Our Achievements

The Weizmann Institute of Science has an institutional philosophy of creative collaboration and intellectual curiosity, free from commercial restraints. Our scientists work with the brightest minds from across the globe—from scientific institutes and medical centers to government agencies and academic institutions—as they search for answers to the biggest questions facing humankind. So far they have developed new ways of fighting disease and hunger, protecting the environment, and harnessing alternative energy solutions.

In honor of these achievements, the American Committee for the Weizmann Institute of Science has created Tomorrow Lab to celebrate the pursuit of science for the benefit of humanity.

Fighting Cancer

  • Scientists at the Weizmann Institute work to clarify the molecular mechanisms involved in metastasis, which is still one of the least understood aspects of cancer, and devise strategies against it.

  • Weizmann scientists invented the synergistic effect behind Erbitux®, an antibody-based therapy that presents synergism with conventional chemotherapy. Used to treat colorectal and head and neck cancer, Erbitux® was approved by the FDA in 2001.

  • Allicin, a natural chemical in garlic, has been used by Weizmann researchers to destroy malignant tumors while leaving healthy tissue intact. This technique could also prove invaluable for preventing metastasis following surgery.

  • Weizmann scientists were among the first to study and clone the p53 gene, defective copies of which are found in more than half of all human cancers. They determined that this gene can suppress cell proliferation and instigate necessary cell death. New treatments based on these findings are being developed.

  • Weizmann scientist Professor Yair Reisner tackled the problem of bone marrow transplantation between incompatible donors by using a hormone to mobilize the bone marrow cells of leukemia patients and “bubble” children. In 1993, this method was used for the first time to treat a leukemia patient in Italy.

  • A Weizmann scientist identified an enzyme that helps protect against lung cancer. Genetic differences may explain why some people get cancer while others, including smokers, don’t. A simple blood test could help gauge personal risk.

  • Weizmann Institute scientists are conducting pioneering research on the viability of photodynamic therapy (PDT) to treat malignant tumors. This “green” therapy can treat prostate cancer by combining non-toxic drug treatment with light, destroying the tumor’s blood supply. Clinical testing is underway.

  • Weizmann research established the foundation for the development of Gleevec®, which has been approved by the FDA to treat chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML).

  • Weizmann scientists succeeded in reversing the metastatic properties of colon cancer; their research may be used as the foundation for drugs that can specifically target colon cancer-causing genes.

  • Weizmann scientist Prof. Hadassa Degani developed a non-invasive, MRI-based method called three time point (3TP) that is FDA-approved for diagnosing breast and prostate cancer.

Advancing Technology

  • Weizmann scientists have created a formula to predict how cracks will advance in specific materials. Such a formula has been sought for years to help scientists and engineers predict how materials such as the metal in airplane wings or the concrete in dams will hold up under stress.

  • In 2001, Weizmann's Prof. Ehud Shapiro created the world's smallest computer. Built from DNA, about a trillion can fit in a drop of water. In 2004, it successfully identified signs of cancer and even released an appropriate drug.

  • A Weizmann computer scientist created a computer language that facilitates the development of sophisticated, complex systems such as those used in aircraft, space shuttles, and nuclear power stations.

  • Beginning in the 1970s, a Weizmann mathematician and two international colleagues developed several methods of encrypting and decrypting information. In addition to laying the foundation of Internet security, this technology led to “smart cards” and is used in global financial and governmental communications.

  • Weizmann scientists developed a method of laser-cutting diamonds that reduces the loss of material and cuts stones into virtually any shape.

  • Sunglasses and vehicle windshields that darken when bright light falls on them are familiar consumer goods that were developed following the discovery of photochromism in a Weizmann lab.

  • Lasers that control chemical reactions were developed by Weizmann scientists with colleagues overseas. This finding may lead to a new way of isolating molecules for novel drug development.

  • For the past five consecutive years, the Institute’s technology transfer arm, Yeda Research and Development Company, Ltd., has been ranked among the top five university license income earners in the world and has the largest portfolio of patents in Israel.

  • In 1954, the Weizmann Institute designed and built WEIZAC – the first computer in Israel and one of the first in the world.

  • Weizmann’s Prof. Dan Tawfik developed a super-fast method for identifying novel genes and proteins for biological and medical research. His system employs an emulsion of tiny water droplets suspended within oil drops, enabling review of samples that is exponentially faster than existing methods.

  • Scientists at the Weizmann Institute are using brain research to create advanced robotic visual systems.

  • The A.M. Turing Award, widely regarded as the “Nobel Prize of computer science,” was awarded to Weizmann Institute Prof. Adi Shamir in 2003 in recognition of his contributions to the field of cryptography.

  • In 2008, a group of Weizmann physicists demonstrated, for the first time, the existence of “quasiparticles” that have one-quarter the charge of an electron. This finding could be a first step towards creating exotic types of quantum computers that might be powerful, yet highly stable.

