A "virtual laboratory" for collaborative research in neuroscience will be established by France and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem following an agreement signed Wednesday in the capital. The agreement upgrades collaboration between HU and Europe's largest scientific research center, the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS). It establishes the European Associated Laboratory (LEA), to be called the France-Israel Laboratory of Neuroscience. The agreement was signed at a ceremony on the Givat Ram campus attended by HU president Prof. Menachem Magidor, HU vice president for research and development Prof. Hillel Bercovier, CNRS president Prof. Catherine Brechignac and Prof. Alain Blanchard, vice president of Victor Segalen University in Bordeaux. Faculty members at Descartes University in Paris and Victor Segalen University will participate in the project. Brechignac said the new agreement would strengthen cooperative research between French and Israeli scientists. The level of Israeli science is "very good," she said. Asked by The Jerusalem Post for her reaction to proposed academic boycotts of Israeli scientists by British and French academics, Brechignac said she opposed them. "I believe in dialogue and explaining and not in boycotting," she said. "In science it is important to transcend all political differences; knowledge is universal." Five years ago, HU was the first Israeli institution to sign an academic cooperative agreement with the CNRS, Bercovier said. It was known as the France-Israel International Associated Laboratory Agreement and established the Franco-Israeli Laboratory of System Neurophysiology and Neurophysics. That effort led to several joint research projects, joint scientific publications and the first-ever French-Israeli binational neuroscience symposium, first held in Israel in 2004 and now taking place biannually. French scientists value Israeli ingenuity and originality, while Israelis admire the French for their scientific infrastructure, Bercovier told the Post. Later in the day, a France-Israel Symposium in Neuroscience was held at the Konrad Adenauer Center in Jerusalem's Mishkenot Sha'ananim, where presentations were made on a range of recent joint French-Israeli studies as well as topics of research and collaboration planned for coming years. The event was sponsored by the France-Israel Laboratory of Neuroscience and the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs.