Zuckerman STEM Leadership Program

Opportunity for US-Israel Collaboration

The Zuckerman STEM Leadership Program provides over $100 million in scholarships and educational activities to participating scholars and Israeli universities, with funding for 20 years

Zuckerman Scholars with Eric Gertler, Zuckerman Institute trustee (center, with jacket), and Lina Deshilton, Zuckerman Israel Executive Director, at the Annual Zuckerman STEM Leadership Symposium
Zuckerman STEM Leadership Program

It’s not every day that researchers like Sarah Kostinski make a groundbreaking scientific discovery. But that is exactly what this Zuckerman Postdoctoral Scholar did in Dr. Shlomi Reuveni’s Chemistry lab at Tel Aviv University. With a PhD in Physics from Harvard and significant research background from Princeton, Russia and Australia under her belt, Dr. Kostinski unlocked the long-standing mystery of the bacterial ribosome: that it is made up of protein and RNA in an almost perfect 1:2 proportion.

This significant discovery – made in Israel –  will have a global impact on cellular biology, and is exactly what philanthropist Mortimer B. Zuckerman envisioned when he launched the Zuckerman STEM Leadership Program in 2016: a postdoctoral exchange program that encourages and supports collaboration between the world’s most advanced scientific research centers, Israel and the US. The program is designed to support future generations of leaders in science, technology, engineering and math in the US and Israel and foster greater research collaboration between the two countries.

“We celebrate this great scientific discovery, in the spirit that Mort Zuckerman believes in and supports in all his projects,” said Zuckerman Trustee Eric J. Gertler. “We will continue to support funding to STEM programs in the US and Israel to keep pace with innovation and discovery, strengthening Mort’s commitment to future generations of leaders.”

Three-tiered approach

Israeli universities continue to be recognized around the world as incubators of innovation in science and technology that drive new markets and industry, attracting a growing number of PhDs to Israel seeking cutting-edge research opportunities. The Zuckerman Postdoctoral Scholars Program gives exceptional American/Canadian postdocs in STEM fields an opportunity to collaborate with leading scientists at one of Israel’s seven research universities with a two-year fellowship. They are Bar-Ilan University, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, Tel Aviv University, University of Haifa, and Weizmann Institute of Science.

Exceptional Israeli PhD graduates have the same opportunity, with a two-year fellowship awarded through the Israeli Postdoc Program, to collaborate and conduct research at one of nearly 70 American and Canadian universities. These scholars are well-represented in research labs at MIT, Stanford, Harvard, Yale, Columbia, and Johns Hopkins, to name a few. The Zuckerman Institute is recognized as one of the leading, important philanthropic initiatives that encourages and supports the return of talented Israeli scientists to Israel. The Faculty Scholars Program facilitates “brain gain” by establishing a fully equipped lab in the scientist’s name. The program will expand to seven Israeli universities from its original four, thanks to funding from Israel’s Council for Higher Education. The program has already established 20 labs at four universities, supported by more than $20 million in joint funding from the Zuckerman Institute and participating universities.

Promoting US-Israel academic exchange

In addition to funding postdoc research, the Zuckerman Institute initiated partnerships that further promote scientific collaboration. “Our US-Israel partnerships are showing signs of success and having a meaningful impact on collaborations in many areas of science,” said James S. Gertler, Zuckerman Institute Trustee. “This continues our family’s commitment to basic scientific research and strengthens the vision of our uncle, Mort Zuckerman.”

The MIT-Israel Zuckerman STEM Fund supports new collaborations between faculty and research scientists at MIT and their counterparts in Israel at one of its seven participating universities. Training Zuckerman scholars to communicate and collaborate more effectively is the goal of a partnership with the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science at Stony Brook University.  The program trains scientists with the acclaimed Alda Method™ through workshops held in Israel. The Zuckerman Fund for Interdisciplinary Research in Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence taps into one of Israel’s AI research leaders, Technion–Israel Institute of Technology. The fund supports six research projects annually, conducted between researchers at the Technion’s main campus in Israel and the Jacobs Technion-Cornell Institute in New York.

Continuing the Zuckerman vision

The latest Zuckerman initiative promotes and supports gender equality with a scholarship program that recognizes outstanding Israeli female scholars accepted to postdoctoral programs in the United States or Canada. With matching support from the Zuckerman Institute and the CHE, the program will award 30 new scholarships annually.

“The Zuckerman STEM Leadership Program has experienced impressive growth and success in a very short time,” said Lina Deshilton, Zuckerman Institute Israel Executive Director. “We’re proud of leading the way in advancing the number of women in STEM in academic institutions, and increasing the number of scholars overall in the Zuckerman STEM Program. In just over four years, there are 171 scholars, nearly 70 US and Canadian universities and seven Israeli universities in the program. We’ve already seen positive results beyond the scientific nature of the program as Zuckerman Scholars return to the US and become “good will ambassadors” for Israeli innovation and academic scholarship.”

For more information on how to apply for a Zuckerman STEM Leadership fellowship, please visit: https://zuckerman-scholars.org/