The 66th Annual General Meeting of the International Board
The opening gala of the 66th Annual General Meeting honored Nancy and Stephen Grand of San Francisco, celebrating their visionary gift to establish the Nancy and Stephen Grand Israel National Center for Personalized Medicine.
It was the couple’s largest philanthropic gift to date.
“We don’t call it a gift,” said Nancy Grand at the event. “We call it an investment. We are thrilled to be part of this effort.”
Nancy described how, eight years ago, Stephen was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, and was told that his likelihood of survival was slim. He was prescribed Velcade® - a drug based on research breakthroughs by the Technion’s Profs. Aharon Ciechanover and Avram Hershko—and he went into complete remission. The Grands’ gratitude for Velcade® and its origin in basic science, and for Israeli science in general, she said, led to their philanthropic involvement with the Technion and the Weizmann Institute, where they previously established the Nancy and Stephen Grand Center for Sensors and Security.
The closing gala was a celebration of the leadership of Mandy Moross, Chair of the International Board, who stepped down after nine years in that role. The gala also celebrated the milestone anniversaries of the Weizmann Institute committees around the world: the 80th anniversary of the Daniel Sieff Institute honoring Weizmann UK; the American Committee’s 70th anniversary; Weizmann Canada’s 50th, the Israeli Friends’ 40th, and the Mexican Friends’ 30th.
Newly established chairs
Donors and scientists alike were honored for five newly established chairs at the Festive Open Session of the International Board. Sisters Rachel Schwartz, Marla Buck, and Nancy Buck established the Roel C. Buck Career Development Chair with its first incumbent, Dr. Ravid Straussman of the Department of Molecular Cell Biology. “We know that this CDC was the right way to honor our father,” who was a donor to the Weizmann Institute, said Rachel Schwartz. “He had a strong attachment to Israel and he was an entrepreneur - so the connection to the Weizmann Institute is a fitting match.”
“For us it is a privilege to be part of the Weizmann Institute family. We are honored, and a little bit in awe. We feel especially blessed,” said Larry Marks, who, with his wife Dr. Gladys Monroy, established the Monroy-Marks Career Development Chair, held by Dr. Assaf Tal of the Department of Chemical Physics, and the Monroy-Marks Career Research Associate Chair, held by Dr. Tali Scherf. Larry and Gladys are co-chairs of the Bay Area Region of the American Committee for the Weizmann Institute of Science.
Dr. Gil Omenn and his brother Neil established the Leah Omenn Career Development Chair in honor of their mother, with Dr. Ayelet Erez as its first incumbent.
Robin Chemers Neustein established the Robin Chemers Neustein Chair with Prof. Nirit Dudovich of the Department of Physics of Complex Systems as the first incumbent.
Former Ambassador to U.S. Dr. Michael Oren
speaks at Clore Lunch
Dr. Chaim Weizmann was a political entrepreneur who knew how to take advantage of opportunity when he saw it - even in the midst of the chaos of the 20th century, said Dr. Michael Oren, Israel’s former ambassador to the U.S. This is the lesson in leadership that Israel’s first president and the founder of the Weizmann Institute offered us, Dr. Oren added in his keynote speech at the Clore luncheon on November 10.
The state Dr. Weizmann helped establish has followed in this form, the historian and author added. “Creativity and innovation is enabling us to grapple with and survive threats and emerge from them with a high-functioning society,” said Dr. Oren.
Dame Vivien Clore Duffield presented the 2014 Sir Charles Clore Prize in Research to Dr. Ofer Firstenberg, a new recruit to the Department of Physics of Complex Systems. She also awarded 10 Clore Postdoctoral Fellowships to recent PhD graduates in science from Israeli universities.
Breakfast of scientific champions
At a breakfast celebrating the establishment of the Abramson Family Center for Young Scientists, funded by Pennie and Gary Abramson of Washington, six new recruits shared similar stories about their decision to accept positions heading labs at the Weizmann Institute: The Institute’s reputation as one of the best places in the world to do interdisciplinary scientific research, combined with the draw of home and family and returning to Israel after postdoctoral studies abroad.
“For 30 years, Pennie has been an exceptional leader both locally, in the Washington area, and nationally, engaging new friends and, together with Gary, generously supporting the Institute,” said Prof. Daniel Zafjman. “They have always understood that it is excellent scientists who do excellent science.”
Dedication of the Nancy and Stephen Grand
Israel National Center for Personalized Medicine
In the presence of the founding donors, the Weizmann Institute dedicated the Nancy and Stephen Grand Israel National Center for Personalized Medicine at the newly refurbished facility.
