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Coronavirus testing at Weizmann

Grand Center transforms to respond to urgent clinical needs, advance science



Date: April 13, 2020
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In an effort to ramp up large-scale and rapid testing for COVID-19, the Weizmann Institute, in concert with Israel’s Ministry of Health, has launched testing for the disease at the Nancy and Stephen Grand Israel National Center for Personalized Medicine on the Weizmann Institute campus. The Grand Center houses advanced robotics and other advanced technologies.

According to Grand Center Director Prof. Robert Fluhr, the COVID-19 testing initiative illustrates the spirit of communal responsibility and commitment to a shared cause at the Weizmann Institute since the outbreak of the pandemic. “Over 70 volunteers—including staff scientists, lab personnel, and students—stepped up immediately, contributing their skills and experience, and also undergoing specialized training needed to get the center up and running. Despite the obvious health dangers associated with this type of work, they come to work eagerly on weekdays, on Shabbat, and on holidays. It is truly inspiring, and truly important.”

“As a national resource, the Grand Center empowers Israeli researchers, helping them generate comprehensive genomic data, which can be integrated into next-generation drug design and personalized therapeutics,” says Prof. Haim Cedar, a biochemist affiliated with the Hebrew University of Jerusalem who serves as Chairman of the Grand Center’s scientific steering committee. “There is no doubt in my mind that this integrated approach is essential for reaching new discoveries that clinicians can bring to the fight against the coronavirus.”

The G-INCPM is a national resource where biomedical researchers collaborate with experts in a spectrum of areas critical for creating new drugs and novel therapeutic approaches to treat and cure a range of diseases and disorders. Providing technological support for scientific initiatives launched by Weizmann Institute investigators, Grand Center experts also collaborate with academic researchers at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Bar-Ilan University, Tel-Aviv University, the Technion, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, the University of Haifa, and other institutions. Additional clinical projects pair Grand Center scientists with Israeli medical professionals at Sheba, Ichilov, Hadassah, Rabin and Barzilai Medical Centers.

The activities of the Grand Center, a multi-disciplinary facility, are guided by constant cross-talk between six “pillars” of scientific investigation: the Crown Genomics Institute, the de Botton Protein Profiling Institute, the Ilana and Pascal Mantoux Bioinformatics Institute, the Maurice and Vivienne Wohl Drug Discovery Institute, the David and Fela Shapell Family Institute for Preclinical Studies, and the Institute for Medicinal Chemistry. Together, these pillars are the foundation of an integrated enterprise that harmonizes the essential tasks needed to speed the translation of scientific discovery from the lab into the clinical arena.


The founding supporters of the Grand Center include Nancy and Stephen Grand, Miel de Botton, Lester Crown, Ilana and Pascal Mantoux, the Maurice and Vivienne Wohl Charitable Foundation, the Shapell INCPM Fund for Preclinical Studies, and the Wolfson Family Charitable Trust.