Home / Sections / People behind the science / A Transformational Gift

A transformational gift

Mort Zuckerman is cultivating U.S. and Israeli scientific leadership

People behind the science

Date: February 1, 2016
Weizmann Magazine Vol. 9

American business leader and philanthropist Mortimer B. Zuckerman announced on Jan. 25 the launch of the Zuckerman STEM Leadership Program, a $100 million initiative to promote deeper scientific ties between North America and Israel.

The gift, which will be split evenly between four Israeli institutions of higher learning including the Weizmann Institute of Science, will fund scientists from the U.S., Canada, and other Western countries during their postdoctoral fellowship period in Israel; and the recruitment of top Israeli scholars from abroad to join the faculties of the Israeli institutions, enabling the institutions to effectively compete with top North American institutions for the best candidates.

The other participating institutions are the Technion - Israel Institute of Technology, Tel Aviv University, and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Mr. Zuckerman is the chairman and editor-in-chief of U.S. News & World Report and is the chairman and publisher of the New York Daily News. He is the co-founder and chairman of Boston Properties, Inc. A native of Montreal, Mr. Zuckerman is a frequent commentator on world affairs and is a former chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.

The launch event was held at the Harvard Club in Manhattan in the presence of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, three Nobel laureates including the Institute’s Prof. Ada Yonath, and the presidents of the Israeli institutions: Prof. Daniel Zajfman of the Weizmann Institute, Prof. Peretz Lavie of the Technion, Prof. Joseph Klafter of Tel Aviv University, and Prof. Menachem Ben-Sasson of the Hebrew University.

“At a time when collaboration is essential to advance scientific research, this program gives the next generations of leading American and Israeli academics the ability to work together on cutting-edge research in ways that stand to benefit their fields for years to come,” said Mr. Zuckerman. “The result will help transform not just the work of the scholars involved, but the way the United States and Israel approach collaboration and cooperation across the sciences.”

Prof. Zajfman said, “The Zuckerman Leadership Program is truly visionary in that it will create important links between North American and Israeli science by investing in new scientists at key moments in their careers as they establish their global network and begin their research. In a terrific synergy, Israeli science and these visiting scientists will nourish one another, and in the process strengthen Israel’s role as a world hub of science and technology.”

He continued, “We expect that the relationships built within this framework will generate life-long collaborations that will advance many areas of science. The Weizmann Institute of Science, a world leader in basic research, is looking forward to this new partnership and we are deeply grateful for the friendship and support of Mr. Mort Zuckerman. We look forward to witnessing the success of this program in the years to come, and the great science that will spring forth from it.”

Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu said in a video message: “Mort’s friendship is demonstrated yet again through this important initiative. Together with the Technion, the Weizmann Institute, the Hebrew University and Tel Aviv University, this project will help bring back home some of Israel’s most brilliant sons and daughters, allow them to advance their own careers here, and in so doing contribute to Israel’s growing scientific excellence. It will also enable some of America’s brightest young scientists to conduct their research in Israel.”

In an interview with Weizmann Magazine, Mr. Zuckerman said, “I have deep affection for Israel. I decided to establish this program because I believe it to be an excellent way to bring together two powerhouses in science and identify the next generation of leaders in science… This will be equally beneficial to American science as it will be to Israeli science, and, given the complexity and sophistication of scientific research today, it is critical that the best scientists collaborate.” Mr. Zuckerman went on to say that the program will have world-class scientists review and select the postdoc and faculty candidates, which will help ensure that the best-ofthe- best be selected.

A visit to Israel with his nephews Eric Gertler and James Gertler in October “only reinforced my understanding of the strength of Israeli science,” he said. Additional information on the program is available on the program’s website at http://zuckerman-scholars.org.

International postdocs on the Weizmann Institute campus

International postdocs on the Weizmann Institute campus