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For the past 60 years, Weizmann scientists have been proving that bold ideas can succeed. Starting from the creation of the Institute by Chaim Weizmann, through the building of the first computer in Israel and years of groundbreaking research initiatives that have strongly influenced the face of global science, the Institute’s scientists have demonstrated that boundless human curiosity is the best creative fuel. Every day of these 60 years, we have been "looking forward."
If there is one take-home message in the Institute’s history, it is that quality pays off. We must continue to come up with bold ideas, take risks and think out of the box, so that those who celebrate the 120th anniversary will look back with the same awe we feel today for the accomplishments of the last 60 years.
There is much to look forward to, indeed. Over the last few years, we have invested in a variety of imaginative new projects and ideas. With the completion of the Lorry I. Lokey Preclinical Research Facility, and the upcoming construction of the Nella and Leon Benozyio Building for Biological Chemistry, we are in the midst of a major physical expansion in biomedical research. Together with the transformation of the Kekst Family Center for Medical Genetics into a major Institute and the addition of new young scientists to the faculties of Biology and Biochemistry, we are positioning ourselves to lead in these fields for decades to come.
Mathematics and computer sciences are getting closer to biology every day. Institute mathematicians are setting up their own "wet" laboratories to study the behavior of complex biological systems, bringing not only new methods to the field, but a new way of thinking. I can see lots of new opportunities here – some that have yet to be explored.
An additional field of research that is developing rapidly centers on the Faculty of Chemistry, but it bridges nanotechnology and biology – "nano-bio."
We have recently taken the decision to build a new facility, which will be available to scientists working on the boundary where nanotechnology, biology, materials science and even physics meet. Chemistry is also at the nexus of our energy and environment efforts, and the new Scholl Center for Water and Climate will provide much-needed support for these critical issues.
The Crown Photonics Center and the Nella and Leon Benozyio Center for Astrophysics have started operations; both are also supporting a critical number of new scientists.
The new Feinberg Graduate School building, now finished, provides students and staff with modern facilities and a new auditorium. Imbedded in the graduate school are our first three research schools: the Lorry I. Lokey Research School of Biochemical Science, the Solo Dwek and Maurizio Dwek Research School of Chemical Science and the new Moross Research School of Mathematics and Computer Science. These schools, and the unique support they
provide, will make the Weizmann Institute of Science the most attractive place in Israel for pursuing an advanced science degree.
Construction of the Raoul and Graziella de Picciotto Building for Scientific and Technical Support has commenced. This building will centralize all of the technical and engineering operations that support science at the Institute. We have a superb team of people, and this building will give them not only a new home, but the modern environment and advanced tools they need to meet the everincreasing requirements of scientific research.
We recently started the transformation of the Wix Library into a conference center and meeting rooms. This is the first step in developing a major conference facility on the campus of the Institute, so that many of the scientific conferences our scientists organize can take place on site. The second step will be the construction of a hotel.
Overall, this has not been an easy year; I can safely predict that the next one will not be much easier. The global financial roller-coaster makes the launching of much-needed new initiatives difficult. But the Institute is blessed with a strong base and many supporters. I have no doubt that working together, we will overcome the ups and downs to prepare the Institute for the next generation of scientists and the next scientific breakthrough that will change our lives.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Vice Presidents, who have been working day and night to keep the Institute on track. Without the dedication of Prof. Haim Garty, Prof. Mudi Sheves, Prof. Israel Bar-Joseph and Gad Kober, as well as the outstanding team spirit of the Deans, none of this would have been possible. With them, it is not only possible, but enjoyable as well! We’re also backed up by the superb commitment of the Chairman of the International Board, Mandy Moross, and the Chairman of the Executive Board, Ido Dissentshik, both of them providing the "ropes" that allow us to climb the mountain.
I would also like to thank Gad Kober, Vice-President for Administration and Finance, who is leaving us at the end of this year. Gadi has made a tremendous impact on the Institute, both as a legal adviser and as Vice President. He will leave behind him a legacy that we will all be able to enjoy for generations to come.