Among the distinguished guests were Nancy and Stephen Grand, Lester Crown, founder of the Crown Institute for Genomics; Ilana and Pascal Mantoux, founders of the Ilana and Pascal Mantoux Institute for Bioinformatics; Martin Paisner, CBE, on behalf of the Maurice and Vivienne Wohl Charitable Foundation, founder of the Maurice and Vivienne Wohl Institute for Drug Discovery; and the Wolfson family, which provided the funds required for repurposing the building. The David and Fela Shapell Family Institute for Preclinical Studies, also part of the Nancy and Stephen Grand Israel National Center for Personalized Medicine, was dedicated in October.
Spotlight on scientific excellence
Dr. Maya Schuldiner of the Department of Moleular Genetics was one of six distinguished scientists who presented their research to the International Board in November. Each of the six received prestigious international recognition this year. Dr. Schuldiner, along with Dr. Jacob Hanna of the Department of Molecular Genetics (see story p. 22) who also presented, was recognized by Cell as one of the ,“40 Under 40” most likely to make a significant scientific advancement.
Prof. David Milstein of the Department of Organic Chemistry, a 2013 winner of the Israel Prize, Prof. David Wallach of the Department of Biological Chemistry, a 2014 Israel Prize winner, and Prof. Zelig Eshhar of the Department of Immunology, who won the 2014 Massry Prize and the 2015 Israel Prize, also described their research.
Celebrating the Wolfson Family
A personal gift by Sir Isaac Wolfson in 1947 to establish the Isaac Wolfson Building on campus launched a long-lasting friendship between the Wolfson family and the Institute, manifested in numerous buildings, centers, and research initiatives. Most recently, the family has given a major gift to support the construction of the facility housing the Nancy and Stephen Grand Israel National Center for Personalized Medicine. The partnership was celebrated on November 11 in Tel Aviv at a festive dinner.
Isaac Herzog, a member of Knesset for the Israeli Zionist Union Party and Chairman of the Opposition, spoke about his family’s deep personal connection with the Wolfsons, beginning with his grandmother and Sir Isaac sharing the same kindergarten in Glasgow in the early 1900s, to his father (Chaim Herzog, 6th President of Israel) working for Sir Isaac after his discharge from the IDF, and the warm relations between his uncle, Abba Eban, the Institute’s President in the 1960s, and the Wolfson family. Mr. Herzog praised the dedication of the Wolfson family to the Weizmann Institute, which he called “the true center of gravity of the success of the State of Israel”, and said he was pleased to witness a third and fourth generation of Wolfson philanthropy to Israel and the Institute.
Shapell family dedications
Weizmann Institute scientists and staff gathered on October 12 for the dedication of the David and Fela Shapell Family Institute for Preclinical Studies (under the auspices of the Nancy and Stephen Grand Israel National Center for Personalized Medicine) and the David and Fela Shapell Family Holocaust Memorial Plaza, in the presence of Mr. and Mrs. Shapell and their grandchildren.
David Shapell passed away last month and was buried in Israel. David and Fela Shapell, Holocaust survivors who lived in Beverly Hills, California, supported the Weizmann Institute for many years. They funded the David and Fela Shapell Family Center for Genetic Disorders Research and the research of Prof. Yoram Groner of the Department of Molecular Genetics.
The David Moross Fitness Center
A major gift by David Moross enabled the construction of the David Moross Fitness Center, which was dedicated at the International Board in the presence of members of the Moross family. The Fitness Center is a vibrant, modern facility serving the Institute’s entire family of scientists, students, and staff.
Siem Childcare Center dedication
The dedication of the Siem Childcare Center took place outside the childcare facility in the presence of Karen Siem, her family, and the Board guests, as well as representatives from WIZO, who collaboratively manage the daycare centers on the Weizmann Institute campus. “This type of daycare is the right mechanism for advancing women’s careers,” said Prof. Irit Sagi, Dean of the Feinberg Graduate School, and formerly the Chair of the Early Childhood Education Center Steering Committee at the Institute.
Karen Siem, a longtime supporter of women in science initiatives at the Institute, is the daughter of Mandy Moross, who stepped down as Chair of the International Board in November. Her gift was made in his final year as Chair, honoring her father’s nine years of service.
Larry Marks and Dr. Gladys Monroy-Marks, with Dr. Assaf Tal
Pennie and Gary Abramson fund the Abramson Family Center for Young Scientists
Dr. Maya Schuldiner