BOG 2019: Aufzien Family Center for the Prevention and Treatment of Parkinson’s Disease Inaugurated

The Center brings scientists and clinicians together to develop life-changing therapies for Parkinson’s disease
24 July 2019
From left: Prof. Nir Galili; Prof. Karen Avraham; Prof. Joseph Klafter; Leslie Levine and Jonathan Aufzien. Photo: Chen Galili

Neurodegeneration is the modern epidemic – it is responsible for millions of patients suffering from Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s, Huntingdon disease and other devastating brain disorders.  To help advance understanding and potentially find a cure for Parkinson’s, TAU has established the Aufzien Family Center for the Prevention and Treatment of Parkinson’s Disease.


The Center was inaugurated at the 2019 Board of Governors Meeting in the presence of siblings Jonathan Aufzien and Leslie Levine, together with Jonathan’s son, Jacob. The Center was founded by their parents, Alan and Norma Aufzien, with the siblings’ instrumental support.


The Aufzien Family Center will augment Parkinson’s research being conducted on campus and at affiliated hospitals, galvanizing a community of scientists and clinicians specializing in the field toward the development of novel drugs, therapies and diagnostic technologies.


The Center will enable over 20 outstanding TAU scientists and clinicians to substantially advance basic and clinical research in Parkinson’s and other neurodegenerative diseases. In parallel, the Center will build on the extensive resources already in place at TAU to support the development of new drugs, including the Sagol School of Neuroscience, Blavatnik Drug Discovery Center and the Ramot business engagement company. It will also reinforce the University’s ties with its affiliated hospitals, enabling scientists and clinicians to augment one another’s knowledge.


The Center will support a dedicated research associate, award competitive research grants and fellowships and hold an annual conference that will provide a platform for grantees to present their research in Israel and abroad. In addition, an annual lecture series will bring an internationally acclaimed scientist to TAU.


At the inauguration ceremony, outgoing TAU President Joseph Klafter said, “This project continues a long Aufzien tradition of building up Tel Aviv University’s capabilities. Since joining the TAU family three decades ago, Alan and the family have generously sponsored fellowships, medical research, Middle Eastern studies and the Alan and Norma Aufzien Tel Aviv University Projects Fund,” noted Prof. Klafter.


“Alan has a rich history of personal involvement with the University. He is a TAU Governor and served as Chairman of our American Friends Association (AFTAU). Under his leadership, AFTAU broadened its activities, recruited new supporters, reformed its structure and increased its support of teaching, research and student aid at the University,” said Prof. Klafter. “Your family’s support has been the bedrock of Tel Aviv University growth and it’s so heartwarming to see the second and even third generation of Aufziens celebrating with us here,” said Prof. Klafter. 


​​​Speaking on behalf of the family, Jonathan Aufzien said, “Our parents and grandparents, Alan and Norma Aufzien, have lived and demonstrated their values by supporting many Jewish and Israeli causes over the last 60 plus years. Many of you know them for their involvement with Tel Aviv University throughout the years, and you therefore know of their tireless efforts to strengthen the University,” said Mr. Aufzien. “Unfortunately, neither our father nor our mother was able to join us today. Noni, as our mother is called, has been suffering from Parkinson’s disease for many years.”​


Norma (left), Alan and Lisa Aufzien


“This Center promises to become a comprehensive platform to organize and build up the many current research efforts and to establish Tel Aviv University as a worldwide leader in Parkinson’s research,” said Aufzien. “This is not the start, but the continuation of our parents’ efforts, as in 1999, they established the Norma & Alan Aufzien Chair for Research in Parkinson’s and neurodegenerative diseases here at TAU. We hope that this new Center will lead to the development of life-changing therapies.”


The Center is co-directed by Prof. Karen Avraham, Vice Dean of the Sackler Faculty of Medicine and holder of the Drs. Sarah and Felix Dumont Chair for Research of Hearing Disorders, and Prof. Nir Giladi of the Sackler Faculty of Medicine and Chairman of the Department of Neurology at the Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center.


Prof. Giladi, who is the principal investigator at the Center, is a renowned leader in the field of gait, cognition and genetics of Parkinson’s disease. His research examines the unique population of Ashkenazi Jews living in Israel who are at particularly high risk for developing Parkinson’s due to the high frequency of seven genetic mutations.


Also present were Vice President of Resource Development Amos Elad and Dean of Medicine Ehud Grossman. The guest speaker was Prof. Michael Hayden, MD, Killiam Professor of Medical Genetics, University of British Columbia and Distinguished Professor, National University of Singapore, and Former President of Global R&D of Teva.



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