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Chapter 14 The early history of biochemistry in Israel

Elsevier Science & Technology
DOI: 10.1016/s0069-8032(00)41018-1
  • Chemistry
  • Medicine


Publisher Summary This chapter discusses the early history of biochemistry in Israel. Biochemistry in Israel is an active field, with some 1,000 scientists conducting research in scores of laboratories at institutes of higher learning, at hospitals and with the biotechnological industries. By and large trained in Israel, and having done their postdoctoral studies in leading laboratories in the United States and Europe, a considerable number of them have gained an international reputation. Many of these Israeli-trained biochemists can be considered the scientific descendants of the handful of German–Jewish biochemists who arrived in the 1920s and early 1930s at the fledgling Hebrew University of Jerusalem, what was then Palestine under British rule, an underdeveloped and sparsely settled country. These founding fathers of Israeli biochemistry were not only distinguished scientists but also dedicated teachers. The products of the most prominent biochemistry centers of the times, they brought with them the European traditions of high standards of research, with an emphasis on integrity, self-criticism, humility, devotion to their students, and a deeply rooted striving for excellence. They passed all these traditions to future generations of biochemists, first in Palestine, then, after 1948, in Israel. The chapter deals mainly with the three major schools, established by Andor Fodor, Ernst Wertheimer, and Yeshayahu Leibowitz at the Hebrew University, which flourished there, as well as at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot. The discussion primarily focuses on the quarter of a century prior to the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, and to the first two decades thereafter.

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