Hi-tech developer shows a product in Hebrew University (illustration)
Hi-tech developer shows a product in Hebrew University (illustration)Hadas Parush / Flash 90

Media and real estate mogul Mortimer Zuckerman announced this week a new $100 million science scholarship program that would give grants to American postdoctoral researchers and graduate students in science, technology, engineering and math, who want to study with faculty at four Israeli institutions.

The four institutions are Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, Tel Aviv University and the Weizmann Institute of Science.

Grants will also go to those four institutions, to help them develop laboratories and compete for top scholars in North America.

The Wall Street Journal reported that Zuckerman, the 78-year-old owner and publisher of the New York Daily News, said he got the idea for the scholarship at 5 a.m. one morning last summer, when he couldn’t sleep.

He had been thinking about how he could give back to America, which he reached as a young immigrant from Canada. “I got started in this country with a few friends and virtually no family but was able to find acceptance, opportunity and success beyond anything I ever imagined,” he said in an interview. “This is one way to give back.”

Zuckerman said he seeks to help talented scientists with leadership skills pursue advanced research abroad in a program that is not unlike the Rhodes scholarships. It will bring together American and Israeli researchers, in the hope that the collaboration will lead to new discoveries.

“This would be a collaboration of thought and discovery,” he said, predicting that the scholars’ leadership abilities would create a "multiplier effect” that would spread their influence in academia, government and business.

The program will give $100 million in grants over the next 20 years, starting in the 2016-17 academic year. US postdoctoral applicants must propose specific research projects with faculty members, and those with the most potential will be approved.