“The Weizmann Institute, for me, has always been a symbol of the best in research. It was founded by a man with a true vision for all the sciences – from biology, to chemistry to mathematics, and others. On this campus, there are around 2000 people working together in different disciplines to advance science.” These were the words of Christopher Reeve to tens of journalists, who flooded him with questions. Reeve chose to open his tour of Israel with a visit to the Weizmann Institute of Science, following his long standing acquaintance with Prof. Michal Schwartz, a leading researcher in trauma and injury in the central nervous system, specifically in the spinal cord. He has met with Prof Schwartz in the past, when she came to his home, at his request, and gave him a progress report on her research. This time the wheelchair bound actor decided to return the visit and see Prof. Schwartz in the place where she carries out her research.
In the first part of the visit to the Weizmann Institute of Science, Reeve met with the Dean of the Faculty of Biochemistry, Prof David Mirelman, who reviewed for him the varied research activities carried out in the Institute. Afterwards, he met with Prof. Schwartz and the members of her research team. From them, he heard details of the research that has led to the development of an experimental technique for treating spinal cord injuries, which is presently being applied to humans in clinical trials. These meetings took place in the Davidson Institute for Science Education.
After the meetings, a press conference was held in the “Barvaz” auditorium in which Reeve described his great esteem for Israel in general, and the Weizmann Institute in particular: “Israelis are famous for their curiosity, their intellect, and their desire for knowledge, and that is very evident here, on the campus of the Weizmann Institute,” said Reeve. “But there’s also a personal aspect to my visit, because, after my injury, I had the honor of meeting Professor Michal Schwartz. She told me about a theory she had. A lot of people thought that it was a crazy idea, but most of the great ideas that have succeeded were at one time considered to be crazy, so I was fascinated by what she had to say. I have tracked her progress over the years and her success is exemplary. I simply wanted to come here and express my gratitude and admiration. There’s a phrase in Hebrew; it says something I’ve believed ever since my injury: ‘Hakol Efshari’ – Everything is possible.”