Previous Fora / 2011


Wolf Prize Laureate, President, Israel Academy of Sciences

Prof. Ruth Arnon, Formerly  Vice-President  of  the  Weizmann  Institute  of  Science (1988-1997), Prof.  Arnon is  a  noted  immunologist. Prof.  Arnon joined  the  Institute  in 1960.  Prior to her appointment as Vice-President, she served as Head of the Department of  Chemical  Immunology,  and  as  Dean  of  the  Faculty  of  Biology. From 1985  to  1994, she  was  the  Director  of  the  Institute's  MacArthur  Center  for  Molecular  Biology  of Tropical Diseases.  Prof. Arnon has made significant contributions to the fields of vaccine development,  cancer  research  and  to  the  study  of  parasitic  diseases. Along with  Prof. Michael  Sela,  she  developed  Copaxone®  a  drug  for  the  treatment  of  multiple  sclerosis which was  approved  by  the  U.S.  Food  and  Drug  Administration,  and  is  presently marketed  in  the  USA,  Canada  the  EU,  Australia  and  many  other  countries  worldwide. 

Prof. Arnon is a member of the Israel Academy of Sciences, and was the Chairperson of its Sciences  division  from  1995-2001.  On the  world  scene,  she  is an elected member of the European  Molecular  Biology  Organization  (EMBO).  She has  served  as  President  of the European Federation of Immunological Societies (EFIS), and as Secretary-General of the International Union of Immunological Societies (IUIS), and is presently a member of the European Union Research Advisory Board (EURAB) and served as the Senior Vice-President  of  the  Association  of  Academies  of  Sciences  in  Asia  (AASA  and  she  also served as the President of the Association of Academies of Sciences in Asia (AASA). Her awards  include  the  Robert  Koch  Prize  in  Medical  Sciences,  Spain's  Jiminez  Diaz Memorial  Prize,  France's  Legion  of  Honor,  the  Hadassah  World  Organization's  Women of Distinction Award, the Wolf Prize for Medicine, the Rothschild Prize for Biology and the  Israel  Prize,  Honorary  Doctorate  Tel-Hai  University;  Honorary  Doctorate  –  Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Honorary Doctorate – Tel-Aviv University, The AESKU Prize  for  Life  Contribution  to  Autoimmunity  by  the  6th  International  Congress  on Autoimmunity,  Member  of  the  American  Philosophical  Society;  President  of  the  Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities (Oct 2010).



09:00-11:00 18 NOVEMBER

Both worldwide, and in the state of Israel in particular, there is an increasing request, and even demand, that science become more "relevant" to the needs of the state and society at large. This is implemented by the availability of specific relevant earmarked grants and sometimes by government intervention. The role of the academies is to be a leader and a driver in maintaining academic freedom, and enabling the performance of basic research.
In 2009 the national expenditure on civilian R&D in Israel was 4.5% of the GDP, higher than in all developed industrialized countries that are members of the OECD, but most of the funding for R&D originates from the industry.
A comparison between the average government investment in R&D in Israel and other countries belonging to the OECD shows that while in these countries it reaches 29% of the national expenditure, in Israel it is only 16%. Furthermore, the share of the expenditure on basic research has gone down due to the cuts in the budget of higher education in the last ten years. The role of the Israel Academy along with the universities is on the one hand to be responsive to the needs of the country, but on the other to argue for the increase of government share in investment in R&D.
The Science Forum is a place of gathering forces and sharing experiences. Following are some examples of most recent developments in Israel promoted by the Academy:

a)  A major increase in the budget of the Israel Science Foundation (ISF): about doubling in five years was approved by the government.
b)  Establishment of a new division for clinical and translational medical research in the ISF.
c)  Creating a "pool" of budgets (TELEM) universities and government agencies for supporting infrastructure.
d)  Creating a new unit at the Academy (YAHALOM) for science evaluation and counsel.
e)  Increase of international cooperation with the EU, the USA as well as selected individual academies.