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Shaping the role of future physician-scientists

The Weizmann Institute establishes an MD-PhD program in a joint initiative with the Miriam and Aaron Gutwirth Fund

The Weizmann Institute of Science, in a joint initiative with the Miriam and Aaron Gutwirth Fund, is set to establish a medical school, through which it will launch a unique program to train the next generation of physician-scientists. The program, which will be open to graduates and postgraduates, will each year accept up to 40 students, who will earn an MD-PhD at the end of their studies. Researchers accepted into the program will take part in Weizmann’s scientific research activity and will undergo clinical training at medical centers across Israel. These will include the government-run hospitals Sheba Medical Center – which was the first to join the program and helped design and build it – and the Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center (Ichilov), as well as hospitals run by the Clalit Health Services. Registration for the program, which is awaiting final approval from the Council for Higher Education, is expected to open at the end of 2024; studies are expected to commence in October 2025.

Training new physician-scientists as part of this program will provide a significant boost to Israel’s public health sector. Israeli hospitals will benefit from a steady flow of highly qualified personnel, whose comprehensive training will include both science and medicine to ensure that patients have access to the most advanced and innovative treatments. The program will strive to redefine the framework of medical education and to advance biomedical research and its application in Israel. In practice, it will shape the role of physician-scientists in a new era of research-based medicine and will allow its graduates to move smoothly between clinical practice and biomedical research. Graduates of the program will benefit from a unique combination of extensive scientific expertise and excellent clinical skills, which will equip them with the tools they need to meet emerging global health challenges. In parallel, the program will enrich scientific research at the Weizmann Institute.

“The new program will help physicians of the future apply the most contemporary and innovative scientific knowledge in the field of biomedicine.”
— Prof. Alon Chen

The establishment of the new medical school and program of studies has been made possible by a NIS 400 million donation – one of the largest in Israel’s history – from the Gutwirth Fund, the philanthropic branch of the AG Trust, whose commercial activity is led by the Allied Group. Since its establishment more than half a century ago, the Gutwirth Fund has provided continuous support for dozens of scientific, health and cultural institutions and projects in Israel and has contributed greatly to enriching and advancing academic education in the country. In addition to years of generous financial donations, the trustees have recognized that, in light of the huge challenges facing the State of Israel, they needed to increase their contribution to the community by initiating a significant and committed national project that would have a tangible and long-term impact on the future development of Israeli society. The trustees examined several proposals with the potential to contribute massively to Israel and decided that the establishment of a medical school, in cooperation with the Weizmann Institute of Science, would now be of most benefit to future generations.

Weizmann Institute President Prof. Alon Chen: “For many generations, the Weizmann Institute has been training excellent scientists who are at the forefront of academic and applied research in Israel and around the world. Since the institute’s establishment, its research has been conducted with a sense of national mission and for the future of humanity. Training Israeli physician-scientists fully embodies the institute’s purpose. The program will help physicians of the future apply the most contemporary and innovative scientific knowledge in the field of biomedicine, thanks to the Israeli research that is in the vanguard of international science and medicine, and thus will enable these physicians to impact the lives of countless people both here and abroad.”

Prof. Itzhak Swary, on behalf of the Gutwirth Trust: “We are thrilled to announce the establishment of a new medical school for physician-scientists, which will attract the brightest minds in Israel and will improve the future of Israeli citizens. This new program, under the auspices of the Weizmann Institute of Science, will ensure the highest levels of study and research in Israel and abroad while also forging a direct connection between science and pure research, and the world of medicine. This vision instills in all of us the confidence that the new initiative will take root, branch out into new fields and lead to the emergence of a new generation in Israeli medicine.”

Two possible career paths

The initiative to set up the program came from recognition of the need to forge a direct connection between science – including basic research – and the world of medicine. The Weizmann Institute of Science is committed to excellent, groundbreaking and curiosity-driven research. Weizmann’s unique culture of research and science promotes uncompromising excellence and affords scientists complete freedom of research, as well as full access to the most advanced and innovative technological infrastructure available. Combining clinical training with the Weizmann Institute’s unique research experience will create the optimal environment for training future generations of leaders of the biomedical community.

The program will allow its graduates to choose one of two possible career paths, or to combine them: working in hands-on medicine or focusing on basic research, having developed a deeper understanding of the clinical needs and a greater familiarity with ways of using scientific discoveries and contemporary knowledge to advance groundbreaking projects. The program will provide training in various areas of medicine and basic research in natural and exact sciences, with an emphasis on data science and artificial intelligence.

About the Weizmann Institute of Science

The Weizmann Institute of Science is one of the world’s leading multidisciplinary basic research institutes in the field of natural and exact sciences. Its research, which adheres to the tradition of science for humanity, has produced countless discoveries. Weizmann has around 280 experimental and theoretical research groups, working across the institute’s five faculties: Biology, Biochemistry, Chemistry, Mathematics and Computer Science, and Physics. Insights from the Weizmann Institute’s studies contribute to a deeper understanding of the human body and of the universe, and lead to new developments in medicine, technology and the environment. The Institute also trains the future scientific leadership of the State of Israel and promotes science education in schools and in the community.

About the AG Trust and the Miriam and Aaron Gutwirth Fund

The Miriam and Aaron Gutwirth Fund was established in 1972 and operates as part of the AG Trust, the owner of the Allied Group, one of the largest holding companies in Israel. Aaron Gutwirth, a Jewish businessman from Belgium who survived the Holocaust, was proficient in a wide range of fields and, through his philanthropic endeavors, helped build the State of Israel and the Zionist vision. His right-hand man was the late Haim Rubin, who also served as the first chair of the AG Trust and was one of the founders of Kibbutz Sdot Yam. Since 2005, the AG Trust and the Allied Group have been managed by Prof. Itzhak Swary.

Within the framework of the trust, profits from business activity are reinvested in one of two channels: continued development of Allied businesses while contributing to the economy and creating new jobs, or expanding philanthropic activity through the Gutwirth Fund. Over the many years of its existence, the Gutwirth Fund has handed out more than 15,000 scholarships to students, and it provides continuous support to numerous hospitals, academic institutions, welfare initiatives and cultural activities. The trustees recently decided to significantly increase the trust’s contribution to the community by developing important national initiatives that will have a positive impact on Israeli society for many generations to come.

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