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£3.2m awarded to joint UK-Israeli stem cell research

Eight new joint UK-Israeli medical research projects on the use of stem cells to tackle degenerative diseases have been awarded £3.2 million by the British Council.

UK and Israeli research institutions will work together on three-year bilateral projects that will develop stem cell therapies to treat diabetes, heart disease, Parkinson’s disease, liver disease, and Multiple Sclerosis.

The projects are the latest additions to the British Council’s Britain Israel Research and Academic Exchange programme (BIRAX), a £10 million initiative of the British Council investing in world-leading research jointly undertaken by scientists in Britain and Israel.

Funding will be awarded to eleven leading universities in Britain and Israel: Cambridge, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Manchester, Nottingham and Oxford, and Hadassah – Hebrew University, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, MIGAL – Galilee Research Institute, Technion-Israel Institute of Technology and the Weizmann Institute.

Alan Gemmell, Director of the British Council in Israel said: “BIRAX combines the best of what Britain and Israel can offer the world; world-class scientists working together to improve the lives of millions of people. When the UK’s education and research sectors engage with Israel, the benefits go beyond our two countries and can be truly universal”

Professor Raymond Dwek, CBE, FRS, Director, Glycobiology Institute, Oxford University and Chair of the UK-Israel Science Council said “Every now and then a technology breakthrough in science holds promise for dramatic progress in disease therapy and cures. The BIRAX initiative which is supported by leading scientists in the UK has focussed on stem cell therapies with this goal and acknowledges that the UK science base is complemented by the outstanding work in this area in Israel. This combination offers real hope of substantial progress in may disease areas.

“The quality of the scientists involved and the different areas of medicine which could benefit as a result of their research will be for the benefit everyone – something that a global university like Oxford supports strongly” Prof Dwek added.

Matthew Gould CMG, British Ambassador to Israel said: “Science is right at the heart of UK-Israel relationship. Top British and Israeli scientists are already collaborating to develop cures to some of the most awful diseases. I am delighted that so many medical research powerhouses have now given their support to this collaboration. The new projects we are announcing today have the potential make a real difference to the lives of people who suffer from diabetes, heart disease, liver disease, multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease.”