The British Council announced that UK and Israeli research institutions will work together on four new three-year bilateral projects in the use of stem cells to tackle degenerative diseases.
The projects, that will develop stem cell therapies to treat diabetes, heart disease, leukemia and anemia and Alzheimer’s, are the latest additions to the Britain Israel Research and Academic Exchange program (BIRAX), a £10 million initiative of the British Council investing in world-leading research jointly undertaken by scientists in Britain and Israel.
Bringing scientists together
The new round of funded projects, selected under BIRAX third call for proposals, brings together scientists from Edinburgh University, the Weizmann Institute of Science, the Technion – Israel Institute for Technology, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Exeter University, University of Cambridge and the University of Glasgow.
BIRAX was initiated 6 years ago by the British Council, British Embassy in Israel and the UK Science & Innovation Network in collaboration with founding partners Pears Foundation and the UJIA. Through the initiative they teamed up with philanthropic Foundations and leading UK Medical Research charities including the British Heart Foundation, JDRF, and Alzheimer’s Society. The program is also generously supported by funders including Weizmann UK, Clore Foundation, the Wolfson Foundation and Pears Foundation.
Promoting academic collaboration between the UK and Israel
Mr David Quarrey, the United Kingdom’s Ambassador to Israel said: “I am excited that four new projects have been selected for our flagship science research programme, the BIRAX Regenerative Medicine Initiative. I am delighted that our valued partners, including some of the UK’s leading medical foundations, have reaffirmed their partnership with us as we work together to deliver world-class, cutting-edge collaborative research projects that will both bring the UK and Israeli academic communities closer together, and take us a step closer to making the world’s most debilitating diseases a thing of the past.”
Sir Trevor Pears, Founder of the Pears Foundation, added: “The BIRAX Initiative continues to earn its reputation as a successful model for promoting academic collaboration between the UK and Israel through its commitment to science excellence. We are delighted about the new collaborations and we are proud to be one of the initial supporters of this important initiative that will have an enduring impact and legacy.”
Two of the four projects will feature collaboration with researchers at the Weizmann Institute of Science. These are Dr. Ugor Ulitsky, who will work with Dr. Andrew Baker of the University of Edinburgh on exploring how cells that line the blood vessels in the body develop. The information will be used to inform future work aimed at regenerating new blood vessels in damaged tissue; and Dr. Liran Shlush who will work with Dr. Elisa Laurenti of the University of Cambridge tol establish how mutations in blood stem cells affect their function and will lead to a better understanding of why the blood and immune system deteriorate with age.
The other two projects will pair researchers from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem with those in the University of Exeter to investigate type 1 diabetes; and teams from the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology and the University of Glasgow, who will be looking into a mechanism that may be implicated in Alzheimer’s disease.
Israel BDS – building dialogue through science – aims to promote the kind of international collaboration that can lead to true understanding between people. Israel BDS stands for the free and open exchange of ideas among scientists everywhere. By reporting on the benefits of Israeli-international scientific research and the web of connections that these scientists create around the world, Israel BDS takes a vibrant approach to highlighting the global necessity of continued international scientific collaboration.