American, Israel foundations build cancer-research center for Technion

Science and Health

A well-known foundation in the US and another in Israel have joined together in a collaborative effort to build the D. Dan and Betty Kahn Human Health Building, which will be home to the Bruce and Ruth Rappaport Cancer Research Center on the Haifa campus of the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology. Theirs were two of the largest donations in the history of the Technion’s long history.

Technion President Prof. Uri Sivan said that “the construction of this building and the cancer research center housed in it is nothing less than an historic event. which were made possible thanks to a first of its kind partnership between two foundations that share a long-standing tradition of generously supporting the Technion: The D. Dan and Betty Kahn Foundation and The Bruce and Ruth Rappaport Foundation.”

He added that the goals of the gift are cancer research and human health, using a multidisciplinary approach and relying on all the Technion’s capabilities and its close ties with hospitals, in particular with the nearby Rambam Health Care Campus. “I find it symbolic that these donations are made on the golden jubilee of the Technion Faculty of Medicine and at the opening of the Technion Centennial year. The generosity and the vision of the donors reflected in this initiative will lead the Technion to new heights. We will advance into the second century of the Technion, able to improve the lives of millions of people in Israel and around the world.”

Prof. Ami Aronheim, dean of the Ruth and Bruce Rappaport Faculty of Medicine said: “It is a symbolic event. Here will be combined the Technion’s engineering strength and the clinical strength of the affiliated hospital. Together, they will become a leading player in cancer research, a research hub for innovation, enabling us to conduct cutting-edge research that would serve as a catalyst for developing life-saving treatments.”

Laying ceremony held during June’s board of governor’s meeting

From left to right: Larry and Andi Wolfe, Irith Rappaport, Shir Goldstein, and Technion President Prof. Uri Sivan (credit: Rami Shelush for the Technion’s spokeswoman’s office)

The cornerstone laying ceremony was held during last June’s board of governors meeting at the Ruth and Bruce Rappaport Faculty of Medicine. Participants included philanthropists Ms. Irith Rappaport and Andi and Larry Wolfe; Technion President Prof. Uri Sivan; Dean of the Ruth and Bruce Rappaport Faculty of Medicine Prof. Ami Aronheim; Nobel Laureate Prof. Aaron Ciechanover, who will be board chairman of the new center; Prof. Amir Orian, head of the Cancer Research Center; members of the Technion senior administration and board; faculty members; and representatives of Technion Societies around the world.

Ciechanover, who conceived and established the center, recalled a line from the Mishna that Bruce Rappaport used to quote: “Without flour there is no Torah, but with no Torah there is no flour.” “This wisdom accompanied Bruce for decades. The Technion provided the Torah, the learning, he’d say, while the Rappaport family provided the flour.

“I started to dream about this Center when the first cancer drug based on the ubiquitin mechanism, which Professor Hershko and I discovered, came to the market,” he continued. “When you start basic research, you never know where it’s going to lead you. We, the researchers, are committed to turn this Center into a world-leading research center.”


Ruth and Bruce Rappaport were two of the greatest friends of the Technion/ In 2014, the Technion awarded Ruth Rappaport an honorary doctorate. She passed away in 2018, eight years after her husband Bruce. Their philanthropic legacy is continued by their daughters Irith Rappaport and Dr. Vered Drenger. 

“I would like to dedicate this day to my sister Shoshana who passed away last July after relentlessly fighting cancer for seven years,” said Irith, who spoke at the ceremony. “Despite the best available doctors, medications and innovative treatments that helped delay the bitter end, eventually the disease won. There is still a long way to go and a lot of research to be done in developing a comprehensive solution to this cursed disease.” 

Dan and Betty Kahn were among the Technion’s most important benefactors since the early 1960s. In 2008 their foundation constructed the Kahn School of Mechanical Engineering. Dan Kahn was a member of the Technion board of governors and the American Technion Society board. He received an honorary fellowship in 2006 and five years later an honorary doctorate. Their legacy is continued today by their daughter Andrea together with her husband Larry Wolfe.