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New York – August 19, 2015 --Hadassah Medical Organization (HMO), in partnership with the Hebrew University, has established the first interdisciplinary university-based autism center in the Middle East. “Hadassah is proud to contribute to the inauguration of a world-class health facility that is the first of its kind in the entire region,” says Marcie Natan, Hadassah’s national president.
“One in 80 children in Israel suffers from Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD),” relates Prof. Eitan Kerem, head of Pediatrics at Hadassah. “The health services are fragmented and focus mainly on palliative care. This innovative center will focus on accruing and disseminating knowledge for research, professional development, clinical care, and community engagement in the field of autism. This will be the only center in Israel that will provide a comprehensive and holistic approach to children and adults suffering from autism.”
“Currently,” Prof. Kerem explains, “research is done by various scientists who are interested in the field; however, they are from disparate disciplines that focus on different aspects of autism. The Center will bring all the multidisciplinary research together from within the Hebrew University and integrate it with the clinical expertise and experience of Hadassah’s medical professionals.”
Bringing together this cutting-edge research, clinical experience, state-of the-art training, and education for both professionals and parents will, in turn, lead to better clinical practice, public programming, policies in support of those who deal with ASD, and will be a reservoir of help for families and caregivers. “There is a tremendous need for a facility like this in the Middle East, and the hospital will do much to improve the state of autism research all over the world,” said Marcie Natan.
An interdisciplinary center which bridges several faculties within the Hebrew University and Hadassah Medical Center, it will be anchored in the Hadassah-Hebrew University’s Faculty of Medicine. “Our goal in establishing the Autism Center,” explains Prof. David Lichtstein, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine at Hebrew University, ”is to lead Israel and the Middle East in research, training, clinical services, and community engagement for the benefit of individuals with ASD and their families. By bringing together the relevant disciplines at Hebrew University, including medicine, social work, and education, and combining them with the clinical excellence of Hadassah hospitals, the Autism Center will be positioned to achieve important breakthroughs in the research, diagnosis, and treatment of autism.”
According to the Hebrew University, while some universities in the Middle East have extensive autism research programs and others have specific associations with clinical services, none approximates this comprehensive, collaborative model. The Autism Center aims to learn from and work with existing centers worldwide, and to grow to serve as a model by expanding on current models of interdisciplinary research and service.
Hadassah is the largest Jewish women’s organization in the United States. With 330,000 members, associates and supporters across the country, Hadassah brings Jewish women together to effect change and advocate on criticalissues such as medical care and research, women's empowerment, and the security of Israel. Through the Hadassah Medical Organization's (HMO) two hospitals, the world-renowned trauma center and the leading research facility in Jerusalem, Hadassah supports the delivery of exemplary patient care to over a million people every year. HMO serves without regard to race, religion or nationality and earned a Nobel Peace Prize Nomination in 2005 for building “bridges to peace” through equality in medical treatment. For more information, visit www.hadassah.org.