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A very personal commitment

Ilana and Pascal Mantoux

People behind the science

Date: March 29, 2015
Weizmann Magazine Vol. 7

Four years after Ilana and Pascal Mantoux first became involved with the Weizmann Institute, they made a major gift to support the lab of Dr. Jacob Hanna, in 2011. They were drawn to his work on stem cells and its widespread implications in diseases and malfunctions of organs.

Since the establishment of the Ilana and Pascal Mantoux Wing for Stem Cell Research dedicated to the memory of their parents, the couple has developed a personal connection with Dr. Hanna. “We remain in close contact with Jacob at all times, whether at home in Israel or in France or even while traveling. Jacob keeps us in the loop about his research and his team’s progress and we feel very fortunate to be associated with him.” The feeling is mutual. Adds Ilana, “We once asked Jacob about whether he was happy to be part of the Institute to which he answered enthusiastically: ‘Yes!’ He stressed how he benefited from the Institute’s state-of-the-art facilities, dedicated human resources, interactions with other scientists, and support, which afford him the freedom to explore his research.” “The Mantouxs are some of the most special people I have ever met,” says Dr. Hanna. “They have become like family and they know my own family and my students personally. Furthermore, as we work in a highly competitive field and take on extremely challenging projects, it is incredibly empowering to know that the Mantouxs are rooting for us. Every time we have a breakthrough in our research, the first thing I think about is sharing it with Ilana and Pascal and how grateful I am to be in a position of being worthy of their trust and investment.”

The Weizmann Institute was the couple’s first venture into philanthropy in 2008, and their giving has continued at a steady pace over the years. They have supported a variety of projects in other areas of research, including scientific collaboration between the Institute and the Chaim Sheba Medical Center. That endeavor was recognized with the naming of Prof. Benjamin Geiger’s lab in the Department of Molecular Cell Biology as the Laboratory in Cancer Cell Biology in memory of Lt. Olivier Mantoux, Pascal’s father who was killed in action during World War II.

And more recently, in 2013, the Mantouxs made a major contribution that established one of the four pillars of the Nancy and Stephen Grand Israel National Center for Personalized Medicine: the Ilana and Pascal Mantoux Institute for Bioinformatics.

Ilana’s keen interest in personalized medicine, stem cells, and cancer research has driven her enthusiasm in these areas of research at the Weizmann Institute, areas that hold great promise in improving health and well-being.

The Weizmann Institute has “opened a door,” says Pascal, “through which we have happily and proudly stepped in.” Ilana says she has been particularly touched by the “human side” of the Institute and immediately felt like she became part of a family. “The warmth, openness and friendliness of everyone has touched us, giving us a true sense of purpose in our actions and a strong sense of belonging.”

Pascal’s area of interest is primarily in the operational side of the Institute. He became a member of the International Board in 2009 and has since been appointed to the Executive Board, and serves on several management committees—an experience that allows him to better appreciate the high standards and intricacies of the Institute, he says.

They have five children and 10 grandchildren. The couple shares their time between Israel and Pascal’s native France as he continues to actively operate his real estate and land management company in France. Previously, he held various senior management positions with global industrial corporations. His educational background is in mechanical engineering and business administration in France, and he attended the Harvard Business School. Ilana is a graduate in sociology and political science from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and has worked in human resources in the cardiology department of the Sourasky Medical Center (Ichilov) for many years.

In 2008, the Mantouxs also established a cancer outpatient clinic and in 2012, a heart and chest intensive care unit at the Sourasky Medical Center in memory of Ilana’s parents, a project close to Ilana’s heart.

They are loyal participants in many of the Weizmann Institute events and have developed numerous personal relationships with faculty, scientists, and management over the years. Says Ilana, “We feel privileged to be able to support great scientific endeavors, and we are grateful for the opportunity to contribute toward creating a better future for generations to come, and we consider ourselves goodwill ambassadors of the Weizmann Institute.”


Dr. Jacob Hanna is funded by Abisch Frenkel Foundation for the Promotion of Life Sciences, The Benoziyo Endowment Fund for the Advancement of Science, The Sir Charles Clore Research Prize, Erica A. Drake and Robert Drake, European Research Council, Flight Attendant Medical Reseach Institute (FAMRI), Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust, Pascal and Ilana Mantoux, France/Israel, Alice & Jacob K. Rubin Charitable Remainder Unitrust, Fritz Thyssen Stiftung. Dr. Hanna is the recipient of the Helen and Martin Kimmel Award for Innovative Investigation.