The Council for Higher Education is expanding its research excellence program this year to include 11 more research centers, the council announced on Wednesday.

The program, known as ICORE – the Israeli Centers for Research Excellence – began following a government decision in March 2010. Its purpose, according to the council, is to “reinforce Israel’s intellectual capacities and promote synergy among Israel’s leading research centers: universities, colleges, hospitals and research institutes.”

When the program started operating in October 2011, the first group of four centers focused on the fields of cognitive science, algorithms, solar energy and genetics of human diseases.

Of the 11 research groups, four will engage in research in the humanities, and seven will focus on the exact sciences, such as engineering, life sciences and medicine.

The centers, which will be located within universities, will be established this year, but the council explained that their operation dates would be determined later. The Hebrew University of Jerusalem will manage four of them.

The research units involve collaboration among professors from universities and private colleges across the country.

Among the groups are one studying Jewish culture in the modern era, headed by a Hebrew University professor; one on education and the new information society, headed by a lecturer at the University of Haifa; and one that will engage in mass trauma research.

Others will research the fields of quantum physics, astrophysics, genetics, biophysics and medical technology, as well as plant adaptation to the changing environment.

In total, 26 research groups working in 17 fields applied to join the program.“The high quality of all the proposals, particularly of the winners, is a testimony of honor for research and researchers in Israel,” the council wrote in a statement.

The text added that the new centers of excellence would “promote innovative and groundbreaking research in a variety of fields, consolidate collaborative research between institutions in the country and internationally and will help in the absorption of new excellent researchers,” as well as “pave the way for training future generations of outstanding researchers in the country.”

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