Britain unveils £5m. fund for joint UK-Israel research into aging diseases

The program was launched at a reception in London to mark UK-Israel Science Day.

March 8, 2018 15:30
2 minute read.
Elderly couple

Elderly couple (illustrative). (photo credit: INGIMAGE)


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Britain has launched a £5 million fund for joint UK-Israel research into diseases of aging. The scientific collaboration, announced by British Science Minister Sam Gyimah on Wednesday night, is expected to produce technological developments to address the global challenge of lengthened life expectancy.

Called BIRAX Aging, the £5m. fund is aimed at advancing scientific collaboration between Israel and the UK and cutting-edge research into the aging process and its effect on human health, including age-related diseases such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, heart disease, diabetes and multiple sclerosis, which afflict millions of people worldwide.

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The fund marks the continuation of the BIRAX (Britain-Israel Research and Academic Exchange) Partnership, which within six years has grown into one of the most innovative bilateral science collaborations between two countries anywhere in the world, the minister said. The announcement was made jointly from London and Tel Aviv.

The program creates a community of British and Israeli researchers and academics, fosters ties between universities, supports critical scientific research into urgent global healthcare issues, and was launched at a reception in London to mark UK-Israel Science Day.

To meet the challenges and opportunities presented by the aging population globally, the UK government is harnessing the power of innovation and bringing together industry and academia to create an economy that works for everyone, Gyimah said.

In the UK, 18% of the population is over 65 years of age. Israel’s over-65 population is expected to reach 14.3% by 2040, and elderly populations worldwide are set to double in the next 30 years.

BIRAX Aging will officially open its first call for research proposals in April. Organizers are looking for research into the impact of aging on human health and using precision medicine and large amounts of data to identify innovative biomarkers, algorithms and computational techniques to help prevent the harmful effects associated with aging.

“We are living longer than ever before,” Gyimah continued. “In fact, the UK government’s industrial strategy highlights that one in three children born in the UK today can expect to live to 100.... Through BIRAX Aging, UK-Israel collaboration, and our aging society Grand Challenge, we will improve millions of people’s lives globally.”

British Ambassador David Qaurrey added: “BIRAX is a partnership that celebrates scientific excellence, promotes collaboration and ultimately brings people and countries closer together. We look forward to the next phase for BIRAX with its new focus on aging, and to what it can achieve to help us address one of the biggest challenges facing societies in the future.”

Sir Trevor Pears, executive chairman of the Pears Foundation, said: “Our foundation is proud to have been a founding supporter of the BIRAX initiative. We are excited to see the positive developments that will come out of BIRAX Aging, which will bring together world-class scientists to help make life better for people across the world and strengthen academic relationships between Israel and the UK.”

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