Ben-Gurion University of the Negev
Recent publications
Recent studies show that conflict situations are a quite frequent reality in schools. These conflict occurrences can be attributed, among other things, to the lack of conflict resolution skills among school personnel. This paper presents a mixed methods study aimed to evaluate the effect of the “Mind the Conflict” intervention model on novice teachers’ self-awareness and sense of efficacy in conflict situations, as well as their ability to express empathy toward the “other” in the conflict. The study sample comprised 61 teachers, aged 25–55, most of them females, drawn from primary public schools across Israel. Forty-two teachers were trained in the model as part of an Induction into Teaching course (experimental group). Nineteen teachers who took an unrelated course constituted the control group. Data sources included pre-post questionnaires administered to both groups, and final papers gathered from the experimental group. Results showed that at the end of the course, teachers exposed to the model reported significantly higher empathy levels in conflict situations, and that this ability was a significant predictor of their sense of efficacy in these situations. These findings were supported by data from the qualitative analysis. Possible contributions stemming from the use of the model for novice teachers are discussed.
Background In response to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, Project HOPE®, an international humanitarian organization, partnered with Brown University to develop and deploy a virtual training-of-trainers (TOT) program to provide practical knowledge to healthcare stakeholders. This study is designed to evaluate this TOT program. Objective The goal of this study is to assess the effectiveness of this educational intervention in enhancing knowledge on COVID-19 concepts and to present relative change in score of each competency domains of the training. Methods The training was created by interdisciplinary faculty from Brown University and delivered virtually. Training included eight COVID-19 specific modules on infection prevention and control, screening and triage, diagnosis and management, stabilization and resuscitation, surge capacity, surveillance, and risk communication and community education. The assessment of knowledge attainment in each of the course competency domain was conducted using 10 question pre-and post-test evaluations. Paired t-test were used to compare interval knowledge scores in the overall cohort and stratified by WHO regions. TOT dissemination data was collected from in-country partners by Project Hope. Results Over the period of 7 months, 4,291 personnel completed the TOT training in 55 countries, including all WHO regions. Pre-test and post-test were completed by 1,198 and 706 primary training participants, respectively. The mean scores on the pre-test and post-test were 68.45% and 81.4%, respectively. The mean change in score was 11.72%, with P value <0.0005. All WHO regions had a statistically significant improvement in their score in post-test. The training was disseminated to 97,809 health workers through local secondary training. Conclusion Innovative educational tools resulted in improvement in knowledge related to the COVID-19 pandemic, significantly increasing the average score on knowledge assessment testing. Academic – humanitarian partnerships can serve to implement and disseminate effective education rapidly across the globe.
Background: In 2005, Clalit Health Services (CHS), the largest health maintenance organization in Israel, initiated an intervention program aimed at reducing the prevalence rate of infantile anemia (IA). This study evaluated the progress made during the intervention (2005-2014) and its yield 5 years after it ended (2019). Methods: The CHS database was retrospectively reviewed twice yearly from 2005 to 2014 for repetitive samples of children aged 9 to 18 months regarding the previous half-year interval, and a single sample in 2019. Data were collected on gender, ethnicity (Jewish/non-Jewish), socioeconomic class (SEC; low/intermediate/high), hemoglobin testing (yes/no), and hemoglobin level (if tested). Excluded were infants with documented or suspected hemoglobinopathy. Results: At study initiation, the rate of performance of hemoglobin testing was 54.7%, and the IA prevalence rate was 7.8%. The performance rate was lower in the Jewish than the non-Jewish subpopulation. The low-SEC subpopulation had a similar hemoglobin testing rate to the high-SEC subpopulation but double the IA prevalence rate. Overall, by the end of the intervention (2014), the performance rate increased to 87.5%, and the AI prevalence rate decreased to 3.4%. In 2019, there was little change in the performance rate from the end of the intervention (88%) and the IA prevalence was further reduced to 2.7%. The non-Jewish and low-SEC subpopulations showed the most improvement which was maintained and even bettered 5 years after the intervention ended. Conclusions: The 10-year IA intervention program introduced by CHS in 2005 led to a reduction in IA prevalence rate to about 3.5% in all sub-populations evaluated. By program end, the results in the weaker subpopulations, which had the highest prevalence of IA at baseline, were not inferior to those in the stronger subpopulations. We recommended to the Israel Ministry of Health to adopt the intervention countrywide, and we challenge other countries to consider similar interventions.
