The France-Israel Foundation, established to deepen ties between the two countries, will present awards for excellence in science to two Technion researchers and for excellence in literature to Eshkol Nevo at two ceremonies to take place in Paris this month.

(Communicated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

The France-Israel Foundation has decided to award this year’s prize for literature to Israeli writer Eshkol Nevo and the prize for excellence in science to two Israeli researchers, Dr. Shulamit Levenberg and Dr. Hossam Haick of the Technion.

Nevo was chosen by the Foundation for his first novel, Homesick, which was published in France in January 2008 by Gallimard. The award will be presented by Christine Albanel, the French Minister of Culture and Communication, at a special event that will take place on 14 March 2008 at the Ministry of Culture. Israeli writers who will be in Paris to attend the Paris Book Fair, Salon du Livre, where Israel is to be this year’s guest of honor, are also invited. The prize, named after Raymond Wallier, who contributed greatly to Israeli-French relations, will be awarded every two years, in Israel and in France alternately, to authors in recognition of the quality of their writing and of their contribution to mutual understanding of the two respective cultures.

The France-Israel Foundation will bestow the awards for excellence in science in 2008 on two Israeli researchers and two French researchers who are engaged in cancer and stem cell research. The Israeli recipients are Dr. Shulamit Levenberg of the Biomedical Engineering Department of the Technion, who is doing research on stem cell tissue engineering, and Dr. Hossam Haick, Senior Lecturer in the Wolfson Department of Chemical Engineering at the Technion. The prizes will be awarded at a special ceremony in Paris on 12 March 2008.

Dr. Levenberg was chosen in 2006 as one of 50 leading world scientists by the prestigious science journal Scientific American for her work in the field of tissue engineering. Her study proved that it is possible to create complex muscle tissue including blood vessels (as well as beating heart muscle) in a laboratory.

Dr. Hossam Haick and his team of researchers at the Technion are working on using artificial olfactory systems, dubbed "electronic noses", to screen cancer and other diseases using breath samples.  The device may in the future enable the diagnosis and treatment of cancer at a very early stage, before the tumor has started to spread. This could increase the survival rate from 15% to more than 85%.

The French prize recipients are Dr. Christian Muchardt, research director of the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS), for his studies of DNA, and Dr. Michel Pucéat, research director at the French National Institute for Health and Medical Research (Inserm), for his research on cardiac applications of embryonic stem cells.

The France-Israel Foundation was established in 2005 at the initiative of former French President Jacques Chirac and then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. The purpose of the foundation is to deepen relations and cooperation between Israel and France.