Monday 11 April 2016


Over 350 leading Israeli and British medical researchers are meeting at the University of Oxford this week, in the largest such bilateral gathering of recent years. 

The 3rd BIRAX Conference is attended by more than 250 British researchers from 35 institutions across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, as well as nearly 100 researchers from Israel’s research universities.

BIRAX, a joint UK-Israel research initiative tackling some of the world's most debilitating diseases, has invested over £7 million in bilateral research since it was founded in 2011. The 15 joint research projects funded by BIRAX so far include the use of heart cells to restore damaged heart muscle; and the use of breath tests for the diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease. BIRAX is initiated by the British Council and the British Embassy in Israel, the Pears Foundation and UJIA.  

The 3rd BIRAX Conference will showcase the latest developments in regenerative medicine, including joint research by UK and Israeli researchers to fight diabetes, Alzheimer's disease, heart conditions, and other global health challenges. The conference is also aimed at creating more opportunities for scientists from both countries to collaborate.

Simultaneously, the UK Israel Science Council will meet at the conference to agree new bilateral scientific priorities for focus until 2020. The Council will also review a year of unprecedented successes that include the launch of a suite of bilateral research programmes; as well as over 20 scientific visits with hundreds of scientists going back and forth. This is the 6th annual meeting of the Council.

Sir Ciaran Devane, Chief Executive of the British Council remarked “The British Council was founded to create a friendly knowledge and understanding between the people of the UK and the wider world and for the UK and Israel there is no better example of this than in science, where leading thinkers are devising innovative ways to solve some of the fundamental problems confronting the world. The British Council is proud to support the delivery of BIRAX and help it achieve such noble ambitions.”

Prof. Ada Yonath, a 2009 laureate of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, who was a founding member of the UK Israel Science Council, said: "There is no substitute for international collaboration between scientists, and UK-Israeli partnerships are no exception. As a founding member of the UK Israel Science Council, I see scientists from both countries meet, discover and grow through partnerships like BIRAX that advances medical research. The results benefit not only both countries, but the entire world."   

Prof. Raymond Dwek of Oxford University and co-Chair of the UK Israel Science Council, added: "The scientific partnership between the UK and Israel continues to flourish and in so doing, to benefit not only British and Israeli scientists but the global research community. Through existing, new, and upgraded programmes, hundreds of UK and Israeli researchers are working together on some of this generation’s greatest challenges; from access to clean water to some of the toughest diseases to cure. The UK Israel Science Council, together with our partners in the UK Government, the British Council and the Israeli National Academy for Science and Humanities, are working to expand joint research in innovative fields such as nanoscience, neuroscience and water sciences."

Other events will also take place in Oxford parallel to the conference: a meeting of the BIRAX Funders and Partners, bringing together UK, Israeli and U.S medical research foundations and other supporters of the programme; a Student and Young Researchers Symposium; structured networking sessions and an event in London by the Jewish Medical Association.  

Notes to Editor

BIRAX (the Britain Israel Research and Academic Exchange Partnership) is a £10 million initiative that funds cutting-edge research using stem cell and regenerative medicine therapies. It tackles some of the world’s most challenging conditions and diseases, including cardiovascular and liver disease, diabetes and Parkinson’s. Over £7 million has been committed to 15 world-class projects including eight joint medical research projects announced in February 2015.

The UK Science and Innovation Network (SIN) is jointly owned by the UK's Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. SIN consists of 90 staff, based in 28 countries (including Israel) and 47 cities around the world. SIN officers work with the local science and innovation community in support of UK policy overseas. They create important relationships to best use the value of science and innovation discoveries and investments overseas. This leads to mutual benefits to the UK and the host-country.

The UK Israel Science CouncilIs a body of up to 30 leading scientists from the UK and Israel whose core mandate is to improve science collaboration between the two countries. The group was launched by former UK Foreign Secretary William Hague in November 2010. The group includes Nobel Prize winners, members of the House of Lords, and University Presidents. The Science and Innovation Network at the British Embassy in Israel acts as the Secretariat to the Council.


About the British Council

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