$100M To Fight Israeli Brain Drain
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$100M To Fight Israeli Brain Drain

Mortimer Zuckerman to fund STEM program to counter BDS and lure Israeli researchers back to the Jewish state.

Amy Sara Clark writes about politics and education. A Columbia Journalism School graduate, she's worked at CBS News, The Journal News, The Jersey Journal, Mom365, JTA and Prospect Heights Patch. She comes to journalism from academia where she earned a master's degree in European History with a focus on Vichy France.

To stem the Israeli academic “brain drain” and increase cooperation between the U.S. and Israeli scientific collaboration, newspaper publisher and philanthropist Mortimer Zuckerman has committed more than $100 million to attract postdoctoral researchers in science, math and related fields from Western countries to Israeli universities and lure Israeli academics back.

“This project will help bring back home some of Israel’s most brilliant sons and daughters, allow them to advance their own careers here and in so doing contribute to Israel’s growing scientific excellence, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a video address during a news conference Monday announcing the program. “It will also enable some of America’s brightest young scientists to conduct their research in Israel.”

A 2013 study by the Taub Center for Social Policy Studies in Israel found that between 2008 and 2013, just over 1 in 5 faculty members at Israeli universities have left the country to work at American universities. Another study found that one in four Israeli scientists had left the country.

That statistic has improved in recent years, according to a 2015 survey by the Israel National Brain Gain Program, which reported that the number of academics living abroad remained steady between 2012 and 2014 after years of rising steadily.

The Zuckerman STEM Leadership Program will give the funds out over 20 years to four Israeli universities: Technion, Weizmann Institute, Hebrew University and Tel Aviv University.

At a news conference Monday morning at the Harvard Club, academics, including three Nobel Prize laureates, praised the program for fostering both scientific collaboration and, as Nobel Prize Laureate Richard Axel put it, “a free and open dialogue” between researches from both countries.

The program has two main components: the Postdoctoral Scholars Program, which will support postdoctoral researchers from the United States and other Western countries at the four schools, and Zuckerman Faculty Scholars, which is designed to bring Israeli academics back to the Jewish state by funding new labs, programs and projects at the Israeli institutions.

“At a time when collaboration is essential to advanced scientific research, this program gives the next generations of leading American and Israeli academics the ability to work together on cutting-edge research in ways that stand to benefit their fields for years to come,” Zuckerman said in a release. “The result will help transform not just the work of the scholars involved, but the way the United States and Israel approach collaboration and cooperation across the sciences.”

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