Dubai biomedical centre breaks new ground

Friday 29/01/2016
Al Jalila Foundation Research Centre

Dubai - Since its inception in April 2013, Dubai-based Al Jal­ila Foundation, a global philanthropic organisa­tion, has been investing in health care, medical education and research in line with the United Arab Emirates’ seven-year national agenda that places special focus on health care and education as its core pillars.

Al Jalila Foundation Research Centre, in Dubai Healthcare City, is to open in 2017 to enhance region­ally relevant medical innovation produced by local biomedical re­searchers.

It will be the UAE’s first independ­ent multidisciplinary biomedical re­search centre and will focus on five of the most pressing regional health challenges: cancer, cardiovascu­lar diseases, diabetes, obesity and mental health.

“We believe that the establish­ment of a dedicated medical re­search centre will help boost sus­tainability in health care. The research will be from molecular and cellular to translational and clini­cal. Taking scientific solutions from bench to bedside to ultimately im­prove the quality of patients’ lives,” said Professor Sehamuddin Gala­dari, academic and research adviser of Al Jalila Foundation.

“Cultivating a cutting-edge envi­ronment for science, medicine and biomedical research to flourish in the UAE is at the heart of Al Jalila Foundation’s mission. We strive to develop home-grown leaders to pro­duce preventative medical research prevalent in the region, in areas of cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular dis­eases, obesity and mental health.”

The $54.4 million research centre is fully funded by Al Jalila Founda­tion and will have an independent governance structure and board of scientific advisers. It will be lo­cated between the Mohammed Bin Rashid Academic Medical Centre and Mohammed Bin Rashid Univer­sity Hospital to enhance collabora­tion between the academic, health care and scientific community.

“We are proud to play our part in helping the UAE become the world’s best nation by 2021 by injecting in­novation in the spheres of health, education and philanthropy,” said Raja Easa Saleh al-Gurg, member of the board of trustees and chair­woman of the board of directors in the foundation.

“Al Jalila Foundation has amassed significant support from philan­thropists, business leaders and members of the community who have lent their hearts, voices and financial support to medical re­search — a testament to the gener­osity, commitment and support of the people in the UAE,” noted Dr Abdulkareem Sultan al-Olama, the foundation’s chief executive officer.

“The social and economic impact of what we are looking to achieve is immeasurable for the future health and sustainability of our nation. We are committed to lead the way and we could not have made it this far without our supporters and do­nors.” Olama said.

When opened, the centre will col­laborate with international research institutions to nurture local bio­medical researchers and introduce best practices in the region.

A central policy of the foundation has been to create a sustainable re­search platform in the UAE by de­veloping national resources and ca­pabilities on par with international standards.

The foundation in 2015 launched its first international scholarship programme in partnership with Harvard Medical School (HMS), as part of its commitment to encour­age medical professionals to pursue training in global health delivery to contribute to the nation’s quality of health care.

The two-year master’s of medi­cal sciences in global health deliv­ery degree programme includes a HMS-based curriculum followed by a nine-month mentored research project in the UAE.

“We are seeing great enthusiasm and a genuine interest in science from young and aspiring research­ers and scientists. To fulfil their am­bition, we offer a number of fund­ing schemes, including seed grants and international fellowships,” said Galadari.

He said he hopes the centre will propel health care and science re­search.

“It will be the centre where young students will be trained; where postdoctoral fellows will build their careers and where schoolchildren will come to be enchanted with sci­ence. It will be a centre to inspire imagination and creativity that sees no boundaries; a centre that with the right environment and support will flourish to bear the fruits of sci­ence,” he added.

Al Jalila Foundation is positioning the research centre as the corner­stone for biotechnological and in­novation industrial spinoffs as well as attracting biopharmaceuticals and research companies looking to expand into the region.

“At Al Jalila Foundation we be­lieve that science has no borders and will flourish through global collaboration, knowledge transfer and continuous innovation. Our vision is to develop a world-class medical research centre that will deliver world-class medical break­throughs,” Galadari said.

In November 2015, Al Jalila Foun­dation and Dubai SME, the agency of the Department of Economic Development (DED), launched the Al Jalila Foundation Healthcare In­novation Centre (in2Hc), the UAE’s first health care incubator.

The in2Hc aims to enable aspir­ing Emirati doctors from a number of specialties to start their medical practice by providing them with the required resources and support, in­cluding funding, facilities and men­toring.

“We are delighted to support aspiring Emirati physicians to be­come the medical entrepreneurs of tomorrow; in2Hc offers a one-stop-shop of medical facilities and sup­port services, including access to medical and business expertise, so that physicians can focus on build­ing their medical practice,” Olama said.