Jewish, Arab Youth in Workshop on Stem Cells at Hebrew University

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Jewish, Arab Youth in Workshop on Stem Cells at Hebrew University

March 19, 2009 – An international workshop on stem cells was conducted this week for Jewish and Arab youths in Jerusalem by the Joseph Meyerhoff Youth Center for Advanced Studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. The youths were from Jerusalem and neighboring Abu Ghosh.

The youths heard lectures from senior researchers in the field and learned of the ethical and religious issues involved in stem cell research. They also engaged in Internet discussions with German students on the topic.

Dr. Devora Lang, director of the Youth Center for Advanced Studies, said that the “uniqueness of the workshop was its providing an opportunity for students of different religions who are living in Israel to participate in joint discussions and to relate to the religious and ethical aspects of stem cell research.”

An interesting angle to the workshop was the involvement of students from Germany, since the use of embryonic stem cell research in that country is severely limited. That country’s past experiences in the misuse of science during the Nazi era make genetic research a particularly sensitive subject there. One German student expressed special caution, in view of German history, in using stem cells for example to improve mentally disabled youths, seeing it as a morally questionable step towards genetic manipulation. .

Prof. Nissim Benvenisty of the Silberman Institute of Life Sciences at the Hebrew University participated in organizing the workshop and spoke to the students on the topic of the biology of stem cells.

The workshop project was the initiative of TELESCOPE, the educational arm of ESTOOLS, which is the largest grouping of human embryonic stem cell researchers in Europe.

For further information: Jerry Barach, Dept. of Media Relations, the Hebrew University,

Tel: 02-588-2904.  Orit Sulitzeanu, Hebrew University spokesperson, Tel: 054-8820016.

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