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How can we ensure that scientific research continues to progress? We are all too familiar with the fact that research is a long process, its course often fraught with failures and “road-blocks.“ A scientist must not only have deep knowledge of the issues he or she tackles, but also patience, tenacity and a strong drive to succeed. These are the basic qualities we demand of our scientists. But even the most “virtuous“ scientist depends today more than ever on scientific infrastructure, equipment and team work. For this reason, we have a duty to keep our eyes on the future and to develop the resources of the Institute, be they physical or human.
We are in the midst of upgrading and developing both our human resources and our physical facilities. If we want to play a leading role in scientific research in the coming decades, as we have done for the past 60 years, we must be able to foresee at least some of our future needs. The developments we are presently undertaking are based on the core philosophy of the Institute: We are a people-driven place. The vision behind our campus evolution focuses on providing superior facilities that will best serve those who use them and that will also attract the brightest possible people – whether they are scientists, students, engineers or staff.
We are in the process of completing one of the larger central facilities to grace the campus: The Lorry I. Lokey Preclinical Research Facility, a unique structure that has the potential to catapult our life science research to new heights. This building, with its sophisticated laboratories and bio-imaging equipment, will soon become a central feature of our biomedical activities, offering our scientists fresh possibilities that will trigger exciting new opportunities in the field. It will be the only facility of its kind in Israel, and one of very few in the world.
We have also been busy with the construction of the new Feinberg Graduate School building, which will house the graduate academic center of the Institute. This building will provide our students with up-to-date support, modern auditoriums and centralized information. Our students will also soon benefit from two new research schools we have established: The Dwek Family Research School of Chemical Science and the Lorry I. Lokey Research School of Biochemical Science. Both schools will provide much needed support for our graduate students, enabling them to participate in conferences in Israel and abroad, exposing them to a wider range of subjects, and helping them to acquire essential equipment, develop their own initiatives and enhance their experience working in the Institute’s various laboratories. Even as we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Feinberg Graduate School, we continue to look ahead, making the Institute an appealing choice for the future students who are so central to our mission.
The Physics Faculty is also getting its share of renewal with the new Nella and Leon Benoziyo Building and Center for Astrophysics, and the establishment of the Crown Photonics Center. Both will provide support for some of this faculty’s core research, and we have recently hired several new young scientists working in these areas. We expect to see a growth in activity in both fields in thecoming years.
A centralized facility that provides all the engineering and technical support for the scientific activity at the Institute has long been one of our dreams. That dream will now be transformed into reality through the generosity of Raoul de Picciotto, as we are now starting the construction of the Raoul and Graziella de Picciotto Building for Scientific and Technical Support. This building will be the headquarters for all those dealing with construction, maintenance, engineering, purchasing and many other related activities. It will significantly boost the technical services available to the scientific laboratories and improve the maintenance of our infrastructure.
This year, we have also launched a major new effort in science teaching. With the help of the Caesarea Edmond Benjamin de Rothschild Foundation, we are starting a special program to reinforce mathematics, physics, biology and chemistry education in high schools. The Caesarea Program will offer master’s degrees in science education to outstanding high school and middle school science and math teachers. The curriculum, prepared by the Weizmann Institute faculty, will include studies designed to broaden and deepen scientific knowledge, meetings with scientists working at the cutting edge of scientific research and practice in applying innovative approaches to teaching. Participants will also conduct research in the field of science teaching and gain firsthand experience in leading original educational initiatives. This program, together with the enhanced activities and funding of the Davidson Institute of Science Education (through the generosity of Bill Davidson), will strengthen our impact on education – once again demonstrating that education is the best possible investment one can make.
I have been fortunate to be joined in leading the Institute by a superb team. Without the dedicated efforts of all of the vice presidents – Prof. Haim Garty, Prof. Mudi Sheves, Prof. Israel Bar-Joseph and Gad Kober – none of these ambitious projects would have been accomplished. The admirable synergy among the Deans has also been a key point in our ability to move forward with many new ideas. The work of the wonderful team of people who support the Institute in Israel and abroad has been critical as well. I have to admit that the determination I have found among friends and supporters to make this place a “temple of excellence“ has been extremely rewarding. Mandy Moross, the chairman of the board, has been for me an example of such determination. I thank everyone who has contributed to this period of progress for their incredible support, as well as for their conviction.
Accompanying the stories in this year’s Annual Report are images of our scientists in places that are dear to them all over the country – visual proof that wherever you go in Israel, the Weizmann Institute is there. This Annual Report coincides with the 60th birthday of Israel – a country the Weizmann Institute has helped make the land of milk, honey and science.