  • The Weizmann Institute is home to Israel’s first and only submicron research facility for sophisticated electronic component development.

Enriching Education

  • A Davidson Institute of Science Education program at the Weizmann Institute cultivates interest in science through extracurricular programs for school-age children.

  • The Weizmann Institute’s award-winning, family-friendly Clore Garden of Science, which welcomes around 100,000 guests annually, has hands-on exhibits that make science accessible to everyone.

  • In the early 1970's, Weizmann launched Perach, a national project that pairs university students who mentor children from underprivileged backgrounds. Today, around 15 percent of all students in Israel's institutes of higher education and tens of thousands of children take part in Perach each year.

  • The Institute's National Postdoctoral Award Program for Advancing Women in Science enables female scientists who pursue postdoctoral education abroad to return to Israel to establish their science careers.

  • The Institute’s Feinberg Graduate School, established in 1958, grants around 1,000 MSc and PhD degrees each year to outstanding young scientists from dozens of countries. Its postdoctoral program brings talented researchers to campus to continue their studies in the labs of the Institute’s renowned scientists.

  • A unique program at Weizmann’s Davidson Institute of Science Education helps immigrant youth from Ethiopia develop their science skills and increase their knowledge, enabling them to pursue higher education in science and technology.

  • The Weizmann Institute sends a Science Mobile - a van with instructors and extracurricular science enrichment programs - to Israel’s outlying communities, including those that are impacted by war.

  • Weizmann’s Davidson Institute of Science Education, inaugurated in 2001, provides modern classrooms and laboratories for teacher development programs and science programs for at-risk youth, gifted students, and other school-age children.

Protecting Our Planet

  • Weizmann Institute Profs. Avihai Danon and Uri Pick are genetically engineering algae to produce environmentally friendly, sustainable biofuel.

  • Weizmann scientists developed new protein-enriched wheat varieties that provide nearly 40 percent higher yield, allowing for greater production. These varieties also produce better crops that are more resistant to diseases and natural damage.

  • Weizmann scientists were the first to produce hybrid cucumber seeds without hand pollination. This method is used today throughout the world.

  • Weizmann scientists discovered a gene in wild tomato plants that provides resistance against disease. The presence of this gene may greatly decrease the need for spraying crops with pesticides or treating soil, which can cause environmental damage.

  • A Weizmann scientist has developed a unique solution to the problem of waste paper. He created a designer cellulosome that breaks down the long sugar chains in paper's cellulose into soluble sugar syrup.

  • A tiny sensor that uses organic molecules to detect problems – from asthma to hidden explosives to harmful substances in the environment – was developed at the Weizmann Institute.

  • Weizmann Institute researchers are investigating new types of sensors for the real-time measurement of toxic metal levels in rivers and other fast-moving bodies of water.

  • Ninety-seven percent of the world’s water is too salty for drinking or irrigation. Weizmann researchers are developing efficient consumption and management methods, including desalination, to face this challenge.

  • Weizmann research projects on climate change, including global warming, are aimed at preventing ecological disasters. For example, Institute scientists are developing a formula to improve rain predictions with great accuracy – information that will be helpful to countries in arid regions.

  • Farmers in Africa fight against witchweed (Striga Hermonthica), a parasitic weed that drains the nutrition and water from crops. A new method for preventing witchweed, developed by Weizmann Institute researchers, disrupts the growth of the parasite before it reaches damaging sizes.

  • To improve fuel economy and lessen pollution, Weizmann scientists developed nanomaterials that enhance the performance of moving parts and can be used as lubricants for engines.

  • Weizmann researchers study processes that allow plant cells to cope with stress. This work could yield both environmental and agricultural rewards, possibly helping farmers develop emergency-ready crops. It may also lead to more protein-rich crops, which could alleviate malnutrition in developing countries.

  • The Weizmann Institute of Science is home to one of the world’s most advanced solar research facilities, enabling scientists to develop alternative, creative ways to use the sun’s energy.

  • Weizmann scientists developed an innovative technology that offers a green method for creating hydrogen fuel. It uses solar power to produce zinc powder, which can be easily stored and reacts when mixed with water to release hydrogen. Zinc oxide, the reaction's byproduct, can be recycled in the same solar plant.

Improving Health & Medicine

  • The Weizmann Institute's Prof. Nava Dekel discovered that performing a uterine biopsy just before a woman undergoes in vitro fertilization (IVF) doubles the chances of a successful pregnancy. Her method is now being used by women all over the world.

  • Prof. Yadin Dudai's groundbreaking neuroscience research includes identifying a way to erase memories; the discovery that a brain enzyme can improve memories, even older ones; and the finding that social pressure can lead to falsified memories.

  • Prof. Noam Sobel and his team of neurobiologists at the Weizmann Institute invented a device that enables quadriplegic persons to drive a wheelchair and locked-in patients to write using a computer–all by sniffing. The revolutionary, easy-to-use device is being studied for other uses as well.