Background Infectious keratitis is a major cause of global blindness. We tested whether standalone photoactivated chromophore corneal cross-linking (PACK-CXL) may be an effective first-line treatment in early to moderate infectious keratitis, compared with standard antimicrobial treatment. Methods This is a randomized, controlled, multinational phase 3 clinical trial. Participants in five centers in Egypt, India, Iran, Israel, and China, aged ≥ 18 years, with infectious keratitis of presumed bacterial, fungal, or mixed origin, were randomly assigned (1:1) to PACK-CXL, or antimicrobial therapy. Outcomes measures included healing, defined as time to re-epithelialization of the corneal epithelial defect in the absence of inflammatory activity in the anterior chamber and clearance of stromal infiltrates. Treatment success was defined as the complete resolution of signs of infection. Results Between July 21, 2016, and March 4, 2020, participants were randomly assigned to receive PACK-CXL (n = 18) or antimicrobial therapy per American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) guidelines (n = 21). No participants were lost to follow-up. Four eyes were excluded from the epithelialization time analysis due to treatment failure: two in the antimicrobial therapy group, and two in the PACK-CXL group. Success rates were 88.9% (16/18 patients) in the PACK-CXL group and 90.5% (19/21 patients) in the medication group. There was no significant difference in time to complete corneal re-epithelialization ( P = 0.828) between both treatment groups. Conclusions PACK-CXL may be an alternative to antimicrobial drugs for first-line and standalone treatment of early to moderate infectious keratitis of bacterial or fungal origin. Trial registration This trial is registered at, trial registration number: NCT02717871
The accurate simulation of additional interactions at the ATLAS experiment for the analysis of proton–proton collisions delivered by the Large Hadron Collider presents a significant challenge to the computing resources. During the LHC Run 2 (2015–2018), there were up to 70 inelastic interactions per bunch crossing, which need to be accounted for in Monte Carlo (MC) production. In this document, a new method to account for these additional interactions in the simulation chain is described. Instead of sampling the inelastic interactions and adding their energy deposits to a hard-scatter interaction one-by-one, the inelastic interactions are presampled, independent of the hard scatter, and stored as combined events. Consequently, for each hard-scatter interaction, only one such presampled event needs to be added as part of the simulation chain. For the Run 2 simulation chain, with an average of 35 interactions per bunch crossing, this new method provides a substantial reduction in MC production CPU needs of around 20%, while reproducing the properties of the reconstructed quantities relevant for physics analyses with good accuracy.
Background In 2013–2014, Israel accelerated adoption of activity-based payments to hospitals. While the effects of such payments on patient length of stay (LoS) have been examined in several countries, there have been few analyses of incentive effects in the Israeli context of capped reimbursements and stretched resources. Methods We examined administrative data from the Israel Ministry of Health for 14 procedures from 2005 to 2016 in all not-for-profit hospitals (97% of the acute care beds). Survival analyses using a Weibull distribution allowed us to examine the non-negative and right-skewed data. We opted for a Bayesian approach to estimate relative change in LoS. Results LoS declined in 7 of 14 procedures analyzed, notably, in 6 out of 7 urological procedures. In these procedures, reduction in LoS ranged between 11% and 20%. The estimation results for the control variables are mixed and do not indicate a clear pattern of association with LoS. Conclusions The decrease in LoS freed resources to treat other patients, which may have resulted in reduced waiting times. It may have been more feasible to reduce LoS for urological procedures since these had relatively long LoS. Policymakers should pay attention to the effects of decreases in LoS on quality of care. Stretched hospital resources, capped reimbursements, retrospective subsidies and underpriced procedures may have limited hospitals' ability to reduce LoS for other procedures where no decrease occurred (e.g., general surgery).
