Harvey and Ellen Knell and the gift of giving

Special events

Date: March 20, 2019
Weizmann Magazine Vol. 15
Inaugurating the Knell Center, L-R: Harvey and Dr. Ellen Knell, Prof. Rotem Sorek, Prof. Daniel Zajfman

Inaugurating the Knell Center, L-R: Harvey and Dr. Ellen Knell, Prof. Rotem Sorek, Prof. Daniel Zajfman

Dr. Ellen and Harvey Knell are dedicated friends and advocates for the Weizmann Institute of Science. Harvey serves on the American Committee’s Board of Directors, and is the Vice Chair for Financial Resource Development. In addition, he served as the chair for the American Committee’s 75th anniversary ‘Transforming Tomorrow’ campaign. 

Ellen and Harvey established the Knell Family Professorial Chair in 2013, of which Prof. Yardena Samuels is the first incumbent. Prof. Samuels, of the Department of Molecular Cell Biology, is making headlines with her research on ultra-personalized treatments for melanoma. The Knells have also made substantial development gifts in support of the Weizmann UK Building for Biocomplexity Research. 

Their most recent donation established the Knell Family Center for Microbiology, which will be headed by Prof. Rotem Sorek from the Department of Molecular Genetics. The new center will support a multidisciplinary group of researchers, as they unearth the basic tools necessary to improve human health and build sustainable environments.

“At first we thought to make our donation to Weizmann anonymously,” says Harvey Knell. “On reflection, we decided it would be better to act so as to encourage others to do so, too. We’re making ‘giving’ a value to our children, giving them the ‘gift’ of giving, the opportunity to make a difference.”

“The more time we spend with Weizmann scientists, the more we appreciate the brilliance that goes into their research,” says Ellen Knell. “We want to help alleviate the burden of grant writing, and get them collaborating.”

As for why the Knells chose to support the field of microbiology, Ellen and Harvey agree: “The potential benefits are limitless—increased food production, and many other possibilities.”

Prof. Rotem Sorek is supported by the European Research Council, the Knell Family Center for Microbiology, and the David and Fela Shapell Family Foundation INCPM Fund for Preclinical Studies.