Cameron announces £3.2 million for UK-Israel research fund

11 February 2015

British and Israeli collaboration has been boosted by funding for eight new bilateral medical research projects in to the use of stem cells to tackle degenerative diseases. 

UK and Israeli research institutions have secured £3.2 million over three years for the development of stem cell therapies to treat diabetes, heart disease, Parkinson’s disease, liver disease, and Multiple Sclerosis. 

These projects are the latest addition 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.

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”

Funding will be awarded to eleven leading universities in the UK 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.

“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." said Professor Raymond Dwek, CBE, FRS, Director, Glycobiology Institute, Oxford University and Chair of the UK-Israel Science Council. "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”.

Photo: attendees include Her Majesty’s Ambassador to Israel - Matthew Gould, British Council CEO - Ciarán Devane, Parkinson’s UK CEO - Steve Ford, MS Society CEO - Michelle Mitchell, BHF CEO -  Simon Gillespie, JDRF UK Director of Research Advocacy - Clare McVicker, Pears Foundation Chair - Trevor Pears, UK Stem Cell Foundation CEO – Lil Shortland, Science Council Members – Prof Raymond Dwek and Prof Chris Mason, British Council Israel Director – Alan Gemmell, Senior members of the FCO, BIRAX Recipients and British Council officials.