Michael de Picciotto
The Picciotto-Lesser Cancer Cell Observatory
In addition to his successful and varied career in asset management, private banking and trading, Michael de Picciotto has had a profound interest in supporting scientific life-saving research efforts. He established the de Picciotto-Lesser Cancer Cell Observatory in Memory of Wolfgang and Ruth Lesser, which allows researchers and scientists to conduct in-depth analyses of cancer cells using advanced imagine techniques which deliver very high-definition results and permit for cells to be viewed “in action”. This has significant implications for future research in cancer cells and their movements.
Michael de Picciotto collaborated with the Moross Integrated Cancer Centre (MICC) to establish the observatory as a crucial infrastructure unit within the MICC, joining the Weizmann-Brazil Tumor Bank and the Kleinman Cancer Cell Sorting Facility and significantly improving the MICC’s ability to analyse cells. The MICC itself was established by the Weizmann Institute of Science with the goal of addressing the challenge that cancer poses. The Weizmann Institute of Science is a top-ranking research institution, and has currently six Nobel Laureates associated with it. It was founded in 1934 and is home to 3,800 students, faculty and staff.
The observatory’s dedication to his grandparents comes out of Michael’s profound admiration for them and their struggles in the 20th century. His maternal grandparents having fled from Germany in 1933 to Amsterdam before being deported to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in 1943. They survived the Holocaust and lived in Amsterdam until the 1980s, when they moved to Israel. Michael de Picciotto has described them as extremely generous and charitable individuals and wished for the Cancer Cell observatory to be established in their name, all the more significant since Wolfgang Lesser himself passed away from pancreatic cancer in 1995.
The de Picciotto-Lesser Cancer Cell Observatory provides an unprecedented depth to imaging various life processes, allowing to observe different scales, going all the way from an entire functional organism down to a single molecule. It enables researchers to observe specific alterations occurring in cancer cells on molecular and cellular levels. Understanding these, will lead to fresh insights and pave the way to new diagnostic and therapeutic avenues. Michael de Picciotto hopes that the observatory can be a meaningful contribution to better understand cancer. Himself coming from a family of engineers and with a life-long interest in science, he is eagerly following the Observatory’s work and its potentially life-saving results.