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Jewish Journal

Support your local scientist

by  Tom Tugend

September 8, 2010 | 11:14 am

Ever wish that you could round up some top scientists and put them to work researching one of your particular interests in medicine, energy or the cosmos?
Well, the United States-Israel Binational Science Foundation (BSF) has heard you and has come up with a mechanism to put the general idea into practice.
The BSF is one of those government initiatives that rarely breaks into the news, but which has done a great deal to stimulate scientific research and, incidentally, strengthen relations between Israel and the United States.
Since its beginning in 1972, BSF has allotted $480 million, contributed equally by the governments of the two nations, to support some 4,000 research projects at 190 universities.
Each project teams up Israeli with American scientists, who over the years have collaborated on numerous important projects. Current studies include research in cancer diagnosis, stem cell therapy, search for life in the universe, and protection against chemical warfare and insecticide poisoning.
“A BSF grant is highly prestigious in the scientific community,” said Art Ellis, UC San Diego vice chancellor for research. “There are many examples of successful projects conducted by collaborating U.S. and Israeli scholars that were facilitated by BSF funding. This partnership is path-breaking.”
BSF gets its funds from the interest derived from a $100 million endowment, but the annual yield has dropped with the shaky economy.
To compensate, Gary Leo, BSF’s national director of development, has initiated a program to support a BSF project between a scientist from a local American university and an Israeli researcher at, for instance, the Technion, Tel Aviv University, Weizmann Institute of Science, or Hebrew University.
The program is called the Multiplier Research Grants Fund and the University of California, San Diego has been chosen as the initial American participant.
In practice that means that San Diego residents will be asked to supplement the BSF grant of a UC San Diego scientist, and his or her Israeli partner, in the area of the donor’s interest.
Leo said he hopes to expand the program nationwide and expects private support in the next two years to total between $3 to $5 million.
For more information on the new program, contact Gary Leo at (310) 264-1606, or e-mail gary@bsf.org.il.
To find out more the binational science foundation, visit www.bsf.org.il.

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