Dubai biomedical centre breaks new ground
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.