British Council allocates 1.5m pound fund to joint Israeli stem cell research

Diabetes, Alzheimer’s, heart disease, leukemia and anemia will be the targets of the research.

December 13, 2017 16:48
2 minute read.
Doctor holding syringe

Close up of female doctor holding syringe with injection (iilustrative). (photo credit: ING IMAGE/ASAP)


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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 British Council announced on Wednesday.

The projects, which will develop stem cell therapies to treat diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, leukemia and anemia, 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.

The projects aim at regenerating new blood vessels to restore healthy tissue; investigating how aging affects the blood and immune system; developing a new window into understanding, diagnosing and treating type 1 diabetes; and combating Alzheimer’s.

This round of funded projects, selected under the BIRAX third call for proposals, brings together scientists from the University of Edinburgh, the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, the Technion-Israel Institute for Technology, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Exeter University, University of Cambridge and the University of Glasgow.

BIRAX was initiated in 2011 by the British Council, the British Embassy in Israel and the UK Science & Innovation Network in collaboration with founding partners Pears Foundation and the United Jewish Israel Appeal.

Through the initiative they teamed up with philanthropic foundations and leading UK medical research charities including the British Heart Foundation, JDRF and the Alzheimer’s Society.

The program is also supported by Weizmann UK, Clore Foundation, the Wolfson Foundation and Pears Foundation, among others.
British Ambassador to Israel David Quarrey said: “I am excited that four new projects have been selected for our flagship science research program, 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.”

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