Two young Israeli scientists receive an internship in Merck headquarters
Drs. Dmitry Zabezhinsky and Jean Wakim on their way to Merck R&D
Drs. Dmitry Zabezhinsky and Jean Wakim, two recent graduates of the Weizmann Institute of Science, in Rehovot, Israel, are heading to Darmstadt, Germany, to the headquarters of Merck. They will work with Merck scientists and clinicians in the company’s R&D, in a pilot for a unique internship program set up by Yeda Research and Development, the technology transfer arm of the Weizmann Institute of Science, and Merck. The idea is to give young people who have just completed their PhDs an internship in pharmaceutical research and development in one of the largest and most advanced R&D facility in the world.
The program was first conceived during a brainstorming session between Yeda leadership and Dr. Ulrich Betz, Merck Biopharma’s Vice President and Head of the Innovation Department and Entrepreneurship Incubator. Dr. Betz recalls, “We wanted to deepen the relationship between Merck and the Weizmann Institute—one of Merck’s most important and fruitful academic alliances—in order to bridge the gap from academia to industry.”
Yeda’s CEO Gil Granot-Mayer adds: “These individuals will gain important new knowledge from one of the best pioneering pharmaceutical companies in the world, in a context that doesn’t exist in Israel; their eventual return to Israel will yield needed expertise. The program is also of benefit to the Weizmann Institute itself, as their work could foster technology transfer opportunities in drug development.”
At the end of their internship, the two are invited to present plans to Merck for further development, or else they may venture out into the world of biotechnology in Europe or in Israel. Zabezhinsky, who earned his PhD in molecular genetics will be working with compounds that can be used to target anti-cancer drugs to tumors. He and Wakim, whose PhD research involved intercellular communication in cancer, will be working in the same lab in Darmstadt.
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