Estrogen may have opposing effects on health, namely increasing the risk of breast cancer and improving bone health by increasing bone mineral density (BMD). The objective of this study was to compare dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) BMD between women newly diagnosed with breast cancer and matched controls without breast cancer. Women newly diagnosed with breast cancer treated between April 2012 and October 2017 were prospectively enrolled. A control group was established of women with negative mammography or breast ultrasound, matched 1:1 by age, body mass index, parity, and the use of hormone replacement therapy. All those included had DXA BMD, and lab assessments at enrollment. Of 869 women with newly diagnosed breast cancer, 464 signed informed consent. Of the 344 who completed the study protocol, 284 were matched to controls. Overall, the mean age was 58 years. Compared to the control group, for the breast cancer group, the mean vitamin D level was lower (48.9 ± 19.0 vs. 53.8 ± 28.8 nmol/L, p = 0.022); and mean values were higher of total hip BMD (0.95 ± 0.14 vs. 0.92 ± 0.12 g/cm ² , p = 0.002), T score (−0.38 ± 1.17 vs. −0.68 ± 0.98, p = 0.002), and Z score (0.32 ± 1.09 vs. 0.01 ± 0.88, p < 0.001). Among the women with breast cancer, no correlations were found of baseline BMD with tumor size or grade, nodal involvement, or breast cancer stage. We concluded that women with newly diagnosed breast cancer tend to have higher BMD than women with similar characteristics but without breast cancer. This implies that BMD might be considered a biomarker for breast cancer risk.
The ATLAS experiment at the Large Hadron Collider has a broad physics programme ranging from precision measurements to direct searches for new particles and new interactions, requiring ever larger and ever more accurate datasets of simulated Monte Carlo events. Detector simulation with Geant4 is accurate but requires significant CPU resources. Over the past decade, ATLAS has developed and utilized tools that replace the most CPU-intensive component of the simulation—the calorimeter shower simulation—with faster simulation methods. Here, AtlFast3, the next generation of high-accuracy fast simulation in ATLAS, is introduced. AtlFast3 combines parameterized approaches with machine-learning techniques and is deployed to meet current and future computing challenges, and simulation needs of the ATLAS experiment. With highly accurate performance and significantly improved modelling of substructure within jets, AtlFast3 can simulate large numbers of events for a wide range of physics processes.
Neuroblastoma (NB) accounts for 15% of cancer-related deaths in childhood despite considerable therapeutic improvements. While several risk factors, including MYCN amplification and alterations in RAS and p53 pathway genes, have been defined in NB, the clinical outcome is very variable and difficult to predict. Since genes of the mechanistic target of rapamycin (mTOR) pathway are upregulated in MYCN -amplified NB, we aimed to define the predictive value of the mTOR substrate-encoding gene eukaryotic translation initiation factor 4E-binding protein 1 ( EIF4EBP1 ) expression in NB patients. Using publicly available data sets, we found that EIF4EBP1 mRNA expression is positively correlated with MYCN expression and elevated in stage 4 and high-risk NB patients. In addition, high EIF4EBP1 mRNA expression is associated with reduced overall and event-free survival in the entire group of NB patients in three cohorts, as well as in stage 4 and high-risk patients. This was confirmed by monitoring the clinical value of 4EBP1 protein expression, which revealed that high levels of 4EBP1 are significantly associated with prognostically unfavorable NB histology. Finally, functional analyses revealed that EIF4EBP1 expression is transcriptionally controlled by MYCN binding to the EIF4EBP1 promoter in NB cells. Our data highlight that EIF4EBP1 is a direct transcriptional target of MYCN whose high expression is associated with poor prognosis in NB patients. Therefore, EIF4EBP1 may serve to better stratify patients with NB.
Regulating sodium and water balances is crucial for survival of small, desert mammals. Studies demonstrate that the gut microbiota and their metabolites are involved in host energy homeostasis, but little is known on the interactions among salt loading, gut microbiota, and osmoregulation. The aim of this study was to fill this gap. Mongolian gerbils ( Meriones unguiculatus ) were offered drinking water (Con) and either water containing moderate (4%, MS) or high NaCl (8%, HS) ad libitum. Intake of HS reduced α diversity of the microbial community and, at the genus level, reduced the relative abundances of Rikenella and Christensenella but increased Atopobium . To confirm the function of gut microbiota in host osmoregulation, we transplanted caecal microbiota in HS gerbils. To cope with salt loading, the gerbils concentrated urine, resulting in negative energy balance and systemic inflammation. The HS gerbils increased hypothalamic arginine vasopressin and intestinal and renal aquaporin 2 to support water retention, and reduced intestinal and renal epithelial sodium channel α to promote sodium excretion. However, HS gerbils with caecal microbiota transplant (CMT) from Con donors maintained energy balance and osmoregulation, and had a much reduced systemic inflammation. Further, CMT from Con donors to HS recipients reshaped the gut microbiota, particularly by reducing Parabacteroides distasonis and Prevotella copri , and increasing Lactobacillus reuteri abundances, with a resulting increase in bacterial metabolites such as butyrate. These findings highlight a vital role of the microbiota-gut-kidney axis in mediating salt-related osmoregulation, allowing small mammals to adapt to high salt loads in a desert habitat.