  • Weizmann scientists have identified a single gene linking stress to obesity and diabetes, and have shown that the gene's action in the brain has profound effects on the metabolism of the whole body.

  • Prof. Michal Schwartz and her team at the Weizmann Institute developed a treatment to regenerate damaged nerves in the spinal cord. This innovative approach involves boosting the body's natural immune mechanisms to improve the outcome of trauma.

  • Weizmann immunologist Prof. Irun Cohen has developed a vaccine that stops the progression of type 1, or juvenile, diabetes by blocking the destruction of insulin-secreting pancreatic cells. The vaccine is in clinical trials.

  • Stem cell research by Weizmann’s Prof. Yair Reisner yielded the creation of functioning human kidneys in mice, offering hope for patients suffering from organ failure. The ability to “grow” new organs would save untold numbers of lives.

  • Weizmann scientists discovered that stem cells in bone marrow can transform into liver cells and help repair a damaged liver–the second most-sought organ for transplantation in the U.S.

  • Weizmann’s Profs. Joel Sussman and Israel Silman discovered the molecular spatial structure of acetylcholinesterase (AChE), a brain enzyme thought to play a crucial role in Alzheimer’s disease. Their research is helping pave the way for the design of novel drugs for this devastating condition.

  • In 1956, Weizmann Institute Prof. Leo Sachs and his colleagues published a scientific paper that led to the clinical application of amniocentesis, now routinely used all over the world.

  • Weizmann scientists have found that a membrane in the inner ear is rigid at one end and flexible at the other—a gradation that may allow the ear to distinguish between frequencies. This could provide insight into correcting some forms of hearing impairment and may enable the design of better hearing aids.

  • In the 1950's, Weizmann Institute laboratories yielded heavy-oxygen water for the study of basic processes such as respiration, brain chemistry, and photosynthesis. Today, this technology is used in advanced medical imaging scans such as positron emission tomography (PET).

  • A Weizmann scientist developed a blood test that may be used to screen for schizophrenia. The mental disorder, which affects more than two million Americans, is currently diagnosed only through behavioral methods.

  • A beta-carotene-based health food product with possible anti-cancer properties is derived from Dunaliella algae through a process developed at the Weizmann Institute.

  • The Weizmann Institute’s Prof. Ada Yonath won the 2009 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for crystallizing and deciphering the structure of the ribosome, the cell’s protein factory. Her achievement helps clarify the exact mode of action of antibiotic drugs and is aiding in the fight against antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

  • A Weizmann scientist revealed that the positioning of nucleosomes–spheres of DNA compressed around proteins and strung like beads along the chromosomes–is encoded in the genes themselves. This discovery, which received global attention, may help in designing gene therapies.

  • Multiple sclerosis (MS) affects 2.5 million people worldwide. Copaxone® and Rebif®, two FDA-approved drugs that are now frontline treatments for MS, were developed based on Weizmann research.

  • Prof. Dan Tawfik and his team of Weizmann scientists successfully designed artificial enzymes that undergo “evolution” in a test tube, with exponentially faster reaction rates. This achievement opens the door to the development of numerous potential applications in medicine and industry.

  • When the brain is injured, a neurotransmitter called glutamate floods the brain, damaging it. Weizmann’s Prof. Vivian Teichberg has developed a method that causes the excess glutamate to exit the brain quickly and pass harmlessly into the blood.

Exploring the Physical World

  • Weizmann astrophysicists and an international team discovered a new type of supernova. Levels of calcium and titanium in the explosion indicate that the supernova was a nuclear reaction. This supernova could help explain mysteries such as the prevalence of calcium in the universe and in our bodies.

  • Weizmann's Prof. Steve Weiner and colleagues found fossilized DNA that may be better preserved and less prone to contamination with modern DNA. They showed that DNA fragments preserved in crystal aggregates within fossilized bone can be isolated and studied, giving us improved insight into our past.

  • Weizmann’s Dr. Ilan Koren found that over half of the mineral dust that air currents carry each year from Africa to the Amazon basin comes from a single small valley in the Sahara. This dust, measured using satellite images, provides the nutrients necessary for the rich biology of the rain forest.

  • Weizmann scientists took part in the research that proved the existence of gluons in 1957. Gluons are the particles responsible for the strongest force in nature—the force that holds the nucleus of the atom together.

  • Several Weizmann Institute scientists are part of the international consortium examining some of the biggest questions in the universe at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC). The LHC, which is underground near Geneva, Switzerland, is the largest, highest-energy particle accelerator ever built.

  • In a first for astrophysics, Weizmann scientist Dr. Avishay Gal-Yam, collaborating with colleagues at San Diego State University, observed as a star estimated at a mass of 200 suns exploded. The scientists were ultimately able to confirm that the massive star turned into a black hole.