How the Blavatnik Family Foundation has helped to stimulate scientific co-operation between the US and Israel


The Blavatnik Family Foundation’s generous support has helped to strengthen the relationship between scientists in the US and Israel, and open new horizons for outstanding scientists from both countries.

In April 2019, a joint program founded by the US National Academy of Sciences (NAS) and the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities (IASH) was formed, following a Memorandum of Understanding signed by the presidents of both organisations.

The program, which is comprised of two elements, is supported by a generous five-year grant from the Blavatnik Family Foundation. The first element is the annual Blavatnik US-Israel Scientific Forum involving 10-12 senior and early-career researchers. The Forum consists of a two-day bilateral symposia and workshops alternating between the US and Israel. The second element facilitates annual scientist exchanges between the two nations. Visiting scientists will often hold meetings and conduct seminars at local academic institutions, as well as deliver public lectures.

The Blavatnik Family Foundation’s support has helped to stimulate shared understanding between academic institutions, and has formalised cooperative relations between their scientific communities.

The first Blavatnik Forum, on Computer Science and Its Impact on Our Future, took place on September 16-18, 2019 in Jerusalem. The second Blavatnik Forum, on Strategies and Technologies to Combat Antibiotic Resistance, was to have taken place in Washington in October 2020 but was postponed to fall 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The program of exchange visits by a senior scientist from each country also had to be postponed because of the pandemic but will commence again in 2021.

Professor Nili Cohen, president of the IASH: “As the COVID-19 pandemic has shown us, international scientific cooperation is imperative to the welfare of the whole world. We had been running some joint activities with NAS for a number of years, but it was incredibly important for us to strengthen, deepen and formalise the relationship between the two academies – which the program, along with support from the Blavatnik Family Foundation, has allowed us to do.

The program holds untold potential for the institutionalisation and expansion of research cooperation among front-ranking scientists from both countries, and for opening new horizons to outstanding young scientists.”

Dr. Marcia McNutt, president of the NAS: “What makes the program so special is that it brings together some of the world’s experts in their field, who can come from completely different disciplinary backgrounds and academic or commercial settings.

“In a time of calls for greater nationalism and declining opportunities for international engagement, this program could not be more timely in stimulating broader sharing of advances on the critical issues essential for continued peace and prosperity.”