President Obama stood before the United Nations General Assembly Wednesday – in the same place he stood last year to make a bid for Palestinian statehood within the year – only this time, to plead his case against recognition of the Palestinian Authority from the U.N. Security Council.
The Obama Administration has come under intense scrutiny for what many have perceived as a lack of support for Israel. And recently, Republican presidential frontrunner, Gov. Rick Perry, blasted Obama for fostering a policy of “appeasement” in the Middle East, by demanding concessions from the Jewish state and empowering the Palestinian Authority to seek statehood.
Now, I’m no politician, but to me, this is a very important issue for many reasons. Israel stands for many things: democracy, human rights, culture and strong religious values. But what stands out most in my mind, as a doctor, are the important contributions that Israeli scientists and researchers have made to the practice of medicine.
Israel has many universities and institutions that are on the cutting edge of medical research. Biotechnology, biomedical and clinical research account for more than half of all scientific publications in Israel. Hadassah University and Weizmann Institute have produced scientists and Nobel laureates responsible for the research and development of important medical advances and lifesaving therapies.
Israel also leads the world in stem cell research with important breakthroughs in repairing tissue and organs damaged by Parkinson’s disease, spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries, heart disease, cancer and countless other diseases. The possibilities in this field of medicine are almost endless.
Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, headquartered in Israel, is the largest generic drug manufacturer in the world and has made a huge impact on the effort to drive down drug costs for patients here in the U.S. and across the globe. But they have also developed proprietary drugs to treat debilitating diseases like Copaxone and Laquinimod for the treatment of multiple sclerosis, and Rasagiline for the treatment of Parkinson's disease.
Patients suffering from Parkinson’s disease have benefited from an Israeli-developed drug, which has also shown promise in helping to delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. Also developed in Israel is the PillCam, a disposable, miniature video camera contained in a capsule that can be ingested to help doctors diagnose gastrointestinal disorders.
Israeli researchers have also made enormous contributions to fertility treatment, plastic surgery and biotechnology development fields of medicine. They developed the first biological computer, and as a result, a new, revolutionary device that can detect breathing disorders during sleep to help prevent sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
The Neuromedical Electrical Stimulation Systems Ltd. (NESS), a glove-like device that can stimulate movements in a paralyzed arm or hand, was designed at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel.
New Israeli-developed imaging technology is allowing doctors to track the progress of small medical devices used during surgery, and cryotherapy is enabling the removal of breast tissue masses and tumors without the need for invasive surgery.
Cancer patients are benefiting from LifeMel Honey, made in an Israeli laboratory by bees fed with therapeutic nectar, and used to reduce anemia and build the immune system of patients undergoing chemotherapy.
Nanotechnology is what many medical professionals consider to be the future of medicine, and Israeli scientists are leading the charge. Nanotechnology is changing the way we look at treating deadly diseases like cancer. Organ transplants may one day become a thing of the past, as special growth factors based on nanotechnology have proven to help grow healthy cells in a diseased organ.
So you see, the world of medicine would look very different today without the contributions of Israeli scientists working to improve our health and quality of life. It’s important to recognize the impact this small state has made and look to preserve the very fabric of the democracy that made it possible.
FoxNews.com's Jessica Mulvihill contributed to this report.
Dr. Manny Alvarez serves as Fox News Channel's senior managing health editor. He also serves as chairman of the department of obstetrics/gynecology and reproductive science at Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey. For more information on Dr. Manny's work, visit AskDrManny.com.