Chaim Weizmann, the son of Jewish parents, was born in Russia in 1874. He studied at Pinsk, Darmstadt and Berlin before obtaining his doctorate from the University of Fribourg, Switzerland. He later taught chemistry at the University of Geneva.
Weizmann developed a number of successful patents on dyes. In 1904 he moved to Manchester where he worked with the chemist Henry Perkin. He became a British citizen in 1910 and soon afterwards discovered a bacterium which converted carbohydrate into acetone. This proved to be an important discovery as it was used in large quantities during the First World War. In 1916 he was appointed Director of the Admiralty Laboratories.
Weizmann, a staunch Zionist, served as President of the World Zionist Organization (1920-1931) and head of the Jewish Agency (1929-1946). In these posts he campaigned passionately for a Jewish homeland in Palestine.
The Jewish state of Israel was established on 14th May 1948 when the British mandate over Palestine came to an end. Weizmann became the country's first president.
Chaim Weizmann died in 1952.