Lauding "The Len Effect”

Len Blavatnik’s contributions to Tel Aviv University are transforming the campus and Israel ​
12 September 2021
Lauding "The Len Effect”
Researchers and students at TAU’s BLAVATNIK CENTER for Drug Discovery brandish their “Len Effect” t-shirts.

The Len Effect in Numbers 

  • 5 major funds  
  • 38 drug discovery research collaborations 
  • 37,500 Cyber Week participants  
  • 390 computer science publications 
  • €26 million in EU grants in computer science alone 
  • 663 film scholarships  
  • 208 film festival entries and 79 film awards 
  • 19 young faculty recruits 
  • $43 million in grants by recruited faculty 


A partnership with British-American industrialist and global philanthropist, TAU Governor and Honorary Doctor Sir Leonard “Len” Blavatnik has fueled sweeping progress at Tel Aviv University, greatly contributing for over a decade to TAU’s success as an innovation leader.


Known at TAU as “The Len Effect,” the far-reaching impact of the Blavatnik Family Foundation’s generous contributions is felt throughout campus and beyond.


"We are deeply honored and inspired by Len’s wide-ranging and generous commitment to TAU. His passion for supporting excellence in science and education continues to have a transformative effect and will drive pioneering advancement for years to come,” says TAU President, Prof. Ariel Porat.


Blavatnik’s legacy of giving at TAU began with backing for scholarships and the Blavatnik School of Computer Science. From there, his Foundation pledged sizeable gifts to establish the Blavatnik Initiative, a multi-year program in the fields of computing, cyber, drug development, film production, and faculty recruitment.


“Len’s philanthropy illuminates the power of giving,” says Prof. Porat. “The programs supported by the Blavatnik Initiative have not only boosted specific areas, but also greatly contributed to others at the University, from AI to the ongoing battle against COVID-19.”


Blavatnik is the Founder and Chairman of multinational industrial group Access Industries. He earned his master's degree in computer science at Columbia University and an MBA at Harvard Business School and attributes his philanthropic values to his parents, who were both academics.


Len Blavatnik

Len Blavatnik at Tel Aviv University


The programs that have predominantly benefited from Blavatnik’s contributions over the years include:


BLAVATNIK CENTER for Drug Discovery

Launched in 2016, the Center is the first of its kind at an Israeli university to equip, staff and operate a state-of-the-art laboratory suite for advancing biomedical breakthroughs to the stage where they are ripe for clinical application and commercialization. The Center serves faculty members in Life Sciences, Medicine and Biomedical Engineering as well as at TAU’s 17 affiliated hospitals. Additionally, the Center collaborates with industry partners and other research institutions, both in Israel and abroad.


Research projects at the Center are investigating treatment avenues in cancer, neurodegenerative diseases and cardiology, as well as a number of rare diseases. This year a new Metabolite Medicine Division will open, doubling the size of lab facilities and expanding robotic testing of compounds that could redefine predictive, diagnostic and treatment options for physicians.  


“Thanks to Mr. Blavatnik’s vision of fostering the highest levels of scientific research and discovery, we are able to make incredible strides toward our mission of turning excellent multidisciplinary science into new and innovative drug candidates. We already have one spin-off company, Starget Pharma Ltd., that emerged from the Center and a handful of projects that are about to be commercialized,” says the Center’s Founding Director, Prof. Ehud Gazit of the Shmunis School of Biomedicine and Cancer Research, George S. Wise Faculty of Life Sciences, and the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, the Iby and Aladar Fleischman Faculty of Engineering.


Blavatnik Interdisciplinary Cyber Research Center

Established in 2014 in partnership with the Israel National Cyber Directorate, the Blavatnik Interdisciplinary Cyber Research Center advances awareness and activities in the cybersecurity arena to address challenges posed by the digital age to individuals, commercial enterprises, and sovereign states worldwide. The Center, which supports 30 to 40 research projects every year, is a founding host of the world-renowned Cyber Week conference at TAU.


“Mr. Blavatnik’s foresight to support cybersecurity research at an academic level in Israel from its infancy has boosted the country’s standing as a global industry powerhouse,” says Prof. Maj.-Gen. (Ret.) Isaac Ben-Israel, Director of the Cyber Center. "In the face of ever-evolving cyber threats and opportunities, human and technological capital is more valuable than ever to keep both the digital and physical world safe.”


Blavatnik Computer Science Research Fund

Established in 2014 at the Blavatnik School of Computer Science, the Blavatnik Computer Science Research Fund supports advanced research in high-impact areas that contribute to Israel’s economic prosperity.  These areas include algorithmic and computational processes, computer systems and networks, information security, bioinformatics, computer programming, and software engineering among others. The Fund also supports outstanding graduate students who will become the leaders and innovators in academia and industry in the future.


“The Fund has been instrumental in propelling students and researchers to the frontlines of Computer Science that increasingly plays a central role in our everyday lives. We increasingly see academic achievement translate into real-world impact by producing leaders who work with top high-tech companies, Israel’s defense sector, and academic institutions worldwide,” says Prof. Sivan Toledo, Head of the School.


Blavatnik Student Film Production Fund

The Blavatnik Student Film Production Fund provides vital financial support to upcoming Israeli filmmakers as they create high-quality, thought-provoking productions. Undergraduate and graduate students are awarded grants of between $2,000 and $5,000 per film, enabling them to transfer their ideas from the storyboard to cinematic work. The funding helps to reinforce TAU and Israel’s high standing in the global film community.


“The Blavatnik Family Foundation’s backing enables us to provide more opportunities to a diverse range of students, some of whom may otherwise not have had access to a world-class education. The year-over-year rise in number of TAU film students featuring at international film festivals is testament to the impact of the generous support,” says Prof. Raz Yosef, Head of the Steve Tisch School of Film and Television.


Blavatnik President's Faculty Recruitment Discretionary Fund

The Recruitment Fund helps the University compete for top talent in the global academic arena and raises the quality of TAU’s research. With the Fund's assistance, TAU has been developing its research capabilities in nanoscience, neuroscience, cyber, environmental studies, computational linguistics, tissue engineering, imaging, and more.


“Thanks to the Fund, TAU has been able to recruit 19 leading scholars to Israel from the world’s top academic institutions,” says TAU President Porat. “Not only that, but these recruits have more than quadrupled the Fund’s return-on-investment through competitive external research grants that pave the way for additional scientific breakthroughs.”


The Blavatnik Family Foundation

The Foundation is an active supporter of leading educational, scientific, cultural, and charitable institutions throughout the world. In addition to Tel Aviv University, the Foundation has backed academic strides at institutions including the University of Oxford and Harvard University.


In 2007, the Foundation established the Blavatnik Awards for Young Scientists in partnership with the New York Academy of Sciences, to recognize innovative and impactful accomplishments in the chemistry, physical sciences, and engineering or life Sciences. Building upon its success in the U.S., the Blavatnik Awards were expanded in 2017 to encompass Israel, in collaboration with the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities. So far, two outstanding TAU scientists, Prof. Oded Rechavi of the School of Neurobiology, Biochemistry and Biophysics, and Prof. Yossi Yovel of the School of Zoology, have been recipients of the Israeli award.



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