Donors to call the shots in U.S.-Israeli science initiative


LOS ANGELES (JTA) – A joint American and Israeli foundation, and a California university are teaming for a program enabling donors to support their special scientific interests.

The Multiplier Research Grants Fund will support a United States-Israel Binational Science Foundation project between a scientist from a local American university and an Israeli researcher. The University of California, San Diego was chosen as the initial American participant.

San Diego residents will be asked to supplement the foundation grant of a UC San Diego scientist and his or her Israeli partner in the area of the donor’s interest.

Gary Leo, the foundation’s national director of development, initiated the program because of concerns over the foundation’s funding. The foundation is funded by interest derived from a $100 million endowment , but the annual yield has dropped with the shaky economy.

Leo said he hopes to expand the program nationwide and expects private support in the next two years to total $3 million to $5 million.

Since its beginning in 1972, the foundation has allotted $480 million, contributed equally by the governments of the United States and Israel, to support some 4,000 research projects at 190 universities.

Each project teams Israeli and American scientists, who are collaborating in research on cancer diagnosis, stem cell therapy, search for life in the universe, and protection against chemical warfare and insecticide poisoning.

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