Chen Kugel: A Life in Forensic Medicine

Chen Kugel: A Life in Forensic Medicine -

Chen Kugel, born on May 14, 1962, is a pathologist and a specialist in forensic medicine. He currently serves as the director of the National Institute of Forensic Medicine.


Chen Kugel is the grandson of Dr. Chaim Kugel, who was the first mayor of Holon, Israel, and the city's founding mayor.

In 1986, he completed his medical studies at the Ben-Gurion University School of Medicine in the Negev, where he pursued his academic ambitions. Following his graduation, he served in the Medical Corps and later specialized in forensic medicine. He achieved the rank of lieutenant colonel and, in the reserves, currently commands the Center for Collecting Data on Casualties for the Israel Defense Forces.

Dr. Kugel began working at the National Institute of Forensic Medicine in 1991. Between 1996 and 1998, he completed rotations in forensic medicine in the United States, England, Australia, and South Africa.

In 2005, he left the National Institute of Forensic Medicine and established Israel's first private institute for forensic medicine services. His retirement was preceded by his complaint about mismanagement under Professor Yehuda Hiss, a complaint that was investigated by the State Comptroller and found to be valid.

During his tenure at the National Institute of Forensic Medicine and as the head of his private institute, Dr. Kugel provided expert testimony in numerous legal cases requiring pathological examination. Among his notable contributions were preparing official opinions on the likelihood of death for captured soldiers Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev shortly after the Second Lebanon War, as well as providing expertise in the case of the tragic death of the child Rose Pizem.

In 2013, Dr. Kugel was appointed as the director of the National Institute of Forensic Medicine.

In addition to his professional work as a pathologist, he teaches at the law and medical faculties of Tel Aviv University and Bar-Ilan University. He is also a member of the board of directors of the Ogen Association, an organization that supports whistleblowers who fear retaliation.

The Fighter Against Corruption

Throughout his career at the National Institute of Forensic Medicine, Dr. Kugel was exposed to parallel activities overseas. Following this exposure, he believed that the institute's activities in Israel were plagued by severe misconduct, including disrespect for the deceased. When his attempts to bring about internal change failed, Dr. Kugel turned to the media.

In 2000, a series of investigations were published in "Yedioth Ahronoth," leading the Minister of Health, Dani Naveh, to establish an inquiry committee headed by a judge that recommended disciplinary action against the institute's director, Professor Yehuda Hiss. Additionally, the institute itself was placed under the supervision of "Assaf HaRofeh" Hospital by the Ministry of Health.

During the committee's work, Dr. Kugel felt that Hiss was attempting to curtail his authority and brought the matter to the attention of the State Comptroller, Eliezer Goldberg, who instructed the Ministry of Health not to harm his position. In recognition of his actions, Dr. Kugel received the "Quality of Government Award" in 2007 in the category of "The Fighter Against Corruption."

Personal Life

Beyond his professional endeavors, Chen Kugel is a jazz enthusiast and pianist who enjoys playing in jazz clubs in Tel Aviv and other cities. He is an openly gay individual who was actively involved with the LGBT+ association (known as Lahav, The National LGBT Task Force) for years and participated as a musician in forming the "Gaysingers," the organization's pride choir. He is also one of the founders of "Pride in the Likud," an LGBT+ group within the Likud party.

Chen Kugel resides in Tel Aviv.

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