News Feature | March 26, 2014

Israel Welcomes British Minister For Discussions About Stem Cell Research Collaboration

By Liisa Vexler

The UK and Israel join forces during a two-day conference at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa, Israel this week that will focus on continued joint stem-cell therapy research. This conference is part of the second BIRAX Regenerative Medicine event, which is a project initiated by the British Council in Israel and the British Embassy.

The United Kingdom’s minister of state for universities and science, David Willetts, is on the list of conference attendees. This list also includes approximately 300 of Israel’s most prominent research scientists and 80 attendees from Britain who are involved in the research on stem cell therapies to treat chronic and degenerative diseases such as type 1 (juvenile) diabetes, heart disease, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. It will also be attended by 300 leading Israeli scientists and 80 British scientists, whose research is advancing the fight against devastating illnesses, such as type 1 diabetes, heart diseases, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. The conference co-chairs are Chris Mason, University College’s chairman of regenerative medicine bioprocessing at University College, and former chief scientist of Israel, Ehud Gazit.

The UK and Israel have committed £10 million to stem cell research to be invested over the course of five years. To date, BIRAX has provided funding for seven British and Israeli large research projects looking at stem cell therapies for multiple sclerosis, liver disease and Parkinson’s.

Britain’s Minister Willets will officially open the second call for proposals during the conference, with Prime Minister David Cameron having launched the initiative during his recent Israeli visit. This call for proposals will provide funding for innovative research in stem cell therapies for cardiovascular disease, type 1 diabetes, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.

British ambassador to Israel Matthew Gould said, “This conference will bring together British and Israeli scientists working with stem cells. Our goal is that they will form collaborations to develop cures for some of the world’s most common diseases. Israel and Britain are both at the forefront of stem cell research. Building a stronger partnership between the two countries will be to the benefit of both and has the potential to transform lives around the world. The first conference was hugely successful, and led to some amazing joint research. We have high hopes for this one.”

On behalf of the Israeli research community, Technion president Peretz Lavie said his institution is thrilled to play host to the second BIRAX Regenerative Medicine conference.

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