Every two years the Weizmann Institute of Science (WIS) gathers together its key international supporters to celebrate the Institute’s achievements and mark its global scientific impact to the benefit of humanity.
This year the Inspiring Connections Global Gathering was held in London from 5-8 June 2016 and attended by Australian representatives Dr Kirsten Shteinman (Weizmann Australia’s Executive Officer), Mrs Diane Shteinman AM and Dr Nora Scheinkestel – respected supporters of the Institute.
With over 300 attendees, representing the UK, Europe, the Americas, Israel, South Africa and Australia, this year’s event was the first held in the United Kingdom (UK). Hosted by Weizmann UK, it was held at prestigious venues of great historical significance and according to Dr Shteinman showcased the very best that London has to offer.
Australian participants, Diane Shteinman and Nora Scheinkestel, best describe the awe-inspiring three days spent in London:
“The Global Gathering was very meaningful, from the brilliance of the featured Weizmann scientists to the success and innovation of the projects they chose to highlight,” said Diane, who is known for her broad support of Israel.
“The Gathering instigated enormous admiration for the Weizmann UK organising committee in the magnificence of each venue, their historical relevance plus the obvious thought and detail applied to the organisation and implementation of the events.
“Any participant would return home filled with enthusiasm to promote and follow all activities of Weizmann in Israel and in particular any joint projects such as with the Garvan Institute here in New South Wales,” she said.
Dr Nora Scheinkestel, a well respected Australian businesswoman from a broad range of industries including the banking, communications and property sectors, said it was an extraordinary few days where she learned that discovery occurs in the heads of Weizmann scientists, not in a building.
“For a few days we inhabited a parallel universe. The bad in the world was not banished, but the focus was on advances which would address at least some of the evils we face – science for the benefit of humanity,” she said.
Of the events Dr Scheinkestel eloquently added:
“We stood in the twilight on a summer evening in the heart of London, in front of the Guild Hall, replete with centuries of history, and heard a regimental band play God Save the Queen and then the Hatikva…. and the audience sang along.
“We sat in the Institute of Engineering and Technology under the portraits of great physicists of the 20th century and listened to the brilliant young men and women of Weizmann pushing the boundaries of 21st century science.
“We were led in a meditation of how composers – like scientists – have shaped society – for good and bad – by the wonderful and learned Norman Lebrecht and then revelled in the newly rich baritone voice of Placido Domingo.
“A private viewing of ‘Botticelli Reimagined’ revealed how the same idea can be completely reinterpreted through different eyes and saw that same creativity at play in the potential of combining data analytics and leading edge medicine and a future of personalised therapy.
“We were taken on time travel: first, backwards (for remembering from where we’ve come is always important) and then we were shown possible futures and encouraged to be brave and explore the potential for good in scientific advances which might at first seem a bit frightening.
“The tiny delegation from Weizmann Australia took its place in this global community of like thinkers – people who wish for a better future and see Weizmann as an immensely important part of the answer. And an after dinner speech by ‘Aussie boy done good’, Mark Regev, now Israeli ambassador to the United Kingdom, further cemented our relevance – at least in our eyes!
“Next time, we’ll be celebrating the work of the Garvan-Weizmann Centre for Cellular Genomics!” Dr Scheinkestel concluded.
More information, photos and video can be found at www.weizmanngg2016.london.