The Israel Presidents and Prime Ministers Memorial Prize was awarded to the Weizmann Institute of Science by the country’s president Shimon Peres for preserving the heritage of its first president, Dr. Chaim Weizmann. The Institute was honored for initiating a program that brings back to Israel outstanding young scientists living abroad.
Dr. Maya Schuldiner, one of the 34 scientists who joined the Weizmann Institute faculty during the past three years, said: ‘Six months ago, my husband Oren (who has also become a senior scientist at the Weizmann Institute) and I returned to Israel after our postdoctoral studies in San Francisco. Even though we enjoyed living in this beautiful city, which has some of the best universities in the world, not a day went by that we didn’t miss Israel. Other Israelis we met there also missed home. To my disappointment, and to theirs, many of them will not return home, as this would jeopardize their job satisfaction, their standard of living and the level of education for their children. The Weizmann Institute enables us to engage in world-class science – with the same equipment and under the same conditions as those available at the best universities in the world – without giving up on our identities, without losing the possibility of raising our children as Israelis, and without having to miss our country. If only as many young Israeli scientists as possible could be as lucky as we are, and be able to return home.’
The Weizmann Institute of Science, named after Israel’s first president Dr. Chaim Weizmann, decided to invest substantial resources and effort in providing young scientists with the ability to conduct research in Israel, so as to try and counteract the phenomenon known as ‘brain drain’: young Israeli scientists who go abroad to do their postdoctoral research and decide to remain overseas after receiving tempting job offers. In the wake of this decision, the Weizmann Institute spent some $ 30 million on offering positions to 34 outstanding young Israeli scientists and financing their absorption at the Institute: the establishment of a laboratory, purchase of research equipment and salaries for several laboratory workers and students. The Institute also funded each scientist’s move back to Israel, including the plane trip home for his or her entire family. Most scientists were offered on-campus housing – a particularly important component for those spending long hours in the lab. A kindergarten run by a steering committee comprising mainly scientist mothers was built on the Institute campus for the benefit of the many young scientists who are parents of preschool-age children. The kindergarten serves meals to the children and provides them with care till the late hours of the afternoon.
The Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel, is one of the world's top-ranking multidisciplinary research institutions. Noted for its wide-ranging exploration of the natural and exact sciences, the Institute is home to 2,600 scientists, students, technicians and supporting staff. Institute research efforts include the search for new ways of fighting disease and hunger, examining leading questions in mathematics and computer science, probing the physics of matter and the universe, creating novel materials and developing new strategies for protecting the environment.
Weizmann Institute news releases are posted on the World Wide Web at http://wis-wander.weizmann.ac.il, and are also available at http://www.eurekalert.org