During a recent visit to Israel, British Prime Minister David Cameron, accompanied by Israel’s President, Shimon Peres, viewed an exhibition showcasing collaborative stem-cell research between the UK and the Hadassah Medical Center.

Among the researchers who briefed the two leaders about her work was Dr. Sharona Even-Ram of Hadassah’s Goldyne Savad Institute of Gene Therapy, who discussed the use of regenerative cell therapy for Parkinson’s disease. In this particular joint project, embryonic stem cells are developed into nerve cells, which degenerate in Parkinson’s. Dr. Even-Ram is working on the project with Prof. Kevin Shakesheff of the University of Nottingham.

Scientists from the two countries have been working together for the past two years on stem cell projects under a program directed by BIRAX, the British Israel Research and Academic Exchange Partnership Regenerative Medicine InitiativeBIRAX  is a £10-million initiative of the British Embassy in Israel and the British Council, in collaboration with the Pears Foundation and the United Jewish Israel Appeal. It supports research that employs stem cell therapies to treat diseases such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and diabetes. According to the British Council, over four million pounds has been committed to seven projects, “bringing together scientists in Britain and Israel to tackle some of the world’s most challenging health problems.”

Prime Minister Cameron recently launched a call for new UK-Israel collaborative research into Alzheimer’s, type 1 diabetes, heart disease, and Parkinson’s.  Proposals are due in May. Read more about the Prime Minister’s visit to Israel at http://www.timesofisrael.com/joint-israel-uk-stem-cell-research-wows-peres-cameron