Battle for Brains: Israeli Science and Technology

Article excerpt

Throughout Israel's history, international attention heaped on the state has focused overwhelmingly on the region's political and religious tensions. Less noted in the midst of these conflicts is Israel's science and technology sector, which has been flourishing, though it is not without troubles of its own. With research institutions on par with some of the greatest research universities in the globe, Israel has contributed significantly to the world's advancement of science and technology.

Israel's role as a key contributor to the scientific community over the past several years has been unmistakable if underreported. Despite its relatively small size (a modest 6,276,883 people live on 8,130 square miles of land) and youthful population, Israel has generated much scientific innovation in fields such as agriculture, military, and medicine. In fact, science and technology continues to contribute heavily to Israel's economic growth.

Israel is steeped in a proud tradition of scientific scholarship. The first president of Israel, Chaim Weizmann, a chemist, founded a research university that in 1949 was rechristened the Weizmann Institute of Science. In 2004 two Israeli biochemists from the Israel Institute of Technology shared the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. In 2005 Robert J. Aumann of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem won the Nobel Prize for his work on game theory. Five other Israelis have won the Nobel Prize over the last 40 years.

Israel's technological sector has evolved due to necessity. A country constantly plagued by security concerns and water shortages, Israel has become world-renowned in the military and agricultural sectors with such innovations as the Uzi submachine gun and genetically engineered crops. This has led to Israel's predominance in numerous world markets.

Over time, Israel's science sector has evolved from research by necessity to innovation for global advancement. Israeli research institutions have been active in basic research for clinical applications. The Weizmann Institute of Science developed a revolutionary drug for treating multiple sclerosis called Copaxone in the 1990s. …


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