President Shimon Peres presented scholarship grants to the total value of NIS
2m. to 10 outstanding doctoral students, engaged in various fields of brain
research, on Monday.
Aged between 26 and 32, the students are studying or
have studied at Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Tel Aviv University, Bar
Ilan University, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Neurology Department
at the Weizmann Institute.
Through their diverse areas of research they
are hoping to develop new techniques for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease,
schizophrenia, depression, autism and attention deficit disorders; enabling
people paralyzed through injury or stroke to regain the use of their limbs,
relieve severe visual impairments, discover new ways in which to alleviate pain
and learn how daily medication impacts the brain.
The young researchers
are Shiri Ron, Ori Iosmi, Mor Bentov, Hiba Zeidan, Avital Hachmi, Tehar Yarden,
Boaz Mohar, Rita Peretz, Niv Regev and Daniel Reznik.
them with their grants, Peres told them how glad he was that they had chosen
courses of study designed to make the world a better place.
audience, compiled of members of Israel’s scientific community and relatives of
the awardees, he said: “You have just seen the future.”
Peres, who has
been encouraging Israel’s technological development since Ben Gurion appointed
him director general of the Defense Ministry, strongly believes that Israel’s
best and most far reaching asset is its brain power.
Peres is convinced
that within the next decade many of the brain’s secrets will be
The one that interests him most is what it is that makes people
decide to act one way or another.
In pressing for Israel to make brain
research a priority, Peres established a voluntary think tank of some of the
nation’s best scientific brains.
The team is headed by Professor Yadin
Dudai, professor of neurobiology at the Weizmann Institute, who is an
internationally acclaimed expert on memory.
Gesturing towards the 10
young researchers, who were the best of scores of applicants judged by a panel
of leading Israeli brain scientists, Dudai said “this the first time I’m on
stage with 10 people who are all cleverer than I am.”
He gave four
reasons for brain research’s leap to prominence in the 21st century.
first is curiosity, “it’s the most mysterious of all sciences, the one of which
we know the least,” he said.
The second is the belief that it can lead to
the cure or prevention of many physical ailments.
The third reason is
technology. The most sophisticated computers can’t do some of the things that a
two weeks old baby can do, said Dudai, and this poses a challenge, because the
human brain, which is still superior, can continue to produce increasingly
The fourth reason is economics. A state and a
nation that is not in the forefront of brain technology today will lag behind in
its economy, because it cannot compete, said Dudai.