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A group of Atlanta medical professionals who are passionate about medical innovation – have just returned from Federation’s inaugural Medical Mission to Israel. The week-long trip showcased Israeli medical achievements and exposed participants to the many ways Israelis think out of the box to solve complex problems. “Innovation appears to be woven into the fabric of Israeli life,” said James Rains, PE, Professor of Practice at Georgia Tech. “Seeing the underground hospital at Rambam that can handle 2,000 patients, or learning how Israel sets up field hospitals in disaster areas, demonstrated an amazing level of preparedness. I was also blown away by the maturity of Israeli young people. After investing 2-3 years in army service, they are problem solvers and team players who are ready to launch careers. We can learn from that.”

Dr. Zachary Bercu, Assistant Professor of Interventional Radiology at Emory, helped plan the trip along with Roey Shoshan, Federation’s Israel and Overseas Director. Dr. Bercu has lived in Israel, and his Israeli-American wife, Sivan, is a physician who specializes in geriatrics and palliative care. “I wanted this group to witness the unusual drive and creativity of Israel’s medical innovation infrastructure and take that spirit home,” he said. “Between Emory and Georgia Tech we already have an incredible innovation ecosystem in Atlanta. Trips like this one help deepen our professional relationships, and the possibilities for future medical innovation are exciting.”

Starla Longfellow, Director of Technology & Innovation at Emory Healthcare, Department of Radiology, was struck by Israel’s capacity to handle adversity. “Visiting the Israel Trauma Center, we saw that Israel uniquely understands trauma and PTSD and shares that knowledge with communities in crisis around the world,” she said. Asked why Israel is known as Startup Nation, Longfellow said her biggest takeaway from the trip was that “Israelis always figure out a way to say ‘yes.’ In the U.S. we often unconsciously look for ways to say ‘no.’ But it’s in the Israeli culture to make the impossible possible.”

The medical mission was such a hit that a second trip is planned for next year, possibly timed to coincide with Israel’s annual Innovation in Cardiology Intervention (ICI). “We met with top level ICI presenters on our trip,” said Dr. Bercu. “It brought us closer to the people who are on the forefront of change, and next year I hope to have twice as many people on the mission.”

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