Nov. 28, 2017

​A BGU researcher has been awarded a 2017 Joy Academic grant from Joy Ventures to research and develop an empathy-based emotion regulation mechanism for stress relief. BG​N Technologies, the University's technology transfer company, and Joy Ventures will collaborate to market neuro-wellness research findings. 

According to Dr. M​ichael Gilead, the head of the Social Cognitive Neuro Science Laboratory at BGU, “We found that the brain's response to negative-affect-inducing stimuli may be modulated by neural mechanisms that subserve the ability to process the mental states of other individuals. In other words, triggering empathy can help overcome stress in the empathizing person. We will now harness this discovery in order to develop future relief for stress." 

The team will attempt to identify the most effective techniques to trigger empathy, such as imagining the mindset of someone known personally or indirectly. A future next step may be commercializing this mentalizing-based emotion regulation mechanism for stress relief in laboratory and ecological settings, and with a consumer product – possibly an app that will help people to deal better with stress and increase their mental resiliency. 

The first Joy Annual Academic Award was awarded to several promising research projects at a ceremony at Joy Ventures last week. 

“We are looking forward to partnering with Joy Ventures," said Dana Gavish Friedman, VP Entrepreneurship at BGN Technologies. “Stress is one of the most common ailments afflicting the modern world and is a major contributor to reduced wellbeing. It is therefore important that we discover ways to deal with stress that are applicable to the general population." 

“Our mission is to support science-based discoveries in the neuro-wellness field that can be used to improve personal well-being. Joy Ventures funds outstanding academic research in the field and does not claim intellectual property ownership. This successful model is implemented in the pharma industry's interface with academia," says Idan Katz, Chief Operating Officer of Joy Ventures. “Joy Ventures was established with the aim of encouraging the development of science-based consumer products that are accessible and easy to use." 

The annual Joy Ventures 2017 Joy academic grant was established to promote academic research in the emerging field of neuro-wellness. The grants support research efforts that potentially impact human performance and well-being, improve regulation of emotions in personal and social context and increase mental and physical resilience under challenge. The total $1 million annual grant encourages scientific backing for creating knowledge, technology and research methods.  

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Above left to right:  David Ben-Ami, a member of Joy Ventures' board of directors, Dr. Michael Gilead, BGU, Avi Yaron, Joy Ventures CEO, and Idan Katz, Joy Ventures COO at the Joy Annual Academic Award ceremony on November 22 in Herzliya.(Photo Credit: Courtesy)