The Azrieli Foundation, one of Canada’s largest foundations, has donated $10 million to fund innovative research at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s newly inaugurated Azrieli Center for Stem Cells and Genetic Research. The funds will also support Israeli doctoral students and young research faculty, and Canadian post-doctoral students.

Led by Dr. Nissim Benvenisty, one of the world’s leading stem cell pioneers, working in collaboration with laboratories in Boston, New York and Los Angeles, the new center will be home to one of the largest repositories of stem cells carrying genetic diseases and chromosomal disorders in the world.

This uniquely positions the Azrieli Center to study and develop cures for a wide variety of genetic disorders.
Focusing on modeling human diseases without the use of animals, the center will study Down syndrome, Prader-Willi syndrome, hereditary diabetes, and will pay special attention to Fragile X syndrome, a genetic condition that causes intellectual disability and behavioral challenges and is linked to autism in boys. Researchers will focus on developing novel therapies to treat these diseases.

“This donation will take stem cell research to the next level on a global scale. Scientists at the Azrieli Center will be able to expand their work and impact in material and meaningful ways, studying multiple disorders and paving the way for therapies that may offer hope to people and families all over the world.” said Dr. Naomi Azrieli, Chair & CEO of the Azrieli Foundation.

“The Hebrew University has a tradition of innovation and world class science and we are proud to be at the forefront of research on genetic disorders. Canadian Friends of the Hebrew University have been catalysts in identifying ideal research partners in Canada to collaborate with centers of this caliber. We invite leading Canadian scientists to partner with the university and join this international hub for stem cell research,” said Rami Kleinmann, President & CEO, Canadian Friends of the Hebrew University.

The Azrieli Foundation selected the Hebrew University of Jerusalem following an extensive process to identify the world’s leading researchers and labs studying Fragile X syndrome.

The donation will go towards expanding and redeveloping the physical space of the newly-named center as well as providing it with ongoing operational support. The facility will house the world-class stem cell repository for the purpose of researching and treating genetic disorders, along with imaging equipment and dedicated equipment for cell storage.

The Azrieli Foundation supports groundbreaking scientific and medical research in both Canada and Israel, with a focus on neurodevelopment, with Fragile X syndrome being of particular interest.

The Hebrew University is Israel’s leading academic and research institution, producing one-third of all civilian research in Israel.