Celebrating Invention with ACWIS







Chicago as a hub of innovation in technology is celebrated daily with entrepreneurs and scientists combining discovery with economic potential. Nowhere was this celebration more inventive than at the recent gala put on by the Midwest Region of the American Committee for the Weizmann Institute of Science (ACWIS), raising more than $1.3 million for the organization.

More than 620 guests packed the Geraghty, a former Wicker Park paper mill, now one of the City’s most innovative venues, which toasted discovery with interactive displays throughout. Renée and Lester Crown served as honorary chairs, with Janet and Steve Anixter and JoAnn Anixter Silva as event chairs. Corporate co-chairs were William Brodsky and Richard Price.


Event chairs Janet Anixter, Steve Anixter, and JoAnn Anixter Silva.

Michael Polsky, founder and CEO of Invenergy, a clean-energy company, received the Wiezmann 2018 Leadership Award for his career-long commitment to innovation, entrepreneurship, and the application of science and technology for the betterment of the world. With 30 years of experience in the energy industry, Michael Polsky is widely recognized as a pioneer and industry leader in the power industry of North America.


Leadership Award honoree Michael Polsky.

Janet Davies of WLS-TV/ABC7 served as emcee. Prof. Avigdor Scherz, a Weizmann scientist whose work has contributed to advancements in cancer therapy, spoke before dinner about a new approach to prostate cancer therapy. After dinner, University of Chicago President Robert J. Zimmer talked about the intersection of basic and applied sciences.


Dr. Shadi Bartsch, University of Chicago President Robert J. Zimmer, and Michael Polsky.

Steve Anixter, a national and Midwest region board member as well as the event chair, said afterwards:

“We were thrilled to spotlight so much of the Institute’s important work through our honoree, Michael Polsky, and our speaker, Weizmann Prof. Avigdor Scherz. Professor Scherz spoke about his work involving a new approach to prostate cancer therapy, vascular-targeted photodynamic therapy (VTP), which has been approved for first-line treatment in Europe and hopefully approved by the FDA in the coming year. Polsky and his company, Invenergy, share the Institute’s belief that, to preserve our planet while enabling people to live comfortably, there must be sustainable, practical, non-polluting energy.”


Funmi Olopade, Michael Polsky, Sola Olopade, Professor Avigdor Scherz, and Dr. Zahava Scherz.

Ranked sixth in the world by the Nature Index of Innovation, which extolls the link between discovery and its economic potential, the ACWIS had much to celebrate that night including finding ways to treat 97 percent of the earth’s water that is too salty and creating the world’s smallest computer out of DNA. It was the first to clone the gene involved in more than 50 percent of all cancers and to develop first-line drugs for complex diseases such as multiple sclerosis.

Since its establishment in 1934, the Weizmann Institute of Science, based in Rehovot, Israel, has grown into one of the world’s foremost centers of multidisciplinary research and graduate study in the world. With a 3,800-person strong scientific community, it fulfills its founders’ vision that it be a place of peace, collaboration, and scientific excellence. The Institute’s basic research has led to discoveries and theories with major impact on the global scientific community, as well as on the quality of life of millions of people worldwide. The Institute also invests in the scientists of tomorrow, offering science education for everyone from schoolchildren to postdocs—even the general public, since a science-literate citizenry is crucial to our common future. It continues to make breakthroughs in fields ranging from quantum computing to cancer, astrophysics to Alzheimer’s, world hunger to stem cells, and from clean energy to other planet-protecting research.

For more information about the ACWIS, visit weizmann-usa.org.


Sam Temkin and Ilyce Glink Temkin.


Dror Zetouni, Adam Schneiderman, and David Jonas.


National Vice President and Midwest Regional Executive Director Lee J. Brown and Dawn Lavin.


Juan Alzade, Robyn Tavel, Harry Epstein, and Marilyn Perlman.


Vidushi Agrawal and Nishant Agrawal.


Louise Pesce, John Guilds, Hazuki Watanabe, and Utae Nagayoshi.


Joel Koppenhoefer, Kate Koppenhoefer, Lynn Neuman, and Jeffrey Drake.


Adam Wright and Sabrina Wright.


David Berger, Kathryn Skolarz, John Guilds, Lucy Bortman, and Brian Bortman.


Lisa Aronin and Jeff Aronin.


Michael Polsky, William Brodsky, and Professor Avigdor Scherz.


Photo credit: Lee A. Litas