"The Pasteur-Weizmann Council is the mere example of a dialogue at the highest level between scientists for the love of science and for the good of mankind, beyond frontiers." Simone Veil
Located in the heart of an orange grove, some twenty kilometers from Tel-Aviv and fifty from Jerusalem, the Weizmann Institute is comparable to Institut Pasteur in size, number of researchers, and budget. Its financial structure is also similar to that of Institut Pasteur. As an independent institute, it benefits from Government funds, from an extensive donor network, from revenues of its own assets and from industrial royalties. Also, just like Institut Pasteur, it is involved in top-level education and training. Unlike Institut Pasteur, however, its activities also include physics, mathematics and environment science, although nearly two-thirds of its laboratories are dedicated to biology, with a significant "strike force" in the areas of cancer, cellular immunology and neuroscience.
The Weizmann Institute has acquired an international reputation, placing it among the most prestigious research centers in the world.
Its researchers work closely with a number of laboratories outside of Israel, in particular in the United States and Germany. With "Pasteur-Weizmann", these external collaborations now also extend to Institut Pasteur.
Pasteur-Weizmann Scientific Initiatives
1- Pasteur-Weizmann Collaborative Research Projects
The Pasteur-Weizmann Council supports research projects that involve at least one Institut Pasteur laboratory and one Weizmann Institute laboratory. Each selected project receives an annual sum of €70,000 during two years, to be shared equally between the laboratories. The projects, which are submitted in response to an annual call for applications, are assessed and classified by two committees of experts (one from each Institute). Based on these committees' opinions, the Chairman of the Pasteur-Weizmann Scientific Council, together with two scientific coordinators, selects two to three new projects every year. Thus far, 43 projects have received financial support from Pasteur-Weizmann.
2- Pasteur-Weizmann Exchanges
Every year, three to four researchers from each Institute spend a week at the partner Institute, at Pasteur-Weizmann's expenses, in order to become better-known (for example, through conferences, lectures and round table meetings) and to visit laboratories that they are likely to interact with. These laboratory visits and meetings with researchers are organised by a local host, who takes in the visitor during his time at the Institute.
3- Pasteur-Weizmann Symposia
Every other year, the Pasteur-Weizmann Council organises a symposium on a specific topic, to be held in turn at Institut Pasteur or the Weizmann Institute. These symposia bring together around thirty researchers, mainly from the two Institutes, to present their research and future plans.
4- Multinational collaborative projects
Since 2001, the Pasteur-Weizmann Council has sought to extend its collaborative research programmes to other European Institutes of Excellence. One research programme on the development of new anticancer molecules derived from retinoic acid has been launched by Institut Pasteur, the Weizmann Institute and the Istituto Mario Negri (Milan, Italy).
5- Doctoral Training
In 2002, an agreement was signed by Institut Pasteur, the Weizmann Institute and the Pasteur-Weizmann Council on the exchange of top-level researchers and students as part of the pre-doctoral (DEA- and thesis-level in the French system) and post-doctoral specialised training provided at the Institut Pasteur Education and Training Department and the Weizmann Institute Feinberg Graduate School.
Every year since 2002, two post-doctoral grants are available to ensure reception in each of the institutes of young scientists from the partner institute having completed their doctorate within the last 6 years. This program aims to encourage the involvement of young researchers in the collaboration Pasteur-Weizmann.
History and organisation of Pasteur-Weizmann
A brief history
On 9 December 1974, Robert Parienti, Delegate General to Europe for the Weizmann Institute, met with the French Minister of Health, Mrs Simone Veil. During this meeting, where the isolation of Israeli researchers was discussed, Mrs Veil put forward the idea of a partnership between Institut Pasteur and the Weizmann Institute for the first time. She assured Robert Parienti of her active support if the idea were approved by both Institut Pasteur and the Weizmann Institute. Several weeks later, André Lwoff visited the Weizmann Institute together with Robert Parienti. It was in the plane to Israel that the idea of officially associating Institut Pasteur and the Weizmann Institute in cancer research was born. The fight against cancer, an indisputable initiative, was to be above all sectarian and political criticism.
This idea was greeted with much enthusiasm from the heads of both Institutes: Michael Sela (Weizmann Institute) and Jacques Monod (Institut Pasteur). With a rare kind of courage in the political climate of the times, Mrs Veil, Minister of Health at the time in France, agreed without hesitation to become Honorary Chairman of the Pasteur-Weizmann Council. Since then, she has spared no effort and has given generously of her time, without which Pasteur-Weizmann would no doubt not have made it past the first moments of enthusiasm.
The creation of the "Pasteur-Weizmann Council for Cancer Research was announced on 28 March 1975 at a press conference led by Mrs Simone Veil and Prof Jacques Monod, organized by Léon Zitrone and broadcast live by ORTF.
More than 35 years have elapsed. The Pasteur-Weizmann partnership has continued to expand with a strong framework, thanks to specific financial backing.
Administrative and Organizational Structure
The Pasteur-Weizmann Council is a non-profit association, legally independent of Institut Pasteur and the Weizmann Institute.
Its objective is to raise funds to be distributed equally to the two Institutes in order to encourage the collaboration of researchers from both Institutes in cancer research.
Board of Directors :
The Pasteur-Weizmann Council is headed by a Board of Directors who are appointed at the Annual General Assembly, itself composed of donors and persons known for their administrative, scientific or financial expertise. The Board of Directors is renewed by half every three years. The Board elects its Chairman from amongst its members.
Scientific Council :
The Board of Directors bases its scientific decisions on the advice of the Scientific Council. The Scientific Council is made up of 9 members: 4 Institut Pasteur researchers and 4 Weizmann Institute researchers, each of whom are appointed by the Board of Directors on recommendation of the Heads of both Institutes, and a Chairman appointed by the Board of Directors. The 8 researchers serve a 6 years term, while the Chairman serves a 3-year term. Half the members of the Council are renewed every 3 ans.
Committees of experts :
The Head of each Institute appoints a committee of experts whose responsibilities include:
- evaluating and classifying Pasteur-Weizmann collaborative research projects that have been submitted in response to a call for applications. The classifications are carried out independently by the two expert committees and are sent to the Chairman of the Scientific Council who, together with the scientific coordinators (see below) selects the final projects.
- drawing up the list of scientists from its Institute who will visit the partner Institute.
- choosing which researchers from the other Institute's list will visit its Institute, and appointing a "mentor" in charge of accompanying the visitor and organizing his/her time at the partner Institute
Scientific Coordinators :
The Head of each Institute appoints a "scientific coordinator" to act as an interface in his own Institute between a) the researchers, General Management and the Committee of Experts at his Institute and b) the Pasteur-Weizmann Council (i.e. Scientific Council, Board of Directors).