Background We aim to analyze the characteristics of incidences of missing surgical items (MSIs) and to examine the changes in MSI events following the implementation of an MSI prevention program. Methods All surgical cases registered in our medical center from January 2014 to December 2019 were retrospectively analyzed. Results Among 559,910 operations, 154 MSI cases were reported. Mean patient age was 48.67 years (standard deviation, 20.88), and 56.6% were female. The rate of MSIs was 0.259/1000 cases. Seventy-seven MSI cases (53.10%) had no consequences, 47 (32.41%) had mild consequences, and 21 (14.48%) had severe consequences. These last 21 cases represented a rate of 0.037/1000 cases. MSI events were more frequent in cardiac surgery (1.82/1000 operations). Textile elements were the most commonly retained materials (28.97% of cases). In total, 15.86% of the cases were not properly reported. The risk factors associated with MSIs included body mass index (BMI) above 35 kg/m ² and prolonged operative time. After the implementation of the institutional prevention system in January 2017, there was a gradual decrease in the occurrence of severe events despite an increase in the number of MSIs. Conclusion Despite the increase in the rate of MSIs, an implemented transparency and reporting system helped reduce the cases with serious consequences. To further prevent the occurrence of losing surgical elements in a surgery, we recommend educating OR staff members about responsibility and obligation to report all incidents that are caused during an operation, to develop an event reporting system as well as "rituals" within the OR setting to increase the team's awareness to MSIs. Trial registration (NCT04293536). Date of registration: 08.01.2021. .
Background Halophila stipulacea seagrass meadows are an ecologically important and threatened component of the ecosystem in the Gulf of Aqaba. Recent studies have demonstrated correlated geographic patterns for leaf epiphytic community composition and leaf morphology, also coinciding with different levels of water turbidity and nutrient concentrations. Based on these observations, workers have suggested an environmental microbial fingerprint, which may reflect various environmental stress factors seagrasses have experienced, and may add a holobiont level of plasticity to seagrasses, assisting their acclimation to changing environments and through range expansion. However, it is difficult to tease apart environmental effects from host-diversity dependent effects, which have covaried in field studies, although this is required in order to establish that differences in microbial community compositions among sites are driven by environmental conditions rather than by features governed by the host. Results In this study we carried out a mesocosm experiment, in which we studied the effects of warming and nutrient stress on the composition of epiphytic bacterial communities and on some phenological traits. We studied H. stipulacea collected from two different meadows in the Gulf of Aqaba, representing differences in the host and the environment alike. We found that the source site from which seagrasses were collected was the major factor governing seagrass phenology, although heat increased shoot mortality and nutrient loading delayed new shoot emergence. Bacterial diversity, however, mostly depended on the environmental conditions. The most prominent pattern was the increase in Rhodobacteraceae under nutrient stress without heat stress, along with an increase in Microtrichaceae. Together, the two taxa have the potential to maintain nitrate reduction followed by an anammox process, which can together buffer the increase in nutrient concentrations across the leaf surface. Conclusions Our results thus corroborate the existence of environmental microbial fingerprints, which are independent from the host diversity, and support the notion of a holobiont level plasticity, both important to understand and monitor H. stipulacea ecology under the changing climate.
MDMA (3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine), a synthetic ring-substituted amphetamine, combined with psychotherapy has demonstrated efficacy for the treatment of chronic posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) patients. This controlled prospective study aimed to assess the bio-behavioral underpinnings of MDMA in a translational model of PTSD. Rats exposed to predator-scent stress (PSS) were subjected to a trauma-cue at day 7 shortly after single-dose MDMA injection (5 mg/kg). The elevated plus maze and acoustic startle response tests were assessed on day 14 and served for classification into behavioral response groups. Freezing response to a further trauma-reminder was assessed on Day 15. The morphological characteristics of the dentate gyrus (DG) and basolateral amygdala (BLA) were subsequently examined. Hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis and 5-hydroxytryptamine involvement were evaluated using: (1) corticosterone measurements at 2 h and 4 h after MDMA treatment, (2) Lewis strain rats with blunted HPA-response and (3) pharmacological receptor-blockade. MDMA treatment was effective in attenuating stress behavioral responses only when paired with memory reactivation by a trauma-cue. The effects of the treatment on behavior were associated with a commensurate normalization of the dendritic cytoarchitecture of DG and BLA neurons. Pretreatment with RU486, Ketanserin, or Pindolol prevented the above improvement in anxiety-like behavioral responses. MDMA treatment paired with memory reactivation reduced the prevalence rate of PTSD-phenotype 14 days later and normalized the cytoarchitecture changes induced by PSS (in dendritic complexities) compared to saline control. MDMA treatment paired with a trauma-cue may modify or update the original traumatic memory trace through reconsolidation processes. These anxiolytic-like effects seem to involve the HPA axis and 5-HT systems.
