Dr. Ellen Knell

United States

Dr. Ellen Knell is a geneticist who specializes in cancer-risk assessment and genetic testing. She carried out her undergraduate studies in psychology and biological sciences at the University of California, Berkeley, and then went on to earn her MSc and PhD from UCLA. She worked at the New York State Psychiatric Institute, Children's Hospital of Los Angeles, City of Hope, and has been a consultant and in private practice most of her career. 

Dr. Knell is a Board member of the Cancer Support Community in her hometown of Pasadena, California, and is active in Professional Child Development Associates, a nonprofit that provides services for children with autism spectrum disorder. She is also a past President of Southwest Chamber Music, an ensemble that won two Grammy Awards during her tenure.

Dr. Knell and her husband Harvey Knell, also a PhD honoris causa recipient, founded a philanthropic foundation, through which they have made numerous contributions in a wide range of areas, including education, arts, culture, research, and Jewish causes. The couple are also longtime members of the Weizmann family, through their dedicated service on the Institute's International Board, through generous support and advocacy, and through their visionary philanthropy as members of the President's Circle.

In 2013, they established the Knell Family Professorial Chair, whose current incumbent is Prof. Yardena Samuels in the Department of Molecular Cell Biology. They also provided funding for the development of the Weizmann UK Building for Biocomplexity Research. Most recently, they established the Knell Family Center for Microbiology, directed by Prof. Rotem Sorek, which supports a multidisciplinary group of researchers on a journey to harness the power of "good" microbial diversity to develop new medicines, understand trends in global ecology, and more.

The Knells have three sons and six grandchildren. They reside at the Blacker House in Pasadena, built in 1907 by renowned architects Greene and Greene and listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places, which the Knells had completely restored while preserving the house's history and legacy.