Ministry announces first sites for ‘excellence in research’

Program is part of plan to strengthen Israel's position as global leader in academic research, stem the brain drain of Israeli academics.

Saar (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
The sites for the first four research centers for the Israeli Centers for Research Excellence (I-CORE) program were announced by the Education Ministry on Tuesday, part of a multi-year plan to strengthen Israel’s position as a global leader in academic research and stem the brain drain of Israeli academics.
Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar (Likud) said Tuesday that the selection of the four centers is “a landmark in the process of establishing Israel as a world center in advanced research.”
Sa’ar vowed that in the coming year, the ministry will launch a further 10 research excellence centers, including ones focusing on liberal arts and social sciences.
Prof. Manuel Trachtenberg, chairman of the Budget and Planning Committee for the Council of Higher Education, said Tuesday that the research centers “are expected to bring back to Israel some 300 leading Israeli researchers from universities across the world.”
He added that the centers “are a central factor in the multi-year plan for higher education, strengthening scientific research in Israel and establishing the country as one of the world’s leaders [in scientific research].”
One of the centers will deal with “The molecular basis of human diseases” and will be led by Hebrew University Prof. Haim Cedar, as well as researchers from Tel Aviv University, Bar-Ilan University, Sheba Medical Center and the Hadassah Medical Center.
The Education Ministry said Tuesday that the center will host at least four Israeli researchers currently working at research facilities at Harvard University and elsewhere in Boston, Massachusetts.
A research center dealing with “cognitive processes” will be led by Weizmann Institute Prof. Yadin Dudai, in collaboration with researchers from Bar-Ilan University, Tel Aviv University, Jezreel Valley Academic College, and the Sourasky Medical Center.
A computer science center will be headed by Prof. Yishay Mansour from Tel Aviv University, who will work alongside researchers from the Weizmann Institute and the Hebrew University.
The location and make-up of the fourth research excellence center, which will deal with alternative energy, will be announced shortly, the Education Ministry said Tuesday.
The plan to open the research centers was approved by the government in March 2010 and the Education Ministry has repeatedly stated that one of the goals of the centers is to encourage Israeli academics who have left the country to return to be leaders in their fields in Israel.
The program calls for the establishment of an additional 30 research centers over the next five years, at an investment of some NIS 1.35 billion.