The Charles Bronfman Prize Names Dr. Amitai Ziv as 2007 Recipient

The Charles Bronfman Prize will award Dr. Amitai Ziv its 2007 humanitarian prize. Ziv, 48, is the founder and director of the Israel Center for Medical Simulation (MSR), and Deputy Director of Sheba Medical Center, the largest and most comprehensive medical institution in Israel.

The $100,000 prize celebrates the vision and talent of an individual or team under 50 years of age, whose humanitarian work has contributed significantly to the betterment of the world. Its goal is to bring public recognition to young, dynamic individuals whose Jewish values infuse their humanitarian accomplishments and provide inspiration to the next generations.

In announcing the recipient, the founders of the Prize commented, “We are thrilled to pay tribute to Amitai Ziv, who embodies the very qualities that have guided our father throughout his lifetime. Dr. Ziv represents the best of the young generation’s values, commitment, creativity and energy. His insightful and innovative work responds to the imminent need for reshaping the way medical care is delivered throughout the world.”

Ziv will receive the award in a New York ceremony on May 1st, where judges James Wolfensohn, former President of the World Bank, Dan Meridor, who served as Israel’s Minister of Justice and Minister of Finance, and Rosalie Silberman Abella, Supreme Court Justice from Canada, are expected to participate.

His experience as an Air Force combat pilot became the catalyst for Ziv’s adaptation of flight simulation training to the field of medical training. Launched in 2001, MSR became the first interdisciplinary, multi-modality center of its kind. Today it serves as the model on which some of the finest medical institutions around the world are developing their own simulation centers.

An important goal of MSR is to reduce the frequency of medical errors that take place in the health system. In the United States alone, as many as 98,000 people die each year from medical errors, more than the number who die annually from car accidents, breast cancer and AIDS combined, and the equivalent of a Boeing 747 crashing every day.

In order to address the problem of patient safety in medicine, MSR uses innovative methods to train health professionals and assess their skills. Sophisticated computer-enhanced mannequins look, feel and react like humans. They exhibit vital signs like heart rate, blood pressure and oxygen saturation and can bleed, convulse or go into shock and respond to treatment. When errors are made, they are made on patient simulators, not human beings. In addition, actors are trained to simulate a vast range of medical scenarios. Sessions are videotaped and debriefings allow errors to be studied, enhancing good judgment and greater sensitivity to the human elements of patient care.

Together with the IDF Medical Corps, MSR is responsible for simulation-based trauma management training of medical teams being called to military duty, as well as broad-based training of health professionals to improve their preparedness for biological and chemical attacks on civilian and military populations. MSR simulates battlefield conditions where “patients” are treated for traumatic injuries in field conditions.

Under Ziv’s leadership, MSR — along with the Schools of Medicine at Tel Aviv University and the Technion Institute of Technology and the National Institute of Testing and Evaluation — have fundamentally changed the process of admission to several of Israel’s top medical schools by creating a simulation-based screening process to evaluate candidates. Instead of relying solely on applicants’ cognitive skills, this screening process evaluates the candidates’ judgment and inter-personal traits in ways that standardized testing cannot predict.

Ziv’s expertise in medical education has been tapped throughout the world. He has testified before the U.S. Congress on MSR’s methods for preparing medical professionals for response to mass casualties caused by chemical and biological attack, and has briefed the Department of Homeland Security on emergency medical simulation techniques.

Ziv has been sought after by North America’s leading teaching hospitals as they develop their own simulation-based medical education. He has been invited to give Grand Rounds at institutions worldwide, including Mayo Clinic, Case Western Reserve University, McGill University and the Albert Einstein Medical Center in Brazil. Ziv is a clinical senior lecturer at the Department of Behavioral Sciences of the Tel Aviv University Medical School. He has been nominated as an Adjunct Associate Professor at Mayo Clinic and at Case Western Reserve University.

Reflecting on his personal experience with Ziv, William Dunn, Director of Mayo Clinic’s simulation center, said, “The impact and accomplishments of Ziv are unsurpassed by any other physician dedicated to medical education. His tireless efforts have given birth to the pre-eminent center in medical education, utilizing the revolutionary and powerful means of experiential education. He has established a facility unlike any in the world. He’s had an incalculable worldwide impact.”

“Dr. Ziv’s impressive career has been characterized by outstanding performance, leadership and excellence in all endeavors,” said Professor Ze’ev Rotstein, Director General of Sheba Medical Center, and Ziv’s nominator for the Prize. Under Amitai’s direction, MSR has received awards including “Team of the Year” by Israel’s Ministry of Health, which recognized MSR’s contribution to Israel’s healthcare preparedness for medical emergencies, and the prestigious Israeli Civil Service Commission’s “Outstanding Team of the Year for 2003.”

Charles Bronfman commented on the selection of Ziv as this year’s recipient.

“I love creativity. Amitai Ziv was a fighter pilot who applied the lessons learned in flight simulation to that of his chosen profession of medicine. His pioneering effort in the education of young doctors is the kind of creative breakthrough that my children sought to identify and honour when they established the Prize.”

James Wolfensohn, Chair of the selection committee, commented that “Amitai Ziv has the extraordinary ability to synthesize knowledge drawn from varied disciplines and to find innovations in one based on lessons learned from another. His work is remarkable and has led to great practical gains in medical education. True to the Jewish ideals that inspired him, Dr. Ziv leveraged the lessons he learned as a defender of Israel’s security to devote his life to healing the world.”

Former Minister Dan Meridor added, “Dr. Ziv has drawn on his life experience to change the face of Israel’s medical education. And now he is shaping the way medical training is conducted worldwide, using simulation to enhance the human dimension of medicine in ways that can make every healthcare professional more effective. His contribution to the quality of patient care will have a profound impact for generations.”

Ziv has helped develop many national training programs. In collaboration with Israel’s Ministry of Health, the Histadrut, and other social and medical organizations, MSR trains medical staff to identify and report domestic abuse against children, women and the elderly.

In cooperation with Physicians for Human Rights and Sheba Medical Center, MSR trained Palestinian physicians and paramedics in trauma management.

Together with Beit Midrash Kolot, MSR initiated Ailing and Healing, a unique program that trains Israeli caregivers to acquire the tools for the spiritual support of chronically and terminally ill patients and their families, combining Jewish textual study, group discussions and simulation-based training sessions that focus on specific issues such as human errors, aging, pain and life-threatening illness.

Upon learning of the award, Amitai Ziv said, “I am humbled by this honor, especially because the Prize is dedicated to Charles Bronfman, who has devoted his life to supporting the efforts of others in the name of improving the world. I have been blessed with an outstanding team at MSR and countless partners around the world who share a vision for creating a safer and more humane medical environment. This prize, which I share with my colleagues, further validates our work. It provides a tremendous boost to our efforts and will reverberate in numerous ways.”

Ellen Bronfman Hauptman and Andrew Hauptman together with Claudine Blondin Bronfman and Stephen Bronfman, founded The Charles Bronfman Prize in honor of their father’s 70th birthday. They are the Trustees of The Charles Bronfman Prize Foundation, a United States 501(c)(3) corporation headquartered in New York, which administers the Prize.