This blog post was published under the 2015 to 2024 Conservative government

Daphna Frucht

Guest blogger for Alexandra Abbot

Part of Global Science and Innovation Network

15th January 2019 King Charles Street, London

From the Einstein Archives to the Scientists of the Future – Lord Winston visits Israel

Last month the UK Science & Innovation Network in Israel (SIN) hosted the Lord Professor Robert Winston, a passionate advocate for UK-Israel cooperation in Science. Lord Winston is co-chairing the UK-Israel Science Council – a body of 25 leading scientists from the UK and Israel, who help guide our efforts to use science, research and innovation as tools to build diplomatic relationships and address shared challenges.

UK-Israel bilateral scientific research excellence – BIRAX

BIRAX (The Britain Israel Research and Academic Exchange Partnership) is our flagship vehicle for UK-Israel research collaboration. It is led by the British Council, the British Embassy Israel and the UK Science & Innovation Network in collaboration with funding partners. BIRAX has so far committed almost £8 million to 19 cutting edge projects directly involving over 100 researchers in both countries. Recently, one of our BIRAX recipients, Haifa Technion Professor Hossam Haick, won an EU Innovation Award for his revolutionary invention: making the future of medicine less painful.

We have recently launched the next phase of BIRAX, BIRAX Ageing. During his visit, Lord Winston welcomed the Scientific Committee at the first academic selection panel meeting of the BIRAX Ageing Call for Proposals. He repeatedly stressed the value of BIRAX and the need to support the core research projects as well as conferences.

Lord Winston at the 8th Annual UK-Israel Science Council Meeting in London, September 2018

Palestinian PhD students studying in Israeli Universities – made possible by the UK Government

SIN’s cross-border programme GROWTH (Graduate Research Opportunities in Water Technologies and Health) which is supported by the British Council, is a fellowship programme for Palestinian students to conduct their PhD studies at Israeli universities, researching life sciences. The programme was established to promote scientific links between Israeli, British and Palestinian researchers and to contribute to the development of science and research in those three countries.

Lord Winston met an inspiring group of committed and enthusiastic Palestinian PhD students who are working tremendously hard. They told us about their research, their challenges crossing the border and leaving their small children at home, and their impressions working at an Israeli lab. Many of the PhD students told us that before engaging in the programme, they had bias or prejudice about the others or couldn’t imagine working together and that this engagement had helped them overcome this. They are so aware of their identity – it cannot be easy wearing a hijab in the environment in which they have to travel and work.

Seeing this group of PhD students coming together with the renowned scientist Lord Winston and listening to their experiences, I could directly see the benefit of our programme. Lord Winston lit up while talking to them about their research and was completely bowled over by the Palestinian students whose courage, independence, feminism, determination and, of course, intelligence was so impressive. He was really moved by the discussion and adamant that we must find ways to continue the programme and said: “if a programme like this cannot succeed, what hope is there for the next generation and the future?” I wish the students every success in bringing their research to fruition.

Lord Winston at the GROWTH Breakfast with PhD Fellows in Jerusalem, December 2018

Lord Winston relates to Einstein

Lord Winston was honoured with a private tour of the Einstein Archives given by head Professor Chanoch. He saw Einstein’s Nobel Prize and manuscript of his General Theory of Relativity with its genuine hand corrections. The tour finished with the children’s letters that Einstein obviously valued dearly as they were preserved so carefully – Lord Winston joked that he could relate to the criticism to cut his hair.

Lord Winston at the Albert Einstein Archives in Jerusalem, December 2018

Multitasking as Children’s Science Book Author

The British Embassy had the pleasure of hosting an interactive event for the scientists of tomorrow full of science with Lord Robert Winston. It was a really nice opportunity to showcase the UK’s excellence in science through one of the world’s most renowned scientists, and to contribute to making science more accessible to young people. Inspired by Prof Winston’s books, people enjoyed a variety of experiments and tasted some delicious science inspired food. It was fun, educational and especially sweet.

Lord Winston with the SIN Israel Team at the Residence, December 2018

Inspired by the impressions of this very special visit, SIN Israel will continue to look for ways to support and contribute science and innovation in the MENA region, using the best of UK expertise.

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