Hebrew University collabarating with Australia

May 11, 2022 by J-Wire Newsdesk
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The Zelman Cowen Academic Initiatives has launched a call for applications for scientific projects (including medical science), with a preference for projects that involved Hebrew University of Jerusalem Israel-Australian collaboration.

Michael Dunkel

From an unexpectedly large number of applications, eight projects have been selected for funding up to AUD$150,000 each per annum over 2 years beginning in the middle of this year.

The Vice-President for International Affairs of the Hebrew University, Professor Oron Shagrir, welcomed the initiative: “We were taken by surprise, not by the quality of the applications for we know the quality of research here in Jerusalem, but by the breadth and diversity of the projects. It is a strong re-start to the long history of HUJI-Australian collaboration in science”.

Michael Dunkel, a trustee of the Sir Zelman Cowen Universities Fund and a director of Education Heritage Foundation, has played a leading role in this support of research and scholarship since the beginning of the SZCUF in 1978.

He said: “Israel and Australia are as far apart as nations can be, but we share challenges in medicine and agriculture and, in these projects, the safeguarding of coral reefs and the sustainable harvesting from the oceans. Several of the projects are at the forefront of medical science, dealing with human health, which is a concern in every country. The ZCAI Directors welcome this strong return of long-distance but common-problem collaborations”.

Professor Jonathan Stone, also a Director of the ZCAI noted that “There were 69 applications in total, all for joint Australian-Israeli projects in science. This indicates a huge potential for scientific  cooperation, despite the distance between the two nations”.

“We thought we might get half a dozen strong applications,” said Professor Stone “We were a bit overwhelmed, but impressed, by the number and quality of what came in”.

“Perhaps” he noted “we should not have been surprised. Both Australia and Israel have coral coasts, and two projects were in marine biology in the face of climate change – understanding coral adaptation and the function of the ocean’s role in absorbing greenhouse gases. Both nations have strong agricultural sectors, and two projects were in the sustainable management of crop pests, the fruit fly and the white fly, which spoils cassava crops. And four were in the field of medicine – human health is an issue in every country”.

The medical projects were also diverse – the fundamentals of foetal development, the challenge of oropharyngeal cancer, new detectors for the next generation of X-ray-based diagnostic imagers, and new ways of understanding and tracking pandemics, to strengthen management.

Zelman Cowen Academic Initiatives has been operating for only 12 months, Mr Dunkel noted. “The success of this initiative – of joint science projects – has been a great start to our work”.

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