Ambitious Diabetes Project to be Centered in Galil

Bar-Ilan University’s Faculty of Medicine, Ramat Gan, Israel. (Bar-Ilan University)

Israel saw on Thursday the launching of an ambitious project to combat the scourge of diabetes.

The Azrieli Faculty of Medicine of Bar-Ilan University and The Russell Berrie Foundation announced the creation of The Russell Berrie Galil Diabetes SPHERE, a comprehensive program designed to transform diabetes care in Israel’s socioeconomically disadvantaged northern Galil region — while simultaneously spurring innovations in diabetes treatment and prevention that can be applied around the world.

SPHERE stands for the Social Precision-medicine Health Equity Research Endeavour.

“This is the largest project of its kind in our nation’s history. I believe that it will serve as a stepping stone to forthcoming national and worldwide comprehensive programs, using cutting-edge scientific models for improving health services for disadvantaged communities,” said Prof. Naim Shehadeh, who will serve as director of SPHERE.

Prof. Shehadeh is President of the Israeli Diabetes Association and Director of Diabetes Endocrinology and Metabolism at Rambam Medical Center.

His aims, he said, include a 50% reduction in the conversion rate from pre-diabetes to diabetes and a dramatic increase in the number of diabetes patients whose glucose levels are well-controlled.

“The need for innovative models and approaches is expected to be greater than ever in the COVID-19 and post-pandemic era due to its amplified effect on chronic disease health inequities,” said Azrieli Faculty of Medicine Dean Prof. Karl Skorecki, who initiated SPHERE.

“Having thoroughly examined the diabetes landscape in the Galil, we believe that this coordinated effort will lead to substantial impact and consistent and sustainable improvement in the region, as well as set an example for other initiatives dealing with chronic diseases in geographic and social peripheral communities.”