Koret grant will aid animals via computer

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Would-be veterinarians in the Jewish state have been learning their profession from models and books and then by perfecting their techniques on live animals.

But now, through a grant of $401,000 from the S.F.-based Koret Foundation, students at Israel's only veterinary school will learn diagnostic and surgical techniques with computers, interactively in three dimensions.

That means medical skills initially will be learned on screens rather than animals at the Hebrew University Koret School of Veterinary Medicine.

"The computer simulations will greatly improve veterinary education and, at the same time, eliminate laboratories," says Richard Goldstein, a graduate of the school who now specializes in small-animal internal medicine at U.C. Davis.

"In Israel there is increasing sensitivity to veterinary ethics and animal protection organizations," notes Goldstein, who hopes eventually to return to the Israeli school to teach. "This grant turns that sensitivity into action."

Daphna Noily, regional director of the American Friends of the Hebrew University, elaborates. "The Koret award will create a computer lab that will enable the school to use the wide range of teaching software currently available and to be prepared for future programs," she says.

Included in the grant is $215,000 to air-condition the first floor of the school, which is located on a hot coastal plain in Bet Dagan outside Tel Aviv.

"This will make the facility more comfortable for the animals — as well as students and faculty," says Susan Koret, foundation chair. The newer second floor already is air-conditioned.

In addition to the computer lab, the grant will provide full computer access for a staff communication network, and the installation of databases as well as medical, business and scientific library software. It also will allow imaging, surgery, lab tests, hospitalization histories and medical records to be computerized.

According to Koret, "the veterinary school has always had a very humane approach. But this grant will further improve the quality of life for the 7,000 animals a year that are undergoing treatment and healing in its state-of-the-art environment."