The newly-appointed chief scientific adviser to the government has dismissed the threat posed to Israel by academic boycott activists in Britain.
Sir Mark Walport, 59, a top rheumatologist and immunologist, said while anti-Israel campaigners had generated “a lot of heat”, their efforts had resulted in little support from scientists.
“Those doing the work just get on with it and ignore those calls for boycott.
“I was asked a lot about it when I was in Israel and I think they were concerned, but it always looks worse to them than it is for us working here.”
As visiting professor of the Jewish Medical Association UK, Sir Mark, who is Jewish, gave the guest lecture at its annual meeting. He also discussed his recent trip to Israel and praised the work being done at Haifa’s Technion University.
He will step down from his current role as a director of the Wellcome Trust and take up his government advisory role in April 2013. Sir Mark was knighted in the 2009 New Year’s Honours List for services to medical research.