barry, welcomed guests including five Rabin Medical Exchange doctors in attendance saying “it’s such a privilege for us to get to know these doctors, personally. The concept was one that was very important to Barry. I’m happy to say that the torch is being carried forward by our family and our friends who have been truly steadfast and continue their involvement in the important progress of the Rabin Medical Center.”
As best stated by Ido Aharoni, “We live in the age of creativity. No question, Barry Cohen was a pioneer. It’s all about the ability to come up with new ideas to change the world. It is all about the ability of a society to nurture and cultivate its most brilliant minds. And that is exactly what the Rabin Medical Exchange program is all about.”