Press Release

Al Jalila Foundation Research Centre awards AED 5 million to boost biomedical research in the UAE

Al Jalila Foundation Research Centre, the UAE’s first independent and non-for-profit research centre, announced today that it has awarded AED 5 million in seed grants to 20 UAE-based medical researchers bringing the total investment to date to AED 14 million for 55 research projects. The seed grants focus on research in the field of cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity and mental health, Al Jalila Foundation Research Centre’s five research priorities. The grants were awarded to scientists from medical institutions across the UAE including Dubai Health Authority, UAE University, University of Sharjah, Khalifa University of Science and Technology, and New York University of Abu Dhabi. Three Emirati graduates were also selected to pursue medical research fellowships at renowned international institutions.

Out of 78 applications submitted for the seed grants, 20 applicants were selected following a competitive two-stage review process including international peer review with experts from the world’s most renowned medical institutions, including University of Oxford, Imperial College, University of Glasgow, Harvard Medical School, University of Pennsylvania, MD Anderson Cancer Center, University of Toronto, and University of Queensland. The reviewers were handpicked as leading experts in their specific field of research, in line with the commitment from Al Jalila Foundation Research Centre to grow a biomedical research ecosystem in Dubai built on international best practice.

Her Excellency Dr Raja Al Gurg, Member of the Board of Trustees of Al Jalila Foundation and Chairperson of the Board of Directors of Al Jalila Foundation Research Centre, commented: “Scientists around the world continue to search for answers into the causes, prevention and treatment of diseases affecting mankind. Our investment in medical research reaffirms our commitment to embed research and innovation in the fabric of the nation’s long-term healthcare strategy. Medical research has the potential to save lives and our efforts today will pave the way for a healthier world for future generations.”

Prof. Sehamuddin Galadari, Professor of Biochemistry & Molecular Cell Biology and CEO of Al Jalila Foundation Research Centre, said: “We are very pleased to see an increase in the quality of applications and types of research which entails basic, translational, and clinical research. Mental health and cancer remain high as research topics among our research and scientific community. The successful recipients have been chosen following an independent and a very rigorous competitive selection process featuring international peer review. It is our mission, as we progress with the development of the Al Jalila Foundation Research Centre, to bring local and international scientists together to conduct research in the UAE. Our ultimate goal is to elevate the quality and the quantity of research being conducted in the UAE. This is very important in building a knowledge based economy, and transforming the healthcare system to be more research oriented, and hence, improving people’s lives with better treatments. We are very grateful to the Al Jalila Foundation for funding Al Jalila Foundation Research Centre and enabling this vision to come true.”

Dr Abdulkareem Sultan Al Olama, CEO of Al Jalila Foundation, added: “Advances in medical research are critical to the nation’s prosperity and this continues to drive our efforts to attract financial support from professionals, philanthropists and corporates in the UAE. Our mission is to inspire medical advancements that will benefit future generations and support our vision to be at the forefront of global medical innovation. Today’s investments in medical research will go a long way to ensuring better treatment options for future generations.”

The Al Jalila Foundation Research Centre was established in 2014 by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, to position the UAE at the forefront of medical research and innovation. The centre is fully funded by Al Jalila Foundation, a global philanthropic organisation dedicated to transforming lives through medical treatment, education and research.

Summary of research projects and fellowships funded by Al Jalila Foundation:

Dr Mazin Magzoub, from the New York University of Abu Dhabi, aims to identify physiologically relevant neurotoxic amyloid-beta species in Alzheimer’s disease and to improve our understanding of their stoichiometry, composition, supramolecular organization and mechanism of action. (Mental Health)

Professor Iain Blair, from the United Arab Emirates University, is conducting a cohort study on mental and social factors that are associated with successful aging in the Emirati population. (Mental Health)

Dr Ali Trablosi, from the New York University of Abu Dhabi, is evaluating the anti-carcinogenic activity of new metal-organic complexes. This new class of muti-metal-centered organometallic non-trivial structures could serve as efficient and effective chemotherapeutic agent. (Cancer)

Dr Wegdan Bani issa, from the University of Sharjah, is studying the relationship between stress levels and sleep quality, physical activity and dietary habits among women living in the UAE. (Mental Health)

