Martin Blank and Richard Ziman were hand picked by Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert to run their foundation. “My relationship with Rosalinde and Arthur goes back to my cub scout days,” related Martin Blank, co-trustee and COO of The Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Foundation. A professional relationship grew over the years with Martin providing legal expertise for Gilbert’s growing real estate business. Richard Ziman also had a close relationship with the Gilbert’s through his real estate expertise and he now serves as CEO and co-trustee of the Foundation.
Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert
Knowing of the Gilbert Foundation’s interest in funding UCLA and UC Berkeley and their long tradition of funding programs in Israel, in 2011 Gary Leo, the then executive director the American Friends of the U.S.-Israel Binational Science Foundation, introduced Blank and Ziman to the work of the BSF. Said Blank, “It was easy to agree, given our long history of support for research and for Israel. Providing support for the U.S.-Israel Binational Science Foundation (BSF) gave us the opportunity to serve many of our funding priorities at once.” Blank and Ziman established The Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Foundation – BSF Multiplier Research Grants Program and the Foundation provided funding over three years for two research projects.
Based on that success, in 2014 the Gilbert Foundation renewed The Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Foundation – BSF Multiplier Research Grants Program for another three years. Martin commented, “Renewed funding just made good sense to us. With research it’s hard to evaluate outcomes. Because of the research milestones already achieved and the important American and Israeli universities institutions involved, we renewed our partnership.”
“We also liked the innovative model,” Martin continued. “The BSF has a rigorous method of qualifying scientific research. They explained to us that too often excellent research is not funded due to the limitations of the BSF endowment. Our multiplier gift can help to overcome this limitation. It increases the number of excellent research collaborations that can be supported between qualified Israeli and American scientists. We hope that other funders will also adopt this innovative model.”
One scientific team receiving support throughThe Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Foundation – BSF Multiplier Research Grants Program is Professor Eran Halperin from Tel Aviv University and Professor Eleazar Eskin from UCLA.
Professor Eleazar Eskin from UCLA and Professor Eran Halperin from Tel Aviv University
Said Professor Eskin, “Eran and I met at a scientific conference in 2001 and have been close friends and collaborators since then. Many of our most important research contributions have been jointly authored papers. This includes our work on a problem called haplotype phasing in 2003 that led us to become involved in the first whole genome map of human variation that was published on the cover of Science in 2005. We have continued to work closely and publish together. Our groups are closely linked. We have many joint projects, regular conference calls and visits, and collaborations between our students. One of my Ph.D. students was a post doc in Professor Halperin’s group and one of his post docs was recruited to UCLA as a faculty member. We have very complementary perspectives and ideas.”
In their funded project they are working together on methods for the analysis of genetic data, specifically sequencing data. Related Eskin, “Over the last few years, it has become clear that genetic data itself is not going to provide the entire answer. With the additional funding, we are expanding our current goals to address the problem of analysis of genetic data in conjunction with other data types such as epigenetic data (changes to the DNA along one’s lifetime) and RNA expression. There is strong evidence that these additional signals can provide more insights to the mechanisms of the disease, for example, epigenetic changes have been shown to be strongly related to certain diseases and environmental effects.”
“Further,” he continued, “The project enables an exchange of ideas and collaborations between not only myself and Eran but also between our students. Everyone involved benefits from this collaboration of Israeli and American scientists. This is our first BSF project and we are very grateful for the support of our collaboration.”
This is one of the many reasons why Blank and Ziman of the Gilbert Foundation love their job. Arthur and Rosalinde Gilbert gave them an incredible opportunity and these accomplishments by Professors Eskin and Halperin are just another example of the Gilberts’ legacy through The Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Foundation.
Learn more about Professors Eskin and Halperin's research here
Learn more about the Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Foundation here