The Hebrew University of Jerusalem dedicated the new home of The Edmond and Lily Safra Center for Brain Sciences (ELSC) in Jerusalem on June 13, 2017.
More than 400 people from Israel and abroad attended the gala celebration and naming ceremony of the largest neuroscience center in Israel and one of the most ambitious in the world.
Attended by Mrs. Lily Safra, a leading supporter of neuroscience research projects around the world, and Chairwoman of the Edmond J. Safra Foundation, which pledged a lead donation of $50 Million of the Center’s $150 Million initial budget.
“I am truly thrilled to join in celebrating this defining moment for ELSC when such an extraordinary new building becomes home to a remarkable community of researchers and students. Their multi-disciplinary study of the brain’s secrets will surely make a profound impact on how we treat disease and care for patients. I know that my husband Edmond would share my deep sense of pride that our names are associated with such pioneering work, and with such dedicated and inspiring people.”
Lord Norman Foster, the award-winning Founder and Executive Chairman of the British architectural firm Foster + Partners, which designed the new Center, also participated in the gala event.
“The project for the Edmond and Lily Safra Center for Brain Sciences is much like a city in microcosm, with some of the same challenges: how do we best create a sense of community, share knowledge, bring people together, and support collective endeavours towards common goals? The building works flexibly, accommodating a diverse range of requirements from customisable, individual workstations to a central courtyard that is the social heart, breaking the traditional mould of learning and making the process more collaborative. It is a celebration of the brain, and of the vital work that is carried out by the researchers here,” – Lord Norman Foster
The 14,500 square-meter Center will include state-of-the-art labs, classrooms, an innovative imaging center, and areas for biological and pre-clinical research. Significant emphasis was placed on constructing an environmentally friendly building with a focus on conserving energy and reducing carbon dioxide emissions.
The Edmond and Lily Safra Center for Brain Sciences is at the forefront of the revolution in neuroscience research. Harnessing the extraordinary opportunities created by advances in technology and medicine, ELSC is shaping the next generation of researchers to advance the brain sciences and transform the treatment of neurological and psychiatric disorders.
ELSC scientists have already paved a way towards fundamental understanding of brain processes in health and disease. At the Lab for Understanding Neurons, Prof. Idan Segev (pictured left) the David & Inez Myers Professor in
Computational Neuroscience, uses mathematical tools to digitally reconstruct a whole piece of cortical circuits using powerful computers. Using these models his team recently discovered rich structures or connectivity previously unknown. These “hidden” circuit structures pose constraints on how sensory information is processed in the neocortex. Prof. Merav Ahissar, the Joseph H. and Belle Braun Professor of Psychology, with longstanding interest in studying dyslexia, recently found that a central problem for dyslexics is forming prediction, a fundamental aspect of brain computing that governs our behaviors.
ELSC’s young generation of researchers are also studying the brain at unprecedented resolutions. Dr. Ami Citri, for example, received the prestigious $100,000 Adelis Brain Research Award for his outstanding work in the field of experience-dependent plasticity and its impact on diagnosis and treatment of psychiatric disorders. Most projects are led by ELSC’s PhD students, an elite group of young scholars.
The Inauguration was a great success with events spanning over 4 days. Some of the events showcased ELSC’s outstanding achievements over the years. Several events were dedicated to paying tribute to the generous donors who have helped build ELSC into the world-class institution it has become.
Left: Mr. Freddy Salem, Mrs. Muriel Salem, Mr. Menachem Ben-Sasson
Center: Mrs. Muriel Salem, Mr. Freddy Salem, Mrs. Catherine Haddad, Mrs. Cecile Ganansia
Right: Laure Ghouila-Houri, Serge Crasnianski