Zimin Institutes has 43 supported research projects since the inception of the program, out of which 6 already have spin-offs, and one is a listed company.
The Zimin Institute at the Technion has awarded grants to its first four projects this year. Among the winners are Prof. Ron Kimmel working on a novel AI framework for cancer phenotyping and treatment planning, and Dr. Yonatan Savir, who develops a new way to use AI to improve biopsy-based diagnostics and prognosis.
Zimin Institutes continued supporting projects at Tel Aviv University. At the event at TAU in May 2023, seven projects were awarded the Zimin Institute winner title. Among the winners are Prof. Lihi Adler-Abramovich working on a new material for helping skin heal, which could be highly beneficial to treating injuries such as burns, and Prof. Natan Shaked mapping human sperm cells via ultra-rapid cell 3D tomography to improve the IVF process.
In May 2023, Boris Zimin was awarded the TAU Honorary President Circle pin, a sign of a high regard from Tel Aviv University. Boris has also joined the Technion board committee devoted to the strategic development of the Technion’s positioning (Pilsner Committee), which held its first meeting in 2023.
Two conferences were co-hosted by Technion with the Zimin Institute participation in 2023: Tech.AI annual conference, a national-level event that drew a wide audience, and joint workshop with the University of Toronto’s T-CAIREM program, one of the world’s largest programs supporting AI in healthcare.
2023 was also notable for Zimin Institutes in terms of new partners. One of them was Quacquarelli Symonds (QS), a global organization that provides higher education services and information, including university rankings, career advice, and international education resources. Another new partner is a philanthropic foundation, which supports science and technology across several domains worldwide. The foundation will provide additional support to the Zimin Institutes development in Israel, particularly focusing on the research translation part of the Institutes’ work. The partnership is in stealth mode while being finalized.
The School of Molecular and Theoretical Biology (SMTB, supported by the Zimin Foundation since 2016) held three offline schools this year. The Tartu session featured five labs and eleven courses (both in humanities and natural sciences); the Yerevan session featured eleven and fourteen, respectively. Both ended in conferences where schoolkids could present their completed projects to peers and teachers. Altogether, over 70 children took part in the program. In July, SMTB also held an offline school of bioinformatics in Uzhgorod (Ukraine), with over a hundred participants. It was the first live summer school in Ukraine to be held since the war started. Next year, SMTB plans another session in Uzhgorod and a traditional SMTB session at a location to be announced later. At present, SMTB runs six different programs, and the organizers are putting extra effort into developing the graduates’ community.
The Enlightener Award (Prosvetitel Prize in Russian) team has been contemplating changes to the project, which prompted it to conduct 28 interviews with scientists, thinkers, and public figures. The interviews focused on the award’s principles, the work of science popularizers, and the future of the institution itself. The team held its first conference dedicated to science communication in Berlin in November 2023, and there is a plan to make it a regular event. Such conferences would help shape the community and figure out what science communication is today and why we need it. The Enlightener Award Ceremony 2023 took place in Berlin as well.
The Enlightener online book club has been hard at work since November 2022, picking up speed in 2023. Its members have discussed nine books so far, including books about stress, atoms and electrons, economic catastrophes, female entrepreneurs of the nineteenth century, and more. The book club has launched a fee-based course for future book club moderators.
Also in 2023, the Enlightener Award tried out going on tour. It organized public talks by its laureates and nominees in Europe and beyond, such as lectures by Alexander Arkhangelsky and Galina Yuzefovich in Clermont-Ferrand and talks by Alexandra Arkhipova and Mikhail Maizuls in Yerevan. More than seven main program partners: international libraries, educational institutions, and universities.
The Zimin Foundation has partnered with several organizations that work in Ukraine. One of the projects we support runs education camps for high schoolers from frontline territories, offers them online programs and mentorship, supports their startups, and has launched an information campaign to make these children visible. Another project works in seven regions to try and stabilize the mental health of women and children who have survived bombings, violence, displacement, and death of loved ones. We support a getaway to rehabilitate the therapists working with this population. A third project we support is currently planning a summer education camp for Ukrainian war orphans in 2024.
The Zimin Foundation also supports a program aiming to restore city and village libraries in Ukraine. We have acquired 2545 new books from Ukrainian publishing houses for the #Ukrainian_Library_Renaissance project, which helps libraries damaged by the war, and the #книжки_вслід (books_follow) project, helping Ukrainian refugees abroad. We have also purchased 16 laptops for libraries in several Ukrainian municipalities: Zelenodolsk, Pervomaisk, Belozerka, Shevchenkovo, Kotlyarevo, Poligon, Mechetnya, Snigurivka, and Nikopol. Unfortunately, the Oles Honchar regional scientific library in Kherson, our pioneer project with the Ukrainian Library Renaissance, has been destroyed beyond repair by a Russian bombing.
Outside Ukraine, we have helped provide books in the Ukrainian language for children’s groups and mobile libraries within refugee help centers in Tbilisi, Padua, Balen, Chisinau, Split, Prague, and Varna. As of October 2023, the EU was officially hosting 4238010 Ukrainian refugees, mostly women and children.
The Zimin Foundation also supports education projects related to the war but not located inside Ukraine. We support Union School in Wroclaw (Poland), where over 220 refugee children of all school ages can study in the Ukrainian language, following a program certified by the Ukrainian education ministry. The school also helps integrate the children into the local community and offers psychological counseling.
In 2023, the Zimin Foundation sponsored scholarships for 15 Ukrainian children at the Le Sallay Dialogue school; in 2024, the foundation will sponsor 20 children.
After the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Nemtsov Foundation and the Zimin Foundation launched an emergency two-year scholarship for Ukrainian students who are not eligible to apply for government-funded programs in the Czech Republic. At the moment 14 Ukrainians are studying on multi-year scholarships at several universities.
In general we have 30 scholarships for both Ukrainian and Russian students and scholars affected by the war in multiple universities: Bochum University (Germany), Hunter College (NY, USA), Charles University, Prague University, Prague Academy of Arts (all in Czech Republic).
Redcollegia Prize, an independent media award established to support free professional journalism in Russia, keeps working even though Roskomnadzor (The Federal Service for Supervision of Communication, Information Technology and Mass Media) blocked the organization’s website in February 2023. So far, 23 journalists have been awarded in 2023. Redcollegia went through lots of changes this year, having acquired a newly elected board of the prize and a newly elected jury of the prize. The community of over 150 journalists was taking part in the election process, plus several professional conferences were held in 2023.
ReRussia, a research and media project, has fortified its reputation as an expert platform: it’s being quoted, cited, and read in Europe. ReRussia has held a conference in Vienna dedicated to Russia’s future after the war and is contemplating turning it into an annual event. The project also has plans to develop its own data center, as well as reinforce and expand its expert community.
In 2023 the Zimin Foundation also supported the work of the Free University, the Memorial, the Sakharov Center, the Boris Nemtsov Foundation, and Kovcheg (the Ark) as well as human rights activists and lawyers.
December 28, 2023