Another feather in Carmi’s cap

British queen awards Ben-Gurion University president.

Rivka Carmi (photo credit: BEN GURION UNIVERSITY OF THE NEGEV)
Rivka Carmi
Ben-Gurion University president Prof.Rivka Carmi – the first woman to head an Israeli university and previously to serve as dean of a medical school here – has another honor to celebrate.
Buckingham Palace announced Monday that the leading pediatrician and geneticist is to receive a rare honor from Queen Elizabeth – an honorary Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) – for her work to deepen scientific and academic relations between the UK and Israel.
She also has been chosen as one of The Jerusalem Post’s Top 50 most influential Jews in the world, who will be highlighted in a special supplement on Friday before Shavuot.
In its announcement, Buckingham Palace cited Carmi’s vital role in strengthening scientific collaboration between the UK and Israel as the founding co-chair of the UK Israel Science Council since its inception in 2010.
“Under her leadership, the Science Council promotes joint academic work, such as cutting-edge stem cell research to tackle some of the world’s most dreadful diseases,” it said.
The BGU president said she was “thrilled” to accept the honor, which recognizes the increasing links between the UK and Israel, especially in science.
“The UK-Israel Science council, set up at the behest of Ambassador Matthew Gould, has been a flagship initiative, demonstrating the great potential for collaboration between our two countries. We are committed to improving the health of all nations and sharing our scientific discoveries,” she said.
Always interested in genetic mutations, especially those caused by inbreeding in the Arab community, Carmi identified not one, but two genetic disorders – though only one could be called Carmi syndrome.
The first and still-fatal condition is confined mostly to one Beduin tribe.
She tried hard for two decades to find some treatment, but the first disease is still incurable. Called aplasia cutis, epidermolysis bullosa with pyloric atresia, it usually kills babies within days.
The second syndrome Carmi identified was thoracoabdominal syndrome (TAS) in a Jewish family of Libyan origin. This disorder originally was fatal in boys, but today is treatable.