Culture & Community

A Conversation with Prof. Daniel Zajfman and Andrew Heyward

Weizmann Institute President Prof. Daniel Zajfman is interviewed by Andrew Heyward, former president of CBS News. Mr. Heyward asked Prof. Zajfman some atypical questions, such as about his childhood in Brussels, Belgium; how he became interested in science as a child; and the time he got arrested. Prof. Zajfman also explains the importance of basic science research, emphasizing the fact that it is based on “curiosity and freedom,” rather than geared toward a specific goal, such as developing a medicine. Breakthrough applications like medicines, such as Weizmann’s Copaxone® for multiple sclerosis, come out of the basic research.

Prof. Zajfman also talked about some recent advances, such as Prof. Noam Sobel’s invention of a device that allows locked-in patients to communicate via sniffing – a brilliant idea that came about due to Prof. Sobel’s stunningly simple realization: people who are locked in can still do one thing, and that is breathe.

This half-hour conversation took place as part of the New York Region of the American Committee for the Weizmann Institute of Science’s gala event, held March 31, 2011, at Chelsea Piers in Manhattan.