Hossam Haick

Head of Laboratory for Nanomaterial-Based Devices (LNBD),
Dean of Undergraduate Studies, Technion

Hossam Haick is a Full Professor in the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology and an expert in the field of nanotechnology, smart sensors, and non-invasive biomedical devices. He earned his doctorate from the Technion in 2002. After graduation, he did two 2-year postdoctoral fellowships – first at the Weizmann Institute of Science, and then at California Institute of Technology (Caltech). He returned to the Technion at the end of 2006 as an assistant professor, becoming a full professor in 2011. Prof. Haick has published more than 300 publications in top-level journals in the field of nanotechnology, advanced/applied materials/chemistry, and medicine. Additionally, the technologies developed by Prof. Haick and his team have led to the production of more than 52 patents and patent applications – many of which have been licensed to international companies. Prof. Haick is the cofounder of FeelIT Ltd., NanoVation-S.G. Ltd., and Nanose Medical Ltd..

Prof. Haick was included in more than 80 top-rank listings worldwide, including the Knight of the Order of Academic Palms (conferred by the French Government), the Humboldt Senior Research Award, the “Michael Bruno” Prize, the Changjiang Award, the OXYGEN Award, etc. He was also included in more than 42 important ranking lists, such as the of the world’s 35 leading young scientists by MIT Magazine (2008), top-100 innovators in the world (2015-2018) by various international organizations, etc. Prof. Haick also received the highest teaching awards granted by the Technion, including the “Yanai Prize for Academic Excellence”.

3 questions to Hossam Haick

What do you appreciate most about working at your university and/or your department?

Technion has always encouraged and supported efforts to overcome cross-disciplinary boundaries, something that is required oftentimes to create opportunities for collaborations and exchange of knowledge with the purpose of creating a new product, process, policy, or theoretical interpretation. Technion has always fueled my energy and excitement to develop new technologies or engage in startups as part of their academic career. At a time when societal challenges are demanding discoveries at the intersections of diverse disciplines, the Technion has supported my R&D efforts that were directed to contribute to the poor people in the developing countries. Technion has also helped and supported my team’s efforts in the development of new partnerships with leading companies, foundations, and other research-intensive institutions.

Which topic could you talk about for hours?

Both as a scientist and the dean of undergraduate studies in the Technion, I always love to talk about conclusions that would benefit the young generation of students. Like many others, I look back very fondly on those days – balancing the many demands of work and play. And so – if I could give five pieces of advice for university students, I would say:

  • Do something you are passionate about.
  • Think different: Try and explore new ideas without bringing your old ideas along for the ride.
  • Get as much experience as possible: University is the perfect opportunity to try out new things – new sports or societies, unknown modules or specialisms in your chosen subject, or different roles and responsibilities in a project or team.
  • Expand horizons: students are encouraged to take every opportunity to expand their consciousness.
  • Embrace failure: By embracing failure, students are accepting themselves and their situation as a part of life.

What project or endeavour are you looking forward to?

In the advent of extreme industrialization, bio-warfare, pesticide and nuclear waste, the dependence on “natural regeneration” becomes unrealistic in today’s world when an environmental or healthcare catastrophe occurs. According to the EU policy, three main principles are needed to combat the environmental and healthcare issues: (i) precaution; (ii) prevention and rectifying pollution/disease at source; and (iii) monitoring the related process dynamically. This needs a global scale monitoring of the environment/human body from billions of implanted sensors everywhere and every time. However, before taking such feasible step to counteract and to make earliest decision making, detailed information of wide array of substances (such as, accidental leakage of biochemicals and obnoxious volatile organic compounds, pesticide from agriculture, sudden outbreaks of bio-warfare) from the atmosphere need to constantly monitor from wide range of area encompassing local to global scale. This mammoth amount of data generated from sensor hardware needs to create effortlessly and autonomously anywhere and anytime both in local and global scale with minimum human intervention. However, such organized sensor network demands: (i) unification and miniaturization of wide range micro-detectors integrated in one platform which can recognize array of substances as mentioned before, (ii) low-cost scalable and printable production; and (iii) highly efficient distributed and decentralized computing system and AI based data processing.

In the front of these challenges, my group develop disruptive ultra-miniaturized chemical scanners that could be suspended everywhere in our daily life (indoor, outdoor, building, human body, plants, etc.) to analyse in-situ the widest spectrum of chemical compounds in a local environment, exactly as analytical lab do. Such system would bring remarkable proliferation both as individual systems as well as network of systems that communicate between them and probably other mobile devices over large surface areas to identify health risks, optimize agricultural production, and manage supply chains.

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