BOG 2016: BLAVATNIK CENTER for Drug Discovery is Officially Launched
The beautiful, state-of-the-art new BLAVATNIK CENTER for Drug Discovery (BCDD) was inaugurated in a festive ceremony during the TAU International Board of Governors Meeting.
The first of its kind to be established at an Israeli university, the BCDD brings together an expert team of TAU scientists in an advanced core laboratory that will function as a national “one stop shop” for accelerating drug design and development in academia. It will serve dozens of research groups across the TAU campus – as well as from other Israeli research institutions – at a critical stage in their research, ensuring that exciting lab breakthroughs are advanced to the stage where they are ripe for commercial development.
The BCDD was made possible through the generosity of TAU Honorary Doctor Len Blavatnik as part of the $20 million Blavatnik Initiative established in 2014 – a multi-year program committed to the advancement of interdisciplinary scientific research, discovery, and development.
Among those present at the inauguration ceremony were TAU President Joseph Klafter; TAU Rector Prof. Yaron Oz; Israel representative of the Blavatnik Family Foundation Avi Fischer; scientific adviser to Mr. Blavatnik and former CEO of Ramot, TAU’s commercial arm, Dr. Isaac Kohlberg; and several leaders of the Israeli pharmaceutical industry.
From left: Head of BDDS Prof. Ehud Gazit, Rector Yaron Oz, TAU President Joseph Klafter and Israeli Representative of the Blavatnik Family Foundation Avi Fischer
The ceremony was moderated by Prof. Ehud Gazit, Director of the BCDD and former Chief Scientist of the Ministry of Science and Technology of Israel. “This Center will be instrumental in translating outstanding research into drug candidates,” said Gazit in his opening greetings. “We are very grateful to Mr. Blavatnik for this generous donation and for the continued support of the Blavatnik Family Foundation, as well as the ongoing personal guidance of Dr. Isaac Kohlberg.” Dr. Kohlberg is Mr. Blavatnik’s scientific adviser and a former CEO of Ramot, TAU’s commercial transfer arm. “We feel very fortunate to have received their support, belief and involvement in this important project, which is of as high a standard as any of the top universities around the world and carries the highest importance, not only for Tel Aviv University, but for Israeli academia in general,” he continued.
Prof. Gazit also thanked several individuals who have been instrumental in creating the Center, among them Managing Director of the BCDD Dr. Ludmila Buzhansky; co-founding members Profs. Ronit Satchi-Fainaro, Miguel Weil, Haim Wolfson and Doron Shabbat; and the outstanding team of new recruits now working at the Center.
“The Center will advance convergence,” said Prof. Klafter as he addressed the large audience in attendance at the ceremony. “When we talk about convergence in science, we’re referring to interdisciplinary collaboration between diverse fields. In this lab we’ll have experts hailing from medicine, biology, biotechnology, chemistry and computer science.”
Avi Fischer spoke of Mr. Blavatnik’s philanthropic activities, stating that, “healthcare, biotechnology and high-tech are the things that most interest Len, and Tel Aviv University is the only Israeli university that he supports. What he most wants to see is greater synergy between industry and the academy." The new BCDD will help make this a reality.
The ceremony culminated with a brief talk by Prof. Ronit Satchi-Fainaro of the Sackler Faculty of Medicine, and a tour of the BCDD.
Among the specialized facilities at the BCDD will be a high-throughput analysis robot, a state-of-the-art computer cluster/server for computer modeling, an organic chemistry lab for chemical synthesis, a bioproduction facility and a wet lab for target validation. With this state-of-the-art equipment and inherently multidisciplinary approach, the BCDD is anticipated to lead to the discovery of new drug targets and biological processes, and transform them into pharmaceutical leads that will eventually be picked up by industry. It will build on TAU’s outstanding drug development track record and large pool of biomedical scientists and clinicians – the largest in Israel – to speed up and expand its contribution to this vital field. To date, the University has filed 2,400 patents, making it 29th in the world for patents among academic institutions. Currently, 23 drugs and medical treatments based on Tel Aviv University intellectual property are in the development pipeline.
See the video of the ceremony.