“This marks a milestone, being here with all my near and dear ones,” Rhoda Baruch said at the dedication of the Jordan Baruch Stem Cell Research Fund, in memory of her late husband of 67 years. Rhoda Baruch and 21 members of the family attended a special ceremony on Sunday December 30, 2012 at BGU.
“Jordan recognized that here at Ben-Gurion University are the people who walk the extra mile and who are dedicated to the less fortunate. What the people of BGU have in addition to their brilliance and creativity is a sense of compassion and dedication that touched us so much. If anyone can do it, you guys can do it,” she declared.
The late Jordan Baruch (1923-2011) dedicated his life to discovering innovative ways to help others. He passionately supported Israel and BGU, and his influence and support will benefit Israel and the students and faculty of BGU for generations to come. After serving in the US Army during World War II, Jordan attended MIT and earned three degrees before teaching there as an assistant professor in electrical engineering.
Throughout his long and impressive career, he oversaw numerous government contracts and patents, and worked with the National Institutes of Health to create one of the first examples of remote database access, a colorimeter for cardiovascular procedures and a new lighting system used for brain surgery.
Jordan was invited to be the Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Science and Technology for President Carter from 1977-1979 and was instrumental in the creation of the BIRD (Binational Research and Development) Foundation, which fosters research and cooperation between Israel and the U.S.
Jordan and Rhoda contributed to the success of the American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in its early years, founding the D.C. chapter of AABGU in the 1980s, of which Jordan was an active member for the rest of his life. Rhoda continues to serve on the local board. Their magnanimous support throughout the years includes the funding of the Mendel Wasserman Career Development Chair in Desert Studies, named in memory of Rhoda’s father.
“This is a tribute to the life of an influential man, a family man who was an advocate of science and innovation,” Prof. Amos Drory, vice president for external affairs, said at the ceremony, “he transformed visions into practical inventions that helped propel us into the 21st Century. Jordan’s genius was to see the potential in all that he touched.”
“His was a brilliant mind,” said BGU President Prof. Rivka Carmi, “He thought far ahead of most people. His loss is a great loss to mankind, to the DC Jewish community and the AABGU and BGU community. Rhoda, thank you for taking forward his vision.”
Stem cell research stands at the vanguard of worldwide medical research. Together with the still-emerging fields of regenerative medicine and cellular therapy, it is of paramount importance in terms of human biology, promising to help in the treatment and potential cure for debilitating diseases such as diabetes, ALS, Parkinson’s and leukemia.
The Stem Cell Research Fund, named in memory of Jordan Baruch, will embody his innovative spirit. It will support scholarly endeavors in relevant research work on campus and will group together specially chosen medical and pharmacological researchers with stem cell biologists and tissue engineers from the field of biotechnology, facilitating basic scientific inquiry oriented at future clinical applications in the treatment of disease.
Major research programs will have clearly delineated, tangible outcomes of a beneficial nature. Prof. Smadar Cohen, incumbent of the Claire and Harold Oshry Chair in Biotechnology and founding chair of the Avram and Stella Goldstein-Goren Department of Biotechnology Engineering, will oversee the fund in the framework of the new Center for Regenerative Medicine, Cellular Therapy and Stem Cell Research.