Twenty-two research projects led by Israeli and American researchers were awarded $7.3 million in funding by the US-Israel Binational Agricultural Research and Development Fund (BARD), a funding program that supports collaborative agricultural research in areas of mutual interest to the US and Israel, the organization announced this month.
The approved projects are in a wide range of agriculture sub-sectors including agricultural economics, agricultural engineering, animal production, animal health, crop health and production, water and renewable resources, and food production.
The research grants were awarded to 20 US academic institutions in 15 states, and nine academic institutions in Israel in total. In addition, BARD approved 10 postdoctoral fellowships through the BARD-Va’adia fellowship program, four BARD senior research fellowships supporting American scientists who will conduct research in Israel, and two joint US-Israel workshops.
Among the approved projects are a study of antibiotic alternatives in poultry by researchers at Hebrew University and the University of Lousiville in Kentucky, a study of the reproductive system in male flounders and its role in regulating sperm motility and fertility to be conducted by researchers at the Univesity of Texas, Austin and the Ruppin Academic Center, and a study of smart desalination systems for sustainable use by researchers at the University of Ben-Gurion in the Negev, and the University of California, Los Angeles.
BARD says it runs a “rigorous and competitive process” that allows good research projects to reach applications in the field. Half of the grant recipients are early-career scientists who “get an opportunity to work side-by-side with leading, experienced scientists, thus acquiring a crucial body of knowledge and expertise,” according to the organization.
“This year we are facing many challenges as the coronavirus pandemic poses a threat to food security all over the world,” said Yoram Kapulnik, BARD’s executive director, in a statement. The agriculture research and development community “has been influenced by this crisis yet the great minds in research and development will also be the ones to lead us safely towards finding new solutions and coping with the various challenges that have arisen.”
“The wide array of research proposals approved is a testament to the excellent and innovative agriculture research communities both in the US and in Israel,” he added.
Established in 1979, BARD said that it has funded more than 1330 research projects with a total investment of $315 million over the past four decades. The work it has supported has led to approximately 200 new agricultural practices, 40 commercial engagements, and 100 patent-series and breeding rights licenses, and has served “as a growth engine to both the Israeli and US economies and agricultural communities.”
A majority of the researchers who take part in the program continue collaborating with their American or Israeli partners even after their projects are completed, the organization indicated.