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British minister visits Israel to strengthen cooperation in stem cell research
By JUDY SIEGEL-ITZKOVICH
03/24/2014
The two countries will be investing £10 million into the research over the next five years.
 
A major two-day UK and Israel conference is set to open on Tuesday at the Technion- Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa.

The event, part of the second BIRAX Regenerative Medicine conference will focus on furthering joint research on stem cell therapies – BIRAX is an initiative of the British Embassy and British Council in Israel.

David Willetts, UK’s minister of state for universities and science, is scheduled to attend the conference. It will also be attended by 300 leading Israeli scientists, and 80 British scientists, whose research is advancing the fight against devastating illnesses, such as type 1 diabetes, heart diseases, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, using stem cell therapies.

The two countries will be investing £10 million into the research over the next five years.

The conference will be chaired by Prof. Chris Mason, chairman of regenerative medicine bioprocessing from University College London, and Prof. Ehud Gazit, Israel’s former chief scientist.

Willetts will officially open the second call for proposals at the conference, which British Prime Minister David Cameron launched during his recent visit to Israel.

BIRAX has funded seven large-scale joint research projects between Britain and Israel in the fields of multiple sclerosis, liver disease and Parkinson’s.

The second call for proposals will fund cutting edge research into stem cell therapies and type 1 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.

Following his arrival in Israel, Willets said that “diseases covered by BIRAX research require urgent action to help advance us towards cures. By bringing together the best scientists our countries have to offer and funding innovative research between them, we can help progress international understanding of these illnesses. The second call for proposals is a strong step in that direction.”

UK Ambassador Matthew Gould said: “This conference will bring together British and Israeli scientists working with stem cells. Our goal is that they will form collaborations to develop cures for some of the world’s most common diseases. Israel and Britain are both at the forefront of stem cell research. Building a stronger partnership between the two countries will be to the benefit of both and has the potential to transform lives around the world.

“The first conference was hugely successful, and led to some amazing joint research. We have high hopes for this one.”

Prof. Peretz Lavie, Technion president, said his institution was delighted to host the second BIRAX Regenerative Medicine conference.

“Technion researchers played a major role in the discovery of stem cells and are conducting exciting research in their clinical applications,” he said.
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