Yair Rotstein, Executive Director of the U.S.-Israel Binational Science Foundation

Since our last issue of Vision Magazine, life here in Israel, in America, and around the world has changed dramatically.

In ways large and small, the coronavirus has affected everyone, everywhere, and BSF is no exception. Though our office in Jerusalem remains closed, our staff is working from home. I must give an enormous thank you also to the scientists on our many review panels who are doing everything possible to keep us going.

It has not been easy. We are in the process of collecting some 1,500 ad-hoc reviews from around the world. This is difficult even in a normal year. Now, we face a moment in time that is anything but normal. Many of our reviewers are balancing their unpaid work on our behalf with so many other things, like caring for their families and loved ones. Those of them in the health sciences face unrelenting caseloads, and in many cases are on the front lines, risking their own lives to treat patients with COVID-19. We owe these almost 1,500 scientists from around the world an exceptionally big THANK YOU!

The pandemic has affected BSF in other ways, too. Our American members of the evaluation panels are not traveling to Israel. With many colleges closed, and strict social distancing enforced, many of our grantees cannot even work side-by-side with their teams, let alone fly across the Atlantic to meet with their partners.

Even so, everyone associated with BSF is moving forward as best they can. Face-to-face meetings have become video conferences. And I am proud to say that many current and former BSF grantees – especially those in the public health, virology, and artificial intelligence fields – are giving their time and their talents to fighting the virus on several fronts. Many are trying to develop cures, while others are using their skills to figure out new approaches that could help slow the virus’s rampant spread.

In this issue of Vision Magazine, you will learn more about how BSF grantees – Israelis and Americans – are responding to this crisis. Additionally, you will also discover how a BSF-funded project is addressing HIV, another pandemic affecting millions of people world-wide.

You will also find out more about our very successful association with the Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Foundation. Over the past several years, the Foundation has made generous gifts to BSF through our Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Foundation – BSF Multiplier Research Grants Program. This has created successful partnerships between top scientists and researchers in Israel and their counterparts at UCLA and UC Berkeley. Together, they are exploring many key questions in an impressive variety of scientific fields.

Finally, I can tell you that BSF has selected a successor who will take over my role when I retire in October. Though we cannot release his name yet, I have been working closely with him, and I already know that BSF will be in very capable and talented hands.

Now, more than ever in our lifetimes, people and leaders across the globe realize how vital science is to our world, and even to our survival. Israelis and Americans have both faced challenging times before. We are doing that again. It is my sincere hope that this crisis will end soon, and that we will come out of it even stronger than before.

For now, I hope everyone stays safe, stays informed, and stays dedicated to making the world better for all of us.


Yair Rotstein
Executive Director