The Al Jalila Foundation has earmarked AED 8 million in funding to award fellowship and seed grants to talented researchers and engineers in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) which looks to solidify its status as the leader of biomedical research in the GCC region.
Under a partnership with the not-for-profit Al Jalila Foundation, local and expatriate student researchers can apply for fellowship and seed grants worth up to AED 300,000 each which they can use to perform clinical research projects in the UAE. The offer follows a separate medical scholarships program of the foundation which allots AED 3 million annually for students enrolled in post-graduate medical studies.
Applicants for fellowship and seed grants must hold positions from research institutions, hospitals and local schools in order to meet stringent criteria which involves a peer-review selection process to be facilitated by Al Jalila Foundation’s Scientific Advisory Board. Program hopefuls have until June 15 to apply.
Those who qualify will have the chance to study at world-class universities in the UAE under a three-month student research elective or a year-long research training support program. The foundation hopes that the research output of these new scientists will contribute to making the UAE on par with the rest of the world in scientific research.
“This is a big moment for the UAE’s medical research sector as we start contributing to the development of the next generation of biomedical scientists,” Sehamuddin Galadari, professor of biochemistry and molecular cell biology and academic and research advisor to the foundation, said in a press release.
“Our aim is to develop home-grown leaders with the ability to produce preventative medical research that is relevant to the region, thereby transforming the UAE’s healthcare sector,” he added.
The UAE is focusing on preventive medicine and disease management initiatives to stem the tide of chronic care conditions like diabetes and heart disease in the region. According to a report, the UAE had 0.75 million diabetics in 2013, and that number will rise to 0.85 million by 2018, double the global rate. The increase in chronic conditions is linked to obesity and other lifestyle factors such as poor diet and inadequate exercise.
Boosting research in the areas of diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, obesity, cancer and mental health has been a priority of the Al Jalila Foundation Research Centre, and their fresh funding for new biomedical research by new Emirati scientists working in other research institutions will boost the knowledge base of the medical research sector in the UAE.
The medical research charity foundation, established by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, has infused much-needed funding for other health initiatives in the UAE through the help of donors.
Last year it received AED 10 million from from the Al Rostamani Group to help jumpstart its medical research projects. Earlier this year, it partnered with Al Ansari Exchange which gave AED 5 million to children with special needs. In early April this year, the foundation also hosted its inaugural biomedical research symposium dubbed ‘Medical Research Today, Saving Lives Tomorrow’ held at the Mohammed Bin Rashid Academic Medical Centre
The UAE looks to parlay its position as a hub of business, finance and tourism in the region to improve its status as a leader in science and health care. The government has collaborated with international health care organizations to set up world-class hospitals and foreign universities to improve education.
To bring health care services up to speed, the UAE has also embarked on using telehealth, telemedicine, mHealth and system-wide EHR adoption, among other strategies, to serve locals and attract tourists as well. In particular, Dubai is implementing an ambitious medical tourism strategy to bring 500,000 tourists by 2020 to avail of the emirate’s health care services, already among the most advanced in the world.