Professor Salah Gariballa, from the United Arab Emirates University, is addressing the feasibility of increasing fruits, vegetables and whole-grain fiber consumption in subjects with visceral obesity and whether when combined with low energy intake it could mitigate cardio metabolic risk factors associated with visceral obesity. (Obesity)

Dr Hany Omar, from the University of Sharjah, studies SU-CG5, a promising Energy Restriction Mimetic Agent (ERMA), and other ERMAs in targeting cancer multidrug resistance. These compounds could be a safer and effective alternative to antitumor agents. (Cancer)

Professor Sehamuddin Galadari, from the Al Jalila Foundation Research Center, follows a multi-disciplinary approach to explore and exploit the novel role of the Prostate apoptosis response-4 (Par-4), a tumor-suppressor protein, which can selectively destroy a wide variety of cancer cells via induction of apoptosis, leaving normal cells unaffected. (Cancer)

Dr Yong‐Ak (Rafael) Song, from the New York University of Abu Dhabi, investigates the relationship between the loss of muscle strength and diabetes using C. elegans. As people age and especially if diabetic, their muscle strength and mass decrease. It could be possible to quantify the efficacy of anti‐diabetic drugs on the loss of muscle strength using C. elegans in a high‐throughput manner. (Diabetes)

Dr Dipesh Chaudhury, from the New York University of Abu Dhabi, studies the cellular and molecular mechanisms by which sleep deprivation (SD) rapidly alleviates the depressive phenotype. (Mental Health)

Drs Abdulshakur Abdulle and Yvonne Valles, from the New York University of Abu Dhabi, explore gut microbial community dynamics in infants born from normal-weight healthy mothers, and obese but otherwise healthy mothers. (Obesity)

Dr Hasan Mir, from the American University of Sharjah, investigates the use EEG as cost‐effective, efficient, and convenient method for localizing the brain position where seizures originate. (Mental Health)

Professor Mawieh Hamad, from the University of Sharjah, evaluates the anti-carcinogenic potential of biologically-driven intracellular iron depletion. (Cancer)

Dr Raafat Abdel Gawad El-Gharib El-Awady, from the University of Sharjah, investigates the molecular mechanisms of newly developed 5-aminosalicylate-4-thiazolinone hybrid molecules. These molecules have shown promising anticancer activity comparable to the anticancer drug doxorubicin with minimal impact on normal cells. (Cancer)

Dr Anas Al Azzam, from the Khalifa University of Science and Technology, is working on a microfluidic system that can characterize circulating tumor cells based on the measurement of their electrical resistance, capacitance and response to radio frequency signals. (Cancer)

Dr Dymitr Ruta, from the Khalifa University of Science and Technology, uses Internet of Things (IoT) and Machine Learning (ML) technologies to discover, detect and record detailed patterns of daily human activity to evaluate their role in health behaviours. (Cardiovascular, Diabetes & Obesity)

Drs Youssef Idaghdour and Louis Ashall, from the New York University of Abu Dhabi, are looking for the genes that are activated/deactivated by advanced glycation endproducts (AGE) in diabetes. (Cardiovascular, Diabetes & Obesity)

Dr Maria Baias, from the New York University of Abu Dhabi, is studying the structure of a new polymorph of aspirin using nuclear magnetic resonance crystallography. A small change in aspirin’s structure could improve its pharmaceutical properties and increase its efficacy in the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular diseases. (Cardiovascular)

Mr Nezar Ahmed Salim, from the Dubai Hospital, investigates the knowledge and attitude of oncology nurses towards pain management. (Cancer)

Dr. Naoufel Weghi, from the Khalifa University of Science and Technology, is investigating an efficient non-invasive computer aided diagnosis system for early prostate cancer detection using diffusion-weighted magnetic resonance images. Early and accurate detection of prostate cancer would allow clinicians to initiate treatment at earlier stages, and thus potentially decrease the mortality rate of the prostate cancer. (Cancer)

Dr Samrein Ahmed, from the University of Sharjah, is addressing whether melanoma cells induce the expression of signalling adaptor protein ShcD upon prolonged oxidative stress. Understanding the mechanism of ShcD induced anti-apoptotic signal and migration upon cellular stresses will provide further insights on how to interrupt ShcD-induced survival signal, which eventually leads to the demise of melanoma cells. (Cancer)