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It is not yet a full year since Daniel Zajfman began his presidency. In this short period, the Institute has enjoyed a vibrancy, energy and excitement not witnessed for many years. Daniel's leadership and his able and dynamic team of Vice Presidents: Prof. Israel Bar-Joseph, Prof. Mudi Sheves and Gad Kober, led by Prof. Haim Garty, is inspirational. To be in the vanguard of scientific research, it is necessary to look forward and to "think young" – not to be weighed down by conventional wisdom, but to have a fresh, inquisitive mind. Coupled with our relatively young leadership, we are in daily contact with the young scientists training at the Feinberg Graduate School, which in itself motivates us to seek to be "forever young."
This past year, the Institute entered a new phase of growth and development that will, I am confident, lead to even more productive and exciting scientific discoveries than the impressive achievements of its 70-plus years. The esprit de corps on campus is at a new high, and I hope some of this same spirit will be felt by our Board of Governors. In November, Daniel will present to the Board detailed plans for the further development of our scientific activities, and of our campus.
We continue to formulate our vision encompassing the elements of modern, multidisciplinary research in the life sciences. The first step toward attaining this goal has taken the form of a gift from a new friend of the Institute, Lorry Lokey of the U.S. We will establish a new center for astrophysics, thanks to a generous gift from our close and valued friend, Nella Benoziyo. Another wonderful donation, from our friends Helen and Martin Kimmel, will establish a prestigious prize to support outstanding scientists, enabling them to follow their curiosity. Our longtime friend Raoul de Picciotto has made an especially generous contribution to finance the building of a modern, centralized facility for engineering and scientific services.
We have consolidated, under the umbrella of the Davidson Institute, most of our science education activities aimed at the general public and at the country's school system. The Davidson Institute, chaired by Prof. Haim Harari, is the educational arm of the Weizmann Institute of Science, and it includes the Clore Garden of Science, the Young@Science unit and the "Perach" mentoring project. In the Weizmann spirit of emphasizing science education, the representation of our scientists on the Davidson Institute Board – led by Vice President Prof. Israel Bar-Joseph – has significantly expanded. We have appointed a new director: Dr. Ariel Heimann, who has a background in geology and in public service – both in the IDF and in civic positions. We look forward to continuing success in this endeavor, under the leadership of Haim Harari, Israel Bar-Joseph and Ariel Heimann.
In scientific research, a breakthrough is often the trigger for new questions, problems and scientific opportunities. This is why, if we only stay in place, we are effectively moving backward. To succeed, we must constantly move forward.
Today, we stand at several scientific crossroads. How do we best advance the life sciences revolution? How do we combine mathematics, physics and biology so that scientists are able to work synergistically? (And what do you call a mathematician with an experimental laboratory?) How do we provide the best infrastructure for chemical science, in which the terms "nano" and "bio" materials are becoming commonplace? What imaginative combination of disciplines will yield new sources of clean, cheap energy? What is the next frontier in physics, where quantum principles demand totally new mindsets?
The Weizmann Institute's ambience is eminently suited to providing answers to these questions: Mathematicians, physicists, chemists and biologists can sit around one table and forge a new language of science. The answers will most likely be found through all of them working together, developing methods that adapt rapidly to the ever-accelerating momentum of science.
There are at least two well-defined ways to achieve results in scientific research: One can fund either the science or the scientist. Usually, the former approach prevails: The level of funding is determined by the merit of the proposed research. This year, however, we are starting a unique program, one that will support the scientist. With the fantastic help of Helen and Marty Kimmel, we are launching the Helen and Martin Kimmel Award for Innovative Investigation. Each year, for five consecutive years, a carefully chosen Institute scientist will receive generous funding to push forward his or her promising ideas. This is the most proactive way I know to support "high-risk, high-gain" research.
Several other new projects in the pipeline are set to energize research on our campus. Notably, a new center for astrophysics, supported by Nella Benoziyo, will allow us to significantly upgrade our abilities and expand our physical facilities in this exciting field. With the help of Michael Jacobs, we have initiated a special Ph.D. program for physicians to enhance both our basic biological research and the expertise of medical clinicians. And a new nationwide initiative aimed at increasing the number of Israeli women going into academic careers in science has been launched, with the generous support of Dame Vivien Duffield, Donald Sussman, Sara Schupf, Marion Silberberg and Karen Siem.