Background Hand hygiene compliance by health care workers (HCWs) is pivotal in controlling and preventing health care associated infections. The aim of this interventional study is to assess the long-term impact of personal verbal feedback on hand hygiene compliance of HCWs in an intensive care unit (ICU) immediately after overt observation by an infection control nurse. Methods An infection control nurse overtly observed HCWs’ hand hygiene compliance and immediately gave personal verbal feedback with emphasis on aseptic technique. Overt non-interventional sessions were also performed. We measured compliance rates using covert continuous closed-circuit television (CCTV) monitoring. We compared these rates to previously-published hand hygiene compliance data. Results Overall compliance rates in the first (41.5%) and third phases (42%) of the study, before and after the intervention were similar. The two moments that were lowest in the first phase, “before aseptic contact” and “after exposure to body fluids”, showed significant improvement, but two moments showed a significant decline in compliance: “before patient contact” and “after contact with patient surrounding”. The compliance rates during the intervention phase were 64.8% and 63.8% during the sessions with and without immediate verbal personal feedback, respectively. Conclusion The overall hand hygiene compliance rate of HCWs did not show an improvement after immediate verbal personal feedback. Covert CCTV observational sessions yielded much lower hand hygiene compliance rates then overt interventional and non-interventional observations. We suggest that a single intervention of personal feedback immediately after an observational session is an ineffective strategy to change habitual practices.
Study objective This study was aimed to assess the association between the use of epidural analgesia during labor and mother-infant bonding. Design A cross-sectional study. Setting Maternity ward at Soroka University Medical Center during 2020. Patients Women who delivered a singleton live-born infant vaginally in their immediate post-partum period. Interventions Women completed questionnaires. 25 items post-partum bonding questionnaire (PBQ) to assess mother-infant bonding (A high score on the PBQ indicates impaired mother-infant bonding) and the Edinburgh postnatal depression scale (EPDS) questionnaire to assess risk for post-partum depression. Measurements The study used PBQ questionnaire and four sub-scales to assess mother-infant bonding and the EPDS questionnaire to assess risk for post- partum depression. Generalized linear regression models (gamma) were constructed to examine the association between epidural analgesia and mother-infant bonding total score and impaired bonding sub- scale, while adjusting for confounders Additional information such as pregnancy complications and sociodemographic data was drawn from women's medical records. Main results A total of 234 women were included in the final analysis, of them 126 (53.8%) delivered with epidural analgesia. The total PBQ score was significantly lower among women who received epidural analgesia compared to women without epidural analgesia (7.6 vs. 10.2, p = 0.024), demonstrating a better mother -infant bonding. Using two multivariable linear regression models, controlling for confounders such as maternal age and educational status, epidural analgesia during labor was independently associated with a better mother -infant bonding total score and better impaired bonding sub-scale score (Beta coefficient-0.252, 95% CI -0.5; −0.006, p = 0.045 and Beta coefficient − 0.34, 95% CI -0.52; −0.08, p = 0.01 for mother-infant bonding total score and sub-scale score, respectively). No differences in post-partum depression risks were found between the groups (EDPS≥13, 5.7% vs. 13%, p = 0.058). Conclusion Our study demonstrated better mother -infant bonding among women delivering with epidural analgesia.
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10,953 members
Tirza Routtenberg
  • Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
Zvi Boger
  • Department of Information Systems Engineering
Irina S. Khokhlova
  • French Associates Institute for Agriculture and Biotechnology of Drylands
Zeev Ronen
  • Zuckerberg Institute for Water Research (ZIWR)
Eli Hershkovitz
  • Pediatrc Endocrinology Unit
84105, Beersheba, Israel
Head of institution
Prof. Rivka Carmi