New Year's Honour for Professor Raymond Dwek
Professor Raymond Dwek, head of the Glycobiology Institute at the Biochemistry Department, has been awarded a Commander of the British Empire (CBE ) in the Diplomatic Services and Overseas New Year 2013 Honours list for services to UK-Israel scientific collaboration.
Professor Raymond Dwek
The award is one of 99 given by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in recognition of Britons doing exceptional work for the UK internationally in a diverse range of fields. It recognises Professor Dwek’s commitment for over a decade to building bridges in the fields of science and technology that benefit both the UK and Israel.
The programmes he has helped establish cover many areas of science including water development, genetics and nanotechnology, and have served not only to support research but also to promote peace in the region.
Ben Gurion University, located in the arid Negev desert in the south of the country, is the focal point for many of the programmes. Professor Dwek played a large part in helping to establish the University’s flagship National Institute for Biotechnology in the Negev, the first independent research body to be established in Israel, and he chairs its scientific advisory board.
‘The aim has been to populate the desert with science and technology,’ explains Professor Dwek. ‘We established the National Institute for Biotechnology as a catalyst for development in the region, identifying scientific areas that are of relevance.’
Scientific themes at the National Institute for Biotechnology include the genetics of the Bedouin people which will provide healthcare benefits to this community.
A separate programme on desert research, which has received support from Oxford University, aims to improve water resources – a pressing need both in the region and globally. Professor Dwek believes that water technology is also very important as a bridge for peace and adds that dialogue is vital amid calls for an academic boycott of Israel.
Professor Dwek has worked to establish programmes that will benefit UK scientists as well. The UK Israel Life Sciences Council, a group of leading scientists from both countries which is co-chaired by Professor Dwek, launched a programme in 2010 focusing on regenerative medicine. Building on the unique strengths of both the UK and Israel in this area, the programme recently announced support of six major UK-Israel collaborations.
The CBE came as a surprise to Professor Dwek who said that it was a great honour to be recognised in this way. He acknowledged the leadership of the current Ambassador to Israel, Matthew Gould, who has helped to build relationships between Britain and Israel in all areas, especially science.