The World of Science Salutes the Weizmann Institute



Science's leading lights at the Institute


David Baltimore, President, California Institute of Technology:

Caltech salutes the Weizmann Institute, founded in a moment of optimism and devoted to excellence. It has never lost its commitment to the highest values of science and technology. Its success in a mere 50 years is in fact a marvel.

In the next decades, we will see the applications of science fuse ever more tightly to the discovery process, blurring the distinction between applied and basic science. We will see a growing impact of science on the most intimate aspects of daily life, altering how we communicate, shop for goods, even how we conceive children.

Institutions like Weizmann and the others represented on this platform will have special responsibilities both to generate the future and to help guide the societies in which we live to absorb these new perspectives and ensure that they are used for the benefit of all humankind.

Maxine Singer, President, Carnegie Institution of Washington, D.C.:
In 1971, I was anxious to initiate new research in animal systems with an animal virus. Ernest Winocour, here at the Institute, had one of the best labs in the field, and I came on sabbatical. I entered Israel from a ferry in Haifa harbor, along with an orange VW minibus that was packed with one husband, four children, and lots of luggage.

To this day, my knowledge of Weizmann and its work is constantly refreshed. Exciting research, that engages the most active scientific topics worldwide, is presented each year, reminding me of how essential change is to a research institution; change in facilities and in research directions, capitalizing on new opportunities, ideas, and technologies. The Weizmann of today is very different from what it was 30 or 20 or even 10 years ago, and it will again be different in a few years time.

Luciano Maiani, Director General, European Laboratory for Particle Physics (CERN), Geneva:
It is a great honor for me to salute the Weizmann Institute on its 50th Anniversary. We all recognize the Institutes prominent position across an enormous front of basic research. I have great respect for the Institute and its capacity to transmit knowledge, education, and technology. This is an example that CERN hopes to emulate in the coming years.

Today an important group of Weizmann Institute physicists are at CERN, preparing experiments that will be performed with the Large Hadron Collider. What will be found? I dont know. Maybe new symmetries, or new layers of realities. In any case, these three dimensions: engagement in basic science, engagement in transmitting knowledge and technology, and international collaboration, are key aspects of the Weizmann Institute.

Hans Wigzell, President, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm:
As a kid, I remember that there was a mythical institute somewhere to the southeast - the Weizmann Institute. Then its people started flying into Stockholm. They validated their reputation of being not only brilliant scientists but also having fantastic color. Leo Sachs came, for instance. Then came Michael Feldman, Michael Sela, and Irun Cohen. I think that an institute that can produce and house this colorful array of scientists is fantastic and would say that the future of the Weizmann Institute is brilliant.

Hubert Markl, President, Max Planck Society, Munich:
It is my pleasure and honor to bring the congratulations of the German scientists and especially of the Max Planck Society to the Weizmann Institute on its 50th Anniversary.

The rise of this magnificent Institute from humble beginnings to one of the pinnacles of international scientific prominence may seem like one of those cosmological wonder stories where, out of an energetic vacuum, new worlds arise.

It is now almost 40 years since the fruitful scientific collaboration between Max Planck and Weizmann scientists first began. In this cooperation, Weizmann is for Max Planck more than a conventional international partner. It is a most challenging benchmark, to which we gladly pay tribute.

Maxime Schwartz, Director General, Institut Pasteur, Paris:
While we are celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Weizmann Institute of Science, this commemoration corresponds with that of the 25th anniversary of this Institutes association with the Institut Pasteur. The collaboration started, or so the legend goes, from a conversation that took place in an airplane between our great virologist and Nobel Prize winner, Andre Lwoff and the famous immunologist from this Institute, Michael Sela. This collaborations success stemmed from the friendship and mutual respect that existed, the strong interest of both institutes in immunology, and the tireless efforts of one man, Robert Parienti, who managed to raise the funds necessary for collaboration, year after year.

One of the most outstanding collaboration projects concerns the ongoing research for a cancer vaccine. The purpose is to teach the cells of the immune system to recognize and kill cancer cells.

Phillip Griffiths, Director, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, New Jersey:
I am honored to join you at this Jubilee celebration to salute both the pioneering statesman and scientist for whom this Institute is named and those of you who carry out his vision with such vigor and leadership. Each year the Institute for Advanced Study receives a continuous flow of visiting members from the Weizmann Institute, who bring us fresh thinking and new energy.

Some of the most exciting modern science takes place at the intersections between traditional disciplines. The Weizmann Institute has understood this and created a series of interdisciplinary research centers that provide a model for other institutes and universities worldwide. In a world that is changing rapidly, perhaps too rapidly for some of us, you have shown that it is possible to keep up with change through brilliant innovations.

Arnold J. Levine, President, Rockefeller University, New York:
My first visit to the Weizmann Institute was in 1977. I was very much looking forward to it since at the time I studied viruses and this was a mecca for virology.

A highlight of my trip to the Institute was meeting a very young graduate student who was in Ernest Winocours lab  Moshe Oren, who is a professor here today. Moshe was interested in pursuing a postdoctoral position at my laboratory at Princeton University. It took me all of one minute to figure out that this would be a wonderful relationship.

Moshe arrived at my laboratory in 1979, a momentous year for my laboratory with the discovery of a protein that interacted with the Simian Virus 40 tumor virus. We thought that the protein, which we named p53, was connected to cancer, but did not dream that it would also be an important factor in the origins of human cancer.

Moshe took on the most difficult task we could ask of him, to clone the gene encoding the p53 protein. Afterwards, we began a ten-year period as friendly competitors, trying to determine the function of this protein. And in 1989, using a derivative of the gene uncovered by Moshe, Hert Vogelstein at Johns Hopkins University found that mutations in this gene were present in human cancer.