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The Azrieli National Centre for Autism and Neurodevelopment Research

 
THE AZRIELI FOUNDATION ANNOUNCES CAD$15.6 DONATION FOR NATIONAL AUTISM RESEARCH AT BEN-GURION UNIVERSITY OF THE NEGEV AND SOROKA UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CENTRE

Introducing the Azrieli National Centre for Autism and Neurodevelopment Research

press release, Nov 6, 2021

 

 

BEER-SHEVA, Israel and TORONTO, Canada, November 1, 2021 – The Azrieli Foundation recently announced a donation in the amount of CAD$15.6 million to the National Autism Research Centre of Israel (NARCI), a unique collaboration between scientists from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) and clinicians from Soroka University Medical Center (SUMC), both in the desert city of Beer-Sheva, Israel. The centre, originally established by the Ministry of Science and Technology, is dedicated to translational research that will revolutionize diagnosis techniques and interventions for autism and other neurodevelopmental conditions. In honour of this generous and transformational donation, the centre has proudly been renamed The Azrieli National Centre for Autism and Neurodevelopment Research.

 

Ben-Gurion University President Prof. Daniel Chamovitz, "The Azrieli National Centre for Autism and Neurodevelopment Research is a quintessential BGU project. Innovative, cutting-edge and super-disciplinary, designed to make world-class discoveries while providing critical support and hope to families. The Azrieli Foundation has been our partner for a number of years and on a number of innovative initiatives. We are grateful that they recognize our unique vision."

 

Naomi Azrieli, Chair and CEO of the Azrieli Foundation, explains why the Foundation invested in the center. “Neurodevelopmental research and supporting people with neurodevelopmental disabilities is one of our core priorities. We help people maximize their potential by connecting them to resources, expertise and education, and the Azrieli National Centre for Autism and Neurodevelopment Research will do exactly that – by building and nurturing networks which enable research and innovative technology.” 

 

Danna Azrieli, Chair of The Azrieli Group and the Azrieli Foundation Israel:" We are delighted to join forces with Ben-Gurion University, a top-rated global institution, which has developed groundbreaking research studies and innovative technology. Ben-Gurion University and the City of Beer-Sheva are especially close to our heart, as it is our goal to further help develop the Negev and create more opportunities in the area. It is our biggest wish to see the Negev flourish by developing its educational systems, academic facilities and its health services, all in the hope of creating an inclusive and equal society in Israel." 

 

 

Prof. Ilan Dinstein, Director of The Azrieli National Centre for Autism and Neurodevelopment Research and a member of both the Departments of Psychology and Cognitive & Brain Sciences, explains how the donation from the Azrieli Foundation will help to advance the invaluable work currently performed at the centre. “Our research has demonstrated that autism is actually a family of multiple disorders, with a variety of symptoms that are caused by different reasons. The big challenge is to determine how many types of autism there are, how to best identify them early, and most importantly, what interventions work best for each type. To determine this, scientists have to partner with clinicians and study large numbers of children with autism over extended periods of time.”

 

The six-year plan will vastly expand the centre and its reach.

 

A dedicated facility inside SUMC will be constructed that will double the space for working with ASD children and performing cutting-edge research. It will house state-of-the-art genetics/bioinformatics, biomarker-detection, and neuroimaging labs, which will process collected samples/data and provide services to autism researchers throughout the country.

 

Dr. Gal Meiri, Director of The Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Department at SUMC and Medical Director of the centre, described the great excitement regarding the development of the centre. “We truly believe that combining clinical and scientific excellence will lead to critical breakthroughs in the way we currently diagnose and treat children with autism.”

 

Existing data collection will be expanded to many autism clinics throughout Israel, where multiple types of clinical and behavioral data, biological samples (e.g., DNA and blood samples), and neuroimaging data will be collected. This data collection will enable the rapid expansion of the National Autism Database, which will triple in size within five years. New faculty members, post-docs, and graduate students, as well as scientific, clinical, technical, and administrative support staff will be recruited to manage this extensive data collection and sharing effort.

  

“We are extremely fortunate and grateful to be on the receiving end of such a generous donation from a world-renowned organization like The Azrieli Foundation,” says Mark Mendelson, CEO of Canadian Associates of Ben-Gurion University. “This donation will enable world class researchers at BGU to further explore the intricacies of autism, allowing them to create and innovate new interventions, medications and solutions for people living with this disorder.”

 

 

About the Azrieli Foundation

With a firm belief that everyone, from our most vulnerable to our most exceptional, has a contribution to make, the Azrieli Foundation has been opening doors, breaking ground and nurturing networks for over 30 years. As the largest non-corporate foundation in Canada, we fund institutions and operate programs in Canada and Israel. 

 

About Ben-Gurion University of the Negev

Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) is the fastest growing research university in Israel. With 20,000 students, 6,000 staff and faculty members, and three campuses in Beer-Sheva, Sde Boker and Eilat, BGU is an agent of change, fulfilling the vision of David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s legendary first prime minister, who envisaged the future of Israel emerging from the Negev. 

 

About Canadian Associates of Ben-Gurion University:

Canadian Associates of Ben-Gurion University (CABGU) is the Canadian fundraising arm of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. As part of its mandate, CABGU showcases BGU’s academic excellence and cutting-edge research from the desert for the world.

 

 
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