Azrieli Foundation gives HU $10 million for stem-cell research on genetic diseases

One of Canada’s largest foundations donated the funds to the Jerusalem center to study and develop cures for a wide variety of genetic disorders.

June 3, 2015 17:08
1 minute read.
Prostate cancer cells

Cancer cells. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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Eleven months after the death of Canadian-Israeli shopping-center magnate David Azrieli, his foundation has donated $10 million to fund innovative research at the Hebrew University’s newly inaugurated Azrieli Center for Stem Cells and Genetic Research.

The contribution will go toward expanding and redeveloping the physical space of the newly named center, as well as providing it with ongoing operational support, including Israeli doctoral students and young research faculty, as well as Canadian post-doctoral students.

The Jerusalem center, to be headed by Dr. Nissim Benvenisty, one of the world’s leading stem-cell pioneers who works in collaboration with laboratories in Boston, New York and Los Angeles, will study and develop cures for a wide variety of genetic disorders and accommodate one of the largest repositories of stem cells carrying genetic diseases and chromosomal disorders in the world.

Focusing on modeling human diseases without the use of animals, the center will study Down syndrome, Prader-Willi syndrome and hereditary diabetes and put a special focus on Fragile X syndrome – a genetic condition that causes intellectual disability and behavioral challenges, which is linked to autism in boys. Researchers will focus on developing novel therapies to treat these diseases.

“This donation will take stem-cell research to the next level on a global scale,” said Dr. Naomi Azrieli, Chairman and CEO of the Azrieli Foundation.

“Scientists at the center will be able to expand their work and impact in material and meaningful ways, studying multiple disorders and paving the way for therapies that may offer hope to people and families all over the world.”

Rami Kleinmann, president and CEO of Canadian Friends of the Hebrew University, invited “leading Canadian scientists to partner with the university and join this international hub for stem cell research.”

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