President Biography

Prof. Alon Chen

Prof. Alon Chen is the 11th President of the Weizmann Institute of Science.

Prof. Chen was born in Israel. He studied biology, receiving his BSc, with distinction, from Ben-Gurion University in 1995, and a PhD from the Weizmann Institute of Science through the direct PhD program, with distinction. During his PhD studies, Prof. Chen also received an MBA from Ben-Gurion University. He was a postdoctoral fellow at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in California; it was there he began his research into the processes that occur in the brain and the body during stress and anxiety. He then joined the faculty of the Weizmann Institute of Science's Department of Neurobiology.

Prof. Chen's research into the neurobiology of stress focuses on the mechanisms by which the brain regulates the response to stressful challenges and how this response may be linked to a number of psychiatric disorders. The long-term goal of his research is to elucidate the pathways and mechanisms by which stressors are perceived, processed and converted into neuroendocrine and behavioral responses under healthy and pathological conditions.

His lab has made significant discoveries in the field, revealing fundamental aspects of the stress response in both animals and humans, including actions that link specific stress-related genes, epigenetic mechanisms and brain circuits to anxiety disorders, depression, eating disorders and metabolic syndrome.

Over the years in his various scientific and administrative leadership roles, Prof. Chen has worked extensively with scientific boards, executive boards, elected officials, alumni, donors and the community at large to advance the mission of the institutions in which he is involved.

Prof. Chen was Head of the Department of Neurobiology, and he is also Managing Director and Scientific Member of the Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry, Munich, Germany, and serves as the Head of the Max Planck Society – Weizmann Institute of Science Laboratory for Experimental Neuropsychiatry and Behavioral Neurogenetics. He is an adjunct professor at the Medical School of the Ludwig Maximilian University, Munich. He is the recipient of both the Rothschild Foundation and Fulbright fellowships. Upon his joining the Weizmann Institute, he received the Yigal Alon Fellowship.

Prof. Alon Chen is the incumbent of the Vera and John Schwartz Professorial Chair in Neurobiology.

Prof. Chen is married and father to two children. He has a keen interest in science education.