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Higher Education in Israel: Weizmann Institute of Science


One of the top multidisciplinary research institutions in the world, the Weizmann Institute in Rehovot grew out of the Daniel Sieff Research Institute, which was founded in 1934 with just ten scientists and ten technicians by Israel and Rebecca Sieff in memory of their son. The driving force behind its establishment was the Institute’s first president, Dr. Chaim Weizmann, a noted chemist who later became the first president of Israel. On November 2, 1949, with the agreement of the Sieff family, the Institute was renamed and formally dedicated as the Weizmann Institute of Science.

In 2005, the Weizmann Institute was voted the best university in the world for life scientists to conduct research. The poll was conducted by The Scientist magazine as part of its third annual 'Best Places to Work in Academia' survey. The survey found that scientists at the Institute had good relationships with their peers, satisfaction with their work, and ample resources for conductng research.

Chaim Weizmann believed that scientific development in Israel would help shape the future of the state, and would also provide economic benefits. Yeda Research and Development, the commercial arm of Weizmann Institute, shows that revenues generated from the Institute and science in Israel continues to grow every year. It has become a world leader in the commercialization of patents. In 1988, revenues from royalties were $1 million; in 1998, $16 million; in 2003, $93 million. However, generating revenue is not the main reason why the Weizmann Institute exists.

Professor Haim Garty stated to the Israeli press, “It would be inconceivable that we would develop a scientific field because it is a source of revenue. I would prefer that a researcher from the Institute win a Nobel Prize rather than register another patent.”

New drugs at the Institute are being developed to help cure serious diseases such as multiple sclerosis and ostereoporosis. Since 1997, American doctors have been prescribing Copaxone to MS patients, which was created and developed at the Institute. The manufacturing company Teva recently signed an agreement with Israeli company Proneuron to explore the use of Copaxone for glaucoma and other neuro-degenerative diseases. A vaccine for Hepatitis B s another product developed by scientists at the Institute. Innovative developments in medicine and life sciences at the Weizmann Institute will only continue because of the determination of its staff to serve Israel and the world.

As of 2013, the Weizmann Institute had five faculties - mathematics & computer science; physics; chemistry; biochemistry; and, biology - as well as seventeen departments, a graduate school and 50 mutlidisciplinary centers.

The Weizmann Institute was ranked fourth out of 200 global research institutions inspiring innovation and new inventions by the 2017 Nature Index; the only non-U.S. institution placing in the top ten.  The rankings were based on the number of cited articles produced by researchers at each particular institution, and the relative contribution of individual authors to the publications.  The top three research institutions in the rankings were the Scripps Research Institute in San Diego, Rockefeller University, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).  

Sources: Mitchell G. Bard and Moshe Schwartz, 1001 Facts Everyone Should Know About Israel, (Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2005).
Sharon Kanon and ISRAEL21c staff, Weizmann Institute chosen world's top university for life scientists, Israel21c, (November 8, 2005).
Catherine Offord, Nature Index Identifies Top Contributors to Innovation, The Scientist, (August 10, 2017).

Photos courtesy of the Publications and Media Relations Department, Weizmann Institute of Science.
Dr Mitchell Bard.