Weizmann Institute of Science Establishes Institute of Medicinal Chemistry

The Weizmann Institute of Science is set to create the Dr. Barry Sherman Institute of Medicinal Chemistry in Rehovot.

The Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot. (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
The Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot.
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
The Weizmann Institute of Science is set to create the Dr. Barry Sherman Institute of Medicinal Chemistry in Rehovot. This comes as a gift from the Sherman family, of whom Barry, is a well-known scientist, businessman and philanthropist. In 1974, he founded Apotex - a pharmaceutical manufacturer of generic drugs that aimed at boosting increased access to patients worldwide. In the past decade alone, Apotex provided over $50 million in medicine to disaster-stricken countries. The Sherman family has sponsored research projects at the Weizmann Institute for years, mainly in the fields of biomedicine and alternative energy and also funds postdoctoral grants for female scientists.
The institute is looking to fund research to develop new medicines, which will treat cancer, autoimmune, neurodegenerative and infectious diseases. One focus will be on discovering new antibiotic strains to treat those who experience antibiotic resistance to current drugs. Another study will look to use plant metabolites in medicine. These compounds are able to interact with targets in cells, such as proteins, nucleic acids (the main compound in DNA) or with other molecules that interact with neurotransmitter receptors and fight brain diseases.
Still, another focus will be on bioengineering plants to produce L-DOPA -  an amino acid that can be derived from plants and is used in pharmaceuticals that treat Parkinson's disease. Researchers will also search for effective and low-cost drugs to combat malaria.
Dr. Sarel Fleishman, a professor from the Department of Biomolecular Sciences at Weizmann will head the institute.
Prof. Daniel Zajfman, President of the Weizmann Institute said, "This visionary gift comes at an important moment, when new, sophisticated evaluation and screening tools make it possible to take promising molecules to the next level for the benefit of human health, and the Sherman Foundation is turning this possibility into a reality. We are grateful for this partnership with the Sherman family."