E. Ike Eshaghian Foundation gives $1.8 million to Technion

The E. Ike Eshaghian Foundation has given $1.8 million to the American Technion Society to help kidney research at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa.

The grant will be used for three core projects that address the causes and complications of a broad range of kidney disease, according to the release from the Technion society.

The foundation was started by the late Eshagh Eshaghian, who was trained as a petro-chemical engineer at the University of Texas, made his fortune in the antiques business and later in real estate.

Here’s the release:

Gift from Eshaghian Foundation Helps Link Genetics and Kidney Disease

NEW YORK, NY (May 15, 2009) — A $1.8 million gift to The American Technion Society (ATS) from the E. Ike Eshaghian Foundation in memory of its namesake, Eshagh Eshaghian, and his first wife, Ashraf of New York, will support kidney disease research at the Haifa-based Technion-Israel Institute of Technology.

The Eshagh and Ashraf Eshaghian Genetics of Kidney Disease Research Fund will help Technion scientists study the disease, which remains under-diagnosed and under-treated even in sophisticated healthcare settings, let alone in poorer countries. "My husband Eshagh had an affinity for high technology and science ever since he was a young man in Tehran," said his second wife, Mahrokh Songhorian Eshaghian, who facilitated completion of the gift.

The Eshaghian Fund will be used primarily to support three core projects that address the causes and complications of a broad range of kidney disease. Specifically, research will explore the role of mitochondrial DNA in renal failure, the role of genes regulating calcium and phosphate levels in kidney disease, and the genetics of kidney stone disease and hereditary disorders of renal tubule function.

Research will be coordinated and led by Prof. Karl Skorecki of the Technion Faculty of Medicine nephrology department, along with medical professionals from affiliated hospitals. Prof. Skorecki has an extensive track record of clinical and research accomplishments in both nephrology and genetics, and is well known for his breakthrough work with stem cells.

The projects emanate from recent developments in human genetics, in which Technion scientists have played a major role, and will serve as a template for continuing research in related areas. Findings by Prof. Skorecki and colleagues could lead to potential solutions that will have a general public health impact — identifying mechanisms that protect individuals from the debilitating, often catastrophic disease.

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Mr. Eshaghian, himself a recipient of a kidney transplant, was a Jewish immigrant from Tehran who came to the United States as a young adult in the early 1950s to follow his dream of a career in science and technology.

After earning his master’s degree from the University of Texas at Austin, he spent several years as a petro-chemical engineer. Later, Mr. Eshaghian’s family followed him, settling in New York City, where he eventually joined their burgeoning carpet and antique business. He spent the last 25 years of his life as a partner with his father and brother in their real estate development and management firm.

Throughout his varied career, Mr. Eshaghian maintained an active interest in scientific pursuits along with a belief in and love for higher education, and often shared his enthusiasm with his rabbi. It was during these conversations that he learned about the Technion.

"He wanted to make a difference, to help Israel. Our rabbi told Eshagh about the Technion’s achievements in science and technology, and how they were helping Israel become a leader in the field," noted Mahrokh.

According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, an estimated 13% of American adults — more than 26 million people — are living with kidney disease, and most are unaware of their condition. This figure is up 30% from previous estimates.

There are nearly half a million patients on dialysis in the United States alone, with tens of thousands awaiting transplants. Transplant waiting times worldwide have increased steadily and are now measured in years, with many patients dying before receiving a kidney transplant.

The Technion-Israel Institute of Technology is Israel’s leading science and technology university.  Home to the country’s winners of the Nobel Prize in science, it commands a worldwide reputation for its pioneering work in nanotechnology, computer science, biotechnology, water-resource management, materials engineering, aerospace, and medicine. The majority of founders and managers of Israel’s high-tech companies are alumni.

Based in New York City, the American Technion Society (ATS) is the leading American organization supporting higher education in Israel, with offices around the country.
 

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