BioXplore was a three-year collaborative study of Israel’s medicinal plants, led by Hadassah Academic College in Jerusalem. The project, which was finalized in 2014, brought together Israeli, Palestinian, Spanish, and Greek researchers. The results of their work? They found that plants from different regions—from Jerusalem to Mount Hermon, the Hula Valley, and the Dead Sea as well as Nablus in the Palestinian Authority—have the potential to aid in the treatment of diabetes, infections, and viruses. The project was a resounding success on several levels. Hadassah’s president, Bertold Fridlender, who headed the study, observes:
The study of plants for medicinal purposes was the prime goal, but the cooperation with the researchers from the Palestinian Authority and from the rest of the nations was no less important. The mutual understanding, joint endeavor, and the yearning to deliver results, which was important to both nations, helped bring the final result.
Professor Fridlender, who holds a Ph.D. in medical microbiology from UCLA and worked in botanical research at Rutgers, says the potential of this field is immense. Although particular plants have been known through the ages to be valuable for specific uses, his team’s aim is to measure its effects, to give “a scientific base to that information. . . . If a certain plant is a good anti-inflammatory, we will try to show why and at what dose.”
Perhaps just as importantly, Fridlender has also remarked upon “how much the project connected the participants from all corners of academic research.” With a single vision, such